San Jose, Calif. - Clinging to a 71-69 lead with 1:41 to play, the San Jose State Spartans women's basketball team (8-13, 3-3 WAC) couldn't close the deal and lost the Utah State Aggies 78-73 in Western Athletic Conference action on Thursday night in The Event Center.
The Spartans committed three of their 30 turnovers in the final minute and a half and saw the Aggies (14-6, 5-1 WAC) make six of ten free throws down the stretch. Utah State's Ashlee Brown hit five of her game-high 30 points from the line in the final 24 seconds to secure the win.
"Once again turnovers are the difference," head coach Tim La Kose said. "We were right there, knocking on the door, but we have to learn to take better care of the ball. If we do that, we win games like this."
In the first half the Spartans outshot the Aggies 48 percent (14-of-29) to 38 percent (13-of-34) and outrebounded Utah State 24-to-14, but San Jose State turned the ball over 15 times which the Aggies used in an 11-to-4 advantage in points off turnovers. Brittany Johnson had 16 of her team-high 26 points in the first 20 minutes and the teams went to the locker room tied 36-36.
With the score tied 43-43 with 17:02 to play, the Spartans went on a 16-to-4 run led by two Sara Plavljanin 3-pointers. San Jose State built its biggest lead of the night, 12 points, at 59-47 with 13:31 to go. Plavljanin would finish the night with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting including 5-of-8 from behind the arc.
By the 8:09 mark, the Aggies had cut the San Jose State lead to one, 61-60 with Brown getting seven points in the 13-to-2 streak. The Spartans pushed their lead back to seven, 69-62, with 3:35 to go, but Utah State chipped away until it was just two points with 1:41 to play. Jennifer Schlott hit a 3-pointer to give the Aggies a one point lead and they closed the game out from the free throw line.
"We went up by 12 points in the second half and had a chance to put the game away," La Kose said. "We had some missed opportunities and to their credit they took advantage of them. This was similar to the Fresno State game. We outshot and outrebounded them but the turnovers killed us. As opposed to the Fresno (State) game, tonight we had a chance to win."
On the night, San Jose State hit 51.9 percent of their shots (28-of-54) to the Aggies 36.9 percent (24-of-65), but Utah State went to the line 37 times to the Spartans 14 and connected on 23 of those attempts to San Jose State's 11. The Spartans also outrebounded Utah State 42-to-33, but on the offensive glass were topped 20-to-11 led by Brown, who had 10 of her game high 14 boards on the offensive end.
Ta'Rea Cunnigan was the third Spartan to hit double digit scoring with 10 points in the game. Myesha Broaden added eight and Brea Matthews and Palagi Atoe, playing for the first time since the Utah Valley game on January 5, each had five points.
The Spartans finish their two-game home stand on Saturday when they host the Idaho Vandals. Tipoff in The Event Center is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.