Women's Hoops Back On The Road This Week

San Jose, Calif. - After a 87-53 loss at Utah State last week, the San Jose State women's basketball team heads back out on the road with redemption on their minds.  They face two team's which they defeated earlier this season on home court, New Mexico State and Denver. 

GAME 24 & 25

at NEW MEXICO STATE (9-14, 3-10 WAC)
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2013, 6:30 P.M.

Live Stats available at www.sjsuspartans.com
Steaming video available at www.nmstatesports.com

at DENVER (11-13, 6-7 WAC)
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2013, 4:00 P.M.

Live Stats available at www.sjsuspartans.com
Steaming video available at www.sjsuspartans.com

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A blocked shot at Utah State (2/9) put Riana Byrd (Fr., F, Richmond, Calif.) among lofty San Jose State women's basketball company. 

With that block, her 53rd of the season, Byrd tied the 34-year-old freshman blocked shots record, which she now shares with San Jose State Sports Hall of Famer Elinor Banks.  Banks established the record in the 1978-79 season.  Byrd is now five blocks from tying the Spartans single season blocked shots record of 58, set by Lamisha Augustine in 2005-06.

San Jose State leaves its home, at 85 feet above sea level, for the last two of three consecutive road games at elevations above 4,000 feet.  The Spartans started the odyssey at Utah State (4,534 feet) last Thursday.  This week they head to Las Cruces, N.M. (4,000 feet) followed by a game at Denver, Colo. (5,183 feet).

Ta'Rea Cunnigan
(So., G, Winchester, Calif.) has earned Capital One Academic All-District VIII honors, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) membership.  This is the first year Cunnigan has been eligible for the distinction.

The two-year starter from Chaparral High has a 3.61 cumulative grade-point average while majoring in kinesiology. As one of five Academic All-District VIII award winners, Cunnigan advances to a national ballot as one of 40 candidates eligible for 2013 Academic All-America honors in women's basketball.

To be eligible for Academic All-America consideration, a student-athlete must be enrolled at his/her current institution for at least one year, maintain a cumulative grade-point average of 3.30 or higher on a 4.00 scale, be a starter or key reserve, and have a minimum of sophomore athletics standing at his/her institution.

Scoring has increased from 65.5 to 70.9 ppg.
Field goal percentage has risen from .364 to .372.
3-point FG percentage is up from .255 to .285.
Free throw percentage is up from .715 to .719.
Turnovers allowed are down by four per game.

The Spartans won their first road game of the season two weeks ago, a 78-70 victory at UT Arlington. 

This week, San Jose State continues its road warriors persona with two more game away from Walt McPherson Court and will play four of their remaining six regular-season games on the road.  With every team in the conference automatically qualifying for the WAC Tournament, the Spartans will play a minimum of seven more games, only two of which will be played in The Event Center.

Riana Byrd
(Fr., F, Richmond, Calif.) and Emily Schill (Fr., F, Tecoma, Australia) continue to impress more than two-thirds of the way through their first college campaigns.

Byrd tied The Event Center's rebound record with 19 against Cal State Northridge (12/1).  It was the second of her 11 double-digit rebounding games this year, the most recent being 17 boards at Urtah State (2/9).  Overall she leads the conference in blocks, total rebounding and offensive rebounds, is second in defensive boards, seventh in field goal percentage and 16th in scoring.  Nationally she is 31st in rebounds and 25th in blocks.  Against UTSA (12/31), she equalled another The Event Center record when she had eight steals.

Schill is the 18th leading scorer in the WAC and set the program's freshman scoring record with 36 points against Utah State (1/12).  She is the 12th ranked rebounder in the conference and ripped down a season-best 18 boards against Utah State (1/12).  Each has earned a WAC Player of the Week honor this season.

San Jose State is the only school to have two freshman rank in the top-20 in both scoring, field goal percentage, offensive rebounds and total rebounding in the WAC.  In the categories in which they appear in the top-10, in the WAC, they are the highest ranked freshman in rebounds, FG%, FT%, blocks, offensive and defensive rebounds.

Ta'Rea Cunnigan
(So., G, Winchester, Calif.) and Riana Byrd (Fr., F, Richmond, Calif.) are climbing up the San Jose State single season lists for free throws attempted, made and blocks.  Below are where they stand to date:

1.    Brittany Johnson    158    2011-12
2.    Cricket Williams    152    2002-03
3.    Ta'Rea Cunnigan    141    2012-13

1.      Cricket Williams    240    2002-03
4.    Cricket Williams    205    2003-04
5.    Cricket Williams    197    2001-02   
6.      Lora Alexander    192    1989-90
7.    Ta'Rea Cunnigan    189    2011-12

1.    Lamisha Augustine    58    2005-06
2.    Elinor Banks    55    1979-80
3.    Riana Byrd    **53    2012-13   
       Elinor Banks    **53    1978-79
       Shauna Ridge    53    2008-09   

** - San Jose State freshman record

The Spartans are getting it done in the classroom as well as on the court.  In the Fall 2012 semester the team had a semester GPA of 3.201 and has a cumulative GPA of 3.402.  Both numbers are the highest in program history.

Ta'Rea Cunnigan (So., G, Winchester, Calif.), a kinesiology major with a 3.616 cumulative grade point average, was recently honored as a 2013 Capital One Academic All-District VIII performer and Emily Schill (Fr., F, Tecoma, Australia) was recognized by the Athletics Department for having the team's highest GPA (3.930) for the Fall 2012 semester.

In the Spartans 103-80 win over Utah State (1/12), Emily Schill (Fr., F, Tecoma, Australia) and Ta'Rea Cunnigan (So., G, Winchester, Calif.) combined for 62 points (Schill - 36 & Cunnigan - 26).  In a regulation game, it was the second highest output for teammates this season.

The top two-some are Diamond Ford and Ashley Ezeh of Texas State who scored 66 points (Ford - 40 & Ezeh - 26) on December 29th.  The opponent....San Jose State.

In a list compiled by SIDs across America it has been determined that San Jose State is the youngest team in Division I.  The list is based upon the total years played in college (Division I, II, II, NAIA or Junior College) by members of each school's team. 

The Spartans return one player from last season, Ta'Rea Cunnigan (So., G, Winchester, Calif.) who has one year of college experience.  Classye James (So., G, Palo Alto, Calif.) had one year of college experience (Oregon State) before transfering and sitting out last year and Chereese Thomas (Jr., G, Dublin, Calif.) was at Ohlone College for the past two seasons.  That totals four  years of experience on a roster of nine athletes (0.444 years of experience).
Temple and SIU-Carbondale tied for second on the list with 0.727 years of college experience (eight years season on rosters of 11 players).
The Spartans suffered thier lowest scoring first half of the season, 19 points, and lost in Western Athletic Conference play to the Utah State Aggies 87-54 in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

San Jose State made just 6-of-29 shots, 20.7 percent, and 6-of-12 from the free throw line in the first 20 minutes.

Utah State came out hot hitting 7-of-8, including 3-of-4 from behind the arc, and built a 17-7 lead in the first four minutes.

The Spartans went inside early and had success with Riana Byrd hitting buckets in three of the team's first four possessions, on her way to 19 points and 17 rebounds.  She also equaled Elinor Banks' freshman single-season blocks record of 53, set in 1978-79.  Byrd is now six blocks from passing Lamisha Augustine's single-season record of 58 blocks, which she accomplished in the 2005-06 season.

But over a 10 minute span from 15:47 to 5:00 left to play in the half, the Spartans went ice cold, hitting just one of their next 14 shots.

While the Spartans struggled, Utah State hit four more 3-pointers, among seven total field goals, and built their largest lead of the half 37-11.  A Jayzyl Tauala 3-pointer started a 7-0 run for San Jose State at the five-minute mark, but by the time the buzzer went off at the half, Utah State had pushed its lead back to 26-points at 45-19.

The Aggies dominated the play down low grabbing 66 rebounds, a high for a Spartans opponent this season, to San Jose State's 36 and out scored SJSU 42-24 in the paint.  They turned 19 Spartan mistakes into a 23-to-6 advantage in points off turnovers en route to the 33-point win.

Classye James had 11 points for San Jose State who as a team made 16 of their 61 shot attempts (26 percent) on the night and were 19-for-35 (54 percent) from the free throw line.

The Aggies are 9-14 overall and 3-10 in conference play entering this week.  Last week they lost in a pair of road games 72-53 at Idaho and 78-62 at Seattle.  At home this year, New Mexico State is 6-6 overall, 1-5 in conference matchups and are struggling through a nine-game losing streak.

The Aggies are being outscored by 4.0 points per game (57.2-to-61.2).  They are the lowest scoring team in the WAC, but are the second stingiest defense.  NMSU is second in the conference in turnovers, giving it up just 14.9 times per game, which ranks 51st in the nation.

Stephanie Gilbreath, a senior guard, leads the New Mexico State attack at 16.4 points per game.  She ranks 93rd in the country in scoring and 84th in free throw percentage (.813), which is fifth in the WAC in both categories.  Danesia Williamson. a sophomore guard, is scoring 11.3 points and the team rebounding leader is Kelsie Rozandall (7.0 per game).

Mark Trakh is in his second season leading the Aggies women's basketball program. In 17 years as a Division I head coach, he had a 292-211 record entering this season including a 6-24 mark in his first season in Las Cruces.

This will be the 31st meeting between these two programs.  New Mexico State has completely dominated the series holding a 25-5 advantage.

In 14 games contested in Las Cruces, San Jose State has one just once, a 54-43 decision in 2004-05, since the teams first meeting in 1990-91 . 

Previous Meeting This Season
(51-50 San Jose State win in San Jose, Calif. - 1/19/13)

Despite one of their poorest shooting games of the year, San Jose State defeated the New Mexico State Aggies 51-50.

The Spartans hit just 21-of-72 field goal attempts (29.2 percent) and 7-of-14 from the free throw line (50 percent).  It was the third worst shooting percentage this season and the first time the team has won a game without hitting at least 70 percent of their attempts from the line.

San Jose State had a seven-point lead 50-43 with five minutes to play.  After a pair of Aggies free throws, San Jose State's Riana Byrd, who finished with 11 points and nine boards, made one-of-two from the line at the 3:42 mark giving the Spartans a 51-45 lead, but they wouldn't score again.

Sasha Weber made one-of two-free throws with one minute to play to cut the SJSU lead to 51-48.  Then with 42 seconds left a Danesia Williamson bucket got NMSU to within one at 51-50.

New Mexico State had two chances in the last eight seconds to get the go-ahead bucket.  The first was swatted away by Byrd and the second came off the iron where Ta'Rea Cunnigan grabbed it and was fouled with 1.7 seconds remaining to preserve the victory.

The Pioneers are 11-13 overall and 6-7 in conference play, and host Utah State before the Spartans come to town on Saturday.  They lost at Seattle 63-53 and 70-64 at Idaho last week. Denver, on their home court, is 6-6 overall, 4-3 in conference matchups.

The Pioneers are being outscored by 1.5 points per game (65.0-to-66.5).  They are second the WAC in 3-pt % at .324, which is good for 85th in the nation.  They are second in the conference and 85th in the nation in rebounding margin (+3.5).

At 12.6 points, the Denver is led by one of the conference's most accurate 3-point shooters sophomore guard Morgan Van Riper-Rose (4th at .356).  Senior guard Emiko Smith is first in the conference and 21st nationally in assist/turnover ratio at 2.18:1.  She averages 6.1 assists.  Maiya Michel, a junior forward, is fourth in the WAC and leads her team in rebounds, 9.7 per game.
Kerry Cremeans is in her first season leading the Denver women's basketball program and her first as a head coach at any level.

This will be the fourth meeting between these two programs.  Denver won won the first two meetings and the Spartans the last.

Previous Meeting This Season
(68-67 San Jose State win in San Jose, Calif. - 1/17/13)

San Jose State team survived two missed shots in the last three seconds to defeat the Denver Pioneers 68-67 on The Event Center's Walt McPherson Court. 

Coming out of a timeout with five seconds to play, Denver's Maiya Michel launched an unsuccessful 3-pointer.  Pioneer Jordan Johnston grabbed the rebound, one of DU's 25 offensive rebound of the night, but missed the follow-up layup as time expired giving the Spartans a one-point victory.

In the second half, San Jose State built a game-high seven-point lead, 64-57, on a pair of Alexis Hill free throws with 5:29 to play.  A three-point play cut the lead to four at the 4:54 mark.  Emiko Smith and Morgan Van Riper-Rose scored the final seven points for DU.

The Pioneers missed their final six free-throw attempts while San Jose State made two of its four chances from the line and a Riana Byrd layup, two of her 11 points, set the stage for the final second excitement.

The Spartans offense was paced by Ta'Rea Cunnigan's 28 points, which tied her career high.  She drove to the basket again and again, sinking 9-of-18 shots and made 8-of-10 from the line.  The Pioneers only hit 33 percent from the floor including 25 percent in the second half.