Women's Hoops Wraps Up WAC At UTSA & Texas State

San Jose, Calif. - In their final two games of the 2012-13 regular season, the San Jose State women's basketball team travels to UTSA and Texas State in games which will affect seeding for the Western Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev., March 12-16 in the Orleans Arena. 

GAME 28 & 29


at UTSA (14-13, 8-8 WAC)
Thursday, March 7, 2013, 7:00 P.M.
Convocation Center, San Antonio, Texas

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

at Texas State (9-18, 3-13 WAC)
Saturday, March 9, 2013, 2:00 P.M.
Strahan Coliseum, San Marcos, Texas

Live Stats available at www.sjsuspartans.com
Steaming video ($5.95) available at www.txstatebobcats.com

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Riana Byrd (Fr., F, Richmond, Calif.) has been named Western Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 25-March 3. This is her second WAC Player of the Week honor this season.

The Richmond, Calif. native led the Spartans to a sweep of UT Arlington and Louisiana Tech with a pair of double-doubles.

Against UTA, she finished with 14 points on 50 percent shooting, pulled down 15 boards, nabbed three steals and blocked four shots. With the four blocks, she set the San Jose State single-season record, which now stands at 60, and is in ninth place on the career blocked shots list.

Against LA Tech, Byrd was an efficient 7-of-11 (64 percent) from the field for 16 points to go along with 14 rebounds and a steal.

For the week, she averaged 15 points on 56 percent shooting, 14.5 rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Her 288 rebounds on the year place her in sixth place on the program's single-season list and are a freshman record for the program.

Byrd is one of three Spartans to be named WAC Player of the Week this season.  Ta'Rea Cunnigan (So., G, Winchester, Calif.) and Emily Schill (Fr., F, Tecoma, Australia) earned the honor for their play for the weeks of Nov. 12-18 and Jan 6-13, respectively.

With four blocked shots against UT Arlington, Riana Byrd (Fr., F, Richmond, Calif.) tied and then passed Lamisha Augustine's 2005-06 single-season blocked shots record of 58.  Byrd, with a minimum of three more games to be played, has 60 blocks on the year.

Her 60 blocks are also good for ninth on the program's career shots blocked list.

With 288 rebounds, Byrd holds the freshman record for San Jose State and is in sixth place on the Spartans single-season rebounds list.  She currently sits eight boards behind Natalie St. Mary for fifth place.

The Spartans have a minimum of three more games.  If she continues to grab rebounds at her WAC per-game average of 11, she will will have 321 rebounds and be eight behind Roberta Chew who set the single-season rebounding mark in the 1983-84 season with 329.

With two games to play in the 2012-13 regular season Ta'Rea Cunnigan (So., G, Winchester, Calif.) is in the top-10 of four San Jose State single-season statistical categories and climbing.

She set the program's made free throw record at 160, when she made six against LA Tech (3/2).  She passed Brittany Johnson who sank 158 in the 2011-12 season. Cunnigan is tied for third place in free throw attempts (214) with Lora Alexander.  She is 10 attempts behind Johnson (224 in 2011-12) and 36 behind Cricket Williams' 2002-03 record of 240. 

Her 546 points are third best for a season and are within striking distance of single-season leader Brittany Johnson, who scored 603 in 2011-12.  Cunnigan also sits in eighth place on the single-season steals list with 87.  Wanda Thompson holds the record with 136 steals set in 1979-80.

In career records, Cunnigan currently stands in fourth place on the free throws made list with 269.  Cricket Willilams holds the record at 466.  She is eighth on the free throw attempts list at 372.  Williams holds the record with 732.

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.

Riana Byrd is the only player in the WAC averaging a double double (11.3 pts., 10.7 rebs.)
Ta'Rea Cunnigan has gone to the free throw line more times (214) and made more free throws (160) than any player in the WAC.
Emily Schill has increased her scoring by 2.3 ppg. and rebounding by 2.0 rpg., since the start of WAC play.
Chereese Thomas is the first Spartan to have double digit assists in a game (10 vs. UTA 2/28/13) since Erica McGladston had 11 vs. Hawai'i on 2/5/05.

In 11 years and 23 previous games as WAC opponents, San Jose State had never defeated Louisiana Tech.  This is the last year the programs are scheduled as conference rivals, so time was quickly running out to break the LA Tech curse.

Finally, in the last regular season match-up between the two schools, the Spartans broke the curse with a 60-58 win.

It came in the Spartans final home game of the year and was eerily reminiscent to last year's Senior Night game when San Jose State broke a 20-game losing streak to Fresno State.

With two games left in the WAC regular season, teams are jockeying for the best possible seeding in the WAC Tournament, the winner of which will earn an automatic bid to the 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament.

The WAC Tournament format gives a first-round bye to the top six seeded teams, while seeds seven through 10 play for the right to advance into the eight-team bracket.

Currently, the Spartans are in a four-way tie for fourth place with Louisiana Tech, Denver and UTSA.  They hold their destiny in their hands, owning the tiebreaker against LA Tech and DU.

UTSA, who the Spartans play on Thursday, won the first meeting with San Jose State in The Event Center and currently holds the first tiebreaker, but the Spartans hold the second.

Simply stated, if the Spartans win one of their two games this weekend they will open the Tournament on Wednesday.  If they lose twice they must rely on someone else to avoid a Tuesday, round-one game.

Riana Byrd (Fr., F, Richmond, Calif.) and Emily Schill (Fr., F, Tecoma, Australia) continue to impress as they near the end of 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 13 double-digit rebounding games this year, the most recent being 16 boards at NMSU (2/14).  Overall she leads the conference in blocks, total rebounding defensive and offensive rebounds,  and 17th in scoring.  Nationally she is 25th in rebounds and 28th in blocks.  Against UTSA (12/31), she equalled another The Event Center record when she had eight steals.

Schill is the 19th leading scorer in the WAC and set the program's freshman scoring record with 36 points against Utah State (1/12).  She is the 11th 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, 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, blocks, offensive and defensive rebounds.

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).
San Jose State had faced the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters 23 times, but never came away with a victory until its 60-58  win Saturday night on Walt McPherson Court.

The game closed the home portion of the Spartans 2012-13 schedule and the win moves them into a four-way tie for fourth place in the conference with one week to go in the regular season.

There were 12 lead changes and the score was tied nine times: the last coming at 55-55 with 3:18 to play.  Chereese Thomas made the first of two free throws to tie it and then hit the second for a one-point Spartans' lead.  A Riana Byrd layup and a Ta'Rea Cunnigan free throw increased the San Jose State advantage to 59-55 with 1:05 left.

A turnover and foul by the Spartans led to three Lady Techsters points before a Cunnigan free throw made it a 60-58 lead for SJSU.

LA Tech had the ball with seven seconds to play and a chance to tie it or get the go ahead bucket with a three.  Jelena Vucinic, who finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, got the ball at the top of the arc, but hesitated to shoot.  As the seconds ticked away, she fired a pass into the right corner to Whitney Frazier.  Frazier, who led Louisiana Tech with 19 points, got a shot off with one second to go which drew iron, but came up short.

The Spartans and Lady Techsters struggled from the floor and the free throw line.   LA Tech hoisted 77 shots making just 22 (28 percent), including 1-for-16 from 3-point range.  San Jose State was not much more impressive shooting 31 percent (19-for-61) and 5-for-15 from behind the arc.

The teams didn't do much better from the line.  The Spartans, making 72 percent of their charity strip attempts on the season, were just 17-for-28 (60 percent).  Louisiana Tech, the worst free throw shooting team in the WAC, hit 13-for-23 (56 percent).

San Jose State built the largest lead of the game, 26-20 with 5:08 to go in the half, but failed to score again before the buzzer.  LA Tech failed to take advantage of the Spartans drought making just 1-of-10 shots down the stretch and converting 2-of-3 free throws.

With her free throw at the 1:05 mark, Ta'Rea Cunnigan had made 157 on the season and set the program's single-season record.  She passed Brittany Johnson who made 156 in the 2011-12 season.  Cunnigan made one more free throw and now stands at 158 on the year.

Her 10 free throw attempts moved her to within 26 of the single season record of 240 set by Cricket Williams.

The Roadrunners are 14-13 to start the week, 8-8 in conference play. Last week the lost a pair of road games at Idaho and Seattle U. 

UTSA is the second lowest scoring teams in the league, averaging 60.1 points, but are tops in defense holding their opponents to just 56.0 per game. 

The Roadrunners are led by Kamra King, a sophomore guard, who is scoring 8.7 points per game and leads the in steals (2.2/game).  Senior guard Simone Young is averaging 8.0 points and 2.1 assists.  Whitney Wright, a senior center, is at 4.0 rebounds and 38 blocks.

Rae Rippetoe-Blair is in her 13th season leading the Roadrunners women's basketball program.  Entering 2012-13 she had an overall record of 307-203 and a 200-159 record at UTSA.

This will be the second meeting between these two programs.  UTSA is 9-5 at home this season.

Previous Meeting This Season
(57-54 UTSA win in San Jose, Calif. - 12/31/12)

The Spartans went on an 18-to-4 tear in the final six minutes to reduce a 17-point deficit to three, but with six seconds left a Jayzyl Tauala 3-point attempt rimmed out and San Jose State lost 57-54 to the UTSA Roadrunners in The Event Center.

The Spartans trailed by as many as 21 points in the second half and a Cori Cooper jumper with 6:46 to play gave UTSA a 17-point advantage, but then they slowed their offense down and lost their momentum.

Classye James scored eight of the Spartans next 12 points and the lead was down to five, 53-48 with just over two minutes to go.

Riana Byrd's jumper, off the glass, made it a one-possession game, 53-50, with 1:34 left in regulation.  A pair of free throws pushed the lead to five points but Byrd, who finished with 12 points and tied The Event Center record with eight steals, hit another jumper with 34 seconds left to get the Spartans back to within three.

After the team's traded free throws to make the score 57-54, the Spartans were forced to foul to stop the clock.  A Chereese Thomas foul sent Simone Young to the line with 16 seconds left.  Young missed both attempts and the Spartans got possession back looking to tie it up.

Tauala, had a good look at the bucket from the top of the circle, but her 3-point attempt rimmed out.  With one second to play Thomas committed her fifth foul.  Again, the Roadrunners missed both attempts and the Spartans got the rebound, but a full court shot by Alexis Hill fell short and San Jose State lost 57-54.
The Spartans were in foul trouble most of the game.  Ta'Rea Cunnigan picked up three in the first half and Byrd and Thomas each had two by the break.  Cunnigan and Thomas would foul out and Byrd played most of the second half with four.

The Bobcats are 9-18 overall, 3-13 in WAC action.  They have lost four in a row, all on the road, after dropping games at Seattle U. and Idaho last week.

Texas State is the second highest scoring team in the conference (69.1 ppg) but is giving up 70.9 an outing.  They rank near the top of the league in 3-point percentage. but are near the bottom in free throw shooting.

The Bobcats have two players who are averaging double figures in scoring led by senior guard Diamond Ford who at 21.4 points is the leading scorer in the WAC.  Ashley Ezeh, a junior forward, is scoring 15.4 points per game and is among the top rebounders in the league (9.1/game). 

Zenarae Antoine is in her second season leading the Texas State women's basketball program.  Entering 2012-13 she had a 17-14 record.

This will be the second meeting between these two programs.  Texas State is 5-7 at home this season.

Previous Meeting This Season
(98-96 San Jose State win in San Jose, Calif. - 12/29/12)

The Spartans set a then The Event Center record for points scored by a women's team with their 98-96 win over the Texas State Bobcats.

The Spartans snapped a season-long five-game skid and grab a win in their Western Athletic Conference opener for the second year in a row. Texas State scored a season high in the loss.

"Turnovers, getting to the line and knocking down free throws, that was the big difference tonight," said head coach Tim La Kose.  "We shot 87 percent from the line and were plus-seven on turnovers."

San Jose State forced 24 Bobcat turnovers while committing 17, which they turned into six-point advantage.

The Spartans went to the line a season-high 31 times knocking down 27 attempts.  Ta'Rea Cunnigan tied The Event Center record with 13 makes among her 14 tries and finished with a career-high 30 points.

She was one of five Spartans in double figures.  Emily Schill had 17 points and 10 rebounds.  Riana Byrd picked 16, Chereese Thomas added 12 and Jayzyl Tauala had her best shooting day of the year, hitting 5-of-8 for a career best 14 points.

"We got contributions from everybody and that's what we need tonight," said La Kose.  "We knew they like to play up tempo.  We're in good shape.  We have no problem playing at that level and we proved it to ourselves against a good scoring team."

San Jose State came out and quickly on both ends of the floor.  They held the Bobcats without a bucked for more than five minutes.  At the first media timeout they had an 11-4 lead, which they built into a 27-12 advantage after an Alexis Hill jumper with 9:59 to go before the half.

Ashley Ezeh, who finished with 26 points and a record for a visiting player 17 rebounds, keyed an 18-to-3 Texas State rally.  By the 6:04 mark the game was tied at 30-30. 

San Jose State would finish the half with a 13-to-6 spurt and take a 43-36 advantage into the locker room.

Back to back 3-pointers by Classye James gave the Spartans a 12-point, 52-40 lead early in the second half.  Texas State slowly trimmed the lead and by the 9:26 mark a Diamond Ford 3-pointer cut the San Jose State advantage to 69-67.

Ford would sink five the Bobcats next seven buckets including three more 3-pointers.  Her last trey, with 4:23 to play, game Texas State an 86-81 lead.

In the last four minutes San Jose State was 9-of-10 from the line with Thomas nailing all four of her attempts including two with nine seconds to play which proved to be the difference.

Ford finished with 40 points, The Event Center record for a visiting player.  Along with Ezeh, they scored 66 of Texas State's 96 points.