San Jose, Calif. - The fifth seed in the 2012 Western Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament, San Jose State will face Idaho, the fourth seed, Wednesday night in the final game of the first round of the conference tournament. The tournament will be played at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., with the winner earning an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
2012 WAC TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
Wednesday, March 7
G1* #3 Louisiana Tech vs. #6 Hawai'i - 12:00 p.m.
G2* #2 Utah State vs. #7 Nevada - 2:30 p.m.
G3* #1 Fresno State vs. #8 New Mexico State - 6:00 p.m.
G4* #4 Idaho vs. #5 San Jose State - 8:30 p.m.
Friday, March 9
G5** Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 - 12:00 p.m.
G6** Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 - 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 10
G7** Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6 - 3:00 p.m.
* - Game broadcast on the WAC Sports Network - www.WAC.tv
** - Games broadcast on www.ESPN3.com
Fans can view live stats of all San Jose State WAC Tournament games by accessing the "Live Stats" feature at www.sjsuspartans.com. Click on the link at the top of the home page to follow the action.
All games for the WAC Basketball Tournament will be streamed live on WAC.tv. Individual tournament games may be purchased for $7.95.
Semifinal and finals action will be available on ESPN3.com free of charge.
KSJS (90.5 FM, San Jose) will broadcasts all of the Spartans games in the WAC Tournament. Alex Scott and Jeff Bowe call the play-by-play.
WAC BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT TICKETS
Tickets for all Western Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament games are available through the Orleans Arena Box Office (702-284-7777 or 888-234-2334).
There is a women's games only, $50 general-admission ticket package available or fans can opt to purchase an all sessions package for either $135, $165 or $300 through the Orleans Arena web site www.orleansarena.com.
Single game tickets will not be available until the day of the event.
The Vandals enter the tournament with an 11-19 record and in a three-way tie for fourth place in the WAC at 6-8. The team enters the tournament on a two-game winning streak, having beaten the Spartans 70-65 last Thursday and then defeated Hawai'i 69-50 on Saturday to grab the No. 4 seed.
Alyssa Charlston, a sophomore forward, leads the Vandals at 14.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Freshman guardStacy Barr is scoring 10.1 points, and is grabbing 3.9 rebounds.
As a team, Idaho is averaging 62.0 points per game on .394 shooting from the field.
Head coach John Newlee is in his 13th season as a head coach and brought a 167-164 record into the 2011-12 season. This is his fourth season leading Idaho and has a 50-70 mark through the end of the 2011-12 regular season.
HISTORY: Spartans vs. Vandals
Idaho holds a 14-10 lead in the all-time series, but San Jose State is 2-0 against the Vandals in WAC Tournament games. In 2007, and again in 2008, San Jose State and Idaho met in the tournament's first round with the Spartans coming away with 72-66 and 70-63 wins, respectively.
Idaho swept the two-game season series from the Spartans by scores of 67-63 in San Jose and 70-65 in Moscow.
In the first meeting in The Event Center, the Spartans had a one-point lead in the last minute, only to see it slip away on a jumper and then a three-pointer with 54 seconds to play. Brittany Johnson led San Jose State with 15 points and nine rebounds.
At Idaho last week, the teams were tied 61-61 with 3:58 to play, but the Vandals went on a 9-to-4 run over the final minutes to earn the win. Brittany Johnson led all scorers with 26 points and Myesha Broaden had a 12-point, 11-rebound double double.
Brittany Johnson, the conference's leading scorer and the nation's 16th at 19.7 points per game, was selected as a first-team All-WAC performer. She also ranks in the top-10 of the WAC in rebounds, free throw percentage, steals, blocked shots, offensive and defensive rebounds and minutes played.
This season, the 5-10 forward from Tulsa, Okla., set the Spartans' single-season records for points and free throws made and scored in double figures in every game, also a San Jose State women's basketball record.
Ta'Rea Cunnigan, a product of Chaparral High School in Winchester, Calif., led all WAC freshmen in scoring at 11.8 points per game and was one of two freshman in the top-20 in the conference in scoring. She was sixth in steals, snatching 2.07 per game and earned All-Freshman team honors.
A 5-9 guard, Cunnigan was the team's third leading scorer and ranked second in steals. She scored a season-high 21 points at Nevada and failed to reach double-figure scoring twice in 14 WAC games.
Head coach Tim La Kose, in his first season in charge the San Jose State women's program, led the team to nine more wins than last year and the most wins since 2005-06. The nine-game improvement, from two to 11 victories, is amongst the best in the nation this year. He is the second Spartans head coach to earn the honor from the WAC; Janice Richard was selected in 2001-02 and his 11 wins are the second most by a first-year Spartans' women's basketball coach.
Under La Kose San Jose State improved their scoring by 487 points from a year ago and increased their per-game average from 47.7 points to 64.5. The team's 1,870 total points rank fourth best in San Jose State history. La Kose has twice been honored as National Independent Coach of the Year, after the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.
The web site CollegeSportsMadness.com honored Cunnigan as its WAC Freshman of the Year and named her a fourth-team performer. Johnson was selected to its first-team and guard Sara Plavljanin, the 29th best three-point percentage shooter in the country and fourth in the WAC,was a second-team honoree. Myesha Broaden, a senior center, was chosen as a fourth-team performer after being one of the most dominant rebounders in the WAC.
SPARTANS HEAD COACH TIM LA KOSE
San Jose State head coach Tim La Kose is in his first season leading the program. He recorded his first victory with the Spartans on December 1, a 74-64 win over Northern Arizona.
La Kose was named the WAC Coach of the Year on March 5. He is the second Spartans women's basketball coach to receive the honor.
La Kose came to San Jose State, after spending the past 10 years as the head coach at Cal State Bakersfield. While there his team's averaged 21 wins per season and had a .703 winning percentage (211-89). He was a two-time National Independent Coach of the Year (2008-09 and 2009-10) and left as the school's winningest women's head basketball coach.
SPARTANS IN THE WAC TOURNAMENT
In 15 years in the WAC, the Spartans have qualified for the conference tournament 11 times and hold a 5-11 record. The last time San Jose State competed in the WAC Tourney was in 2008-09 when they fell to Hawai'i 70-57 in the opening round.
This is the first time in two years that San Jose State has participated in the WAC Tournament. However, the Spartans have played Idaho twice in the WAC Tournament and have beaten the Vandals both times - 72-66 in 2006-07 and 70-63 in 2007-08.
DOUBLE DIGIT SCORING ELITE
Senior Brittany Johnson's 29 consecutive double-digit scoring efforts this season are the most for a Spartan since the start of the 1999-00 season. And her 30 consecutive double-digit games are second to Cricket Williams who holds the consecutive game double-digit scoring streak at 41 (25 in a row to end 2001-02 and 16 straight to open 2002-03).
JOHNSON BREAKS TWO SINGLE-SEASON RECORDS
With 15 points at Utah State, Brittany Johnson has 572 on the year and broke the San Jose State single-season scoring record. She passed Cricket Williams, who scored 571 in 2002-03.
In the same game, Johnson broke a tie with Williams for the most free throws made in a season. Johnson went 1-of-2 from the line and has made 153 free throws on the year.
Through March 4, Brittany Johnson is ranked 19th nationally in scoring, averaging 19.7 points per game. Sara Plavljanin is 29th in three-point field goal percentage at .382.
As a team, the Spartans rank 68th in steals and 95th in field goal percentage defense, 10.1 and .373, respectively.
Through 29 games this season, San Jose State has used six different lineups. The line up of Plavljanin, Cunnigan, Matthews, Johnson and Broaden started 12 games. The second most used lineup is Plavljanin, Cunnigan, Atoe, Johnson and Broaden, who started 10 games this season.
WEDNESDAY NOT TERRIBLY KIND TO SPARTANS
San Jose State played four games on Wednesdays this season and came away with a 1-3 record. In two November contest they lost 80-60 at UC Davis and 93-71 vs. Eastern Illinois. In December they suffered their worst defeat of the season, 85-55 at Cal State Northridge. The only Wednesday win was on February 2, a 70-63 win over WAC foe Nevada. San Jose State's opening game in the WAC Tournament is on a Wednesday.
Sara Plavljanin leads the Spartans in three-point shooting and ranks fourth in the WAC in makes per game and percentage shooting. She has made 60 of her 157 attempt, 2.0 made per game and a .382 shooting percentage. Ta'Rea Cunnigan ranks second on the team with 14 made in 52 attempts.
On December 17 at Santa Clara, Plavljanin hit a career-high seven threes. She finished the game, a 74-53 win, one trey shy of tying Gretchen Seeley's single-game record. Seeley made eight three-pointers against Long Beach State on February 13, 1994.
IF THEY'RE FREE...THEY'RE FOR ME
With 422 free throws made by the Spartans in 2011-12, they set the program's single-season record. The previous high was 399 makes in the 2000-01 season.
San Jose State finished the regular season one free throw attempt from tying the single-season record. This year's team has attempted 641 free throws with the record being held by the 1993-94 team at 642.
THE CUNNIGAN EFFECT
Freshman Ta'Rea Cunnigan has made an immediate impact on the Spartans and the conference.
She is the WAC's ninth-leading scorer. Her 13.1 points per game makes her the only freshman in the top-10 and one of four freshman in the top-20.
In all games played, Cunnigan is the conference's 12th-leading scorer (11.8 ppg), the leader among freshman and just one of two freshman in the top-20.
In addition, Cunnigan ranks sixth in steals (2.1). In WAC contests games, she is fifth in free throw percentage (.729) and seventh in steals (1.6).
CLIMBING THE SPARTANS RECORDS LIST
Many San Jose State players have enjoyed career years in 2011-12, but perhaps none more than senior Brittany Johnson.
Johnson finished the year as the program's single-season scoring leader with 572 points. In addition, her 153 free throws are also a Spartans' single-season record.
With 218 free throw attempts, she stands in second place behind Cricket Williams' 240 from the 2002-03 season.
Johnson went 206-of-481 from the field this year. Both numbers are the fifth best by a Spartan in a season.
Finally, Johnson attempted a single-game record 20 free throws in a game at Southern Utah on January 3.
Senior Sara Plavljanin has also put her name in the San Jose State single-season and career record books.
On the single-season lists, her 60 three-pointers and three-point shooting percentage of .382 rank fourth and sixth on the program's single season list. In addition, her 157 three-point field goal attempts rank eighth for a season.
For her career, Plavljanin ranks sixth in three-point percentage (.346), and seventh in three-point attempts (275) and three-point field goals (95).
Freshman Ta'Rea Cunnigan made 109 free throws in 2011-12 good for eighth on the single-season list. Her 158 free throw attempts are the sixth most in a season for San Jose State.
Senior Myesha Broaden has swatted 35 opponents shots this season and now has 56 blocks for her careeer, which ranks ninth on the program's career list.
A SEASON OF "FIRST TIME IN A LONG TIME"
In 2011-12 San Jose State accomplished a lot of things that it hadn't done in years.
With its 74-53 win at Santa Clara, San Jose State broke a nearly two-year road losing streak.
With wins at Southern Utah (70-68) and Utah Valley (57-45), San Jose State swept a road trip for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
With their win at Nevada (86-79), the Spartans ended a 44-game, six-year WAC road losing streak.
With its win over Hawai'i on January 14, San Jose State opened WAC play with a victory for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
With five wins before opening WAC play, the Spartans had their best non-conference win total since they got five in the 2005-06 season.
Their six conference wins are the most for the Spartans since they won eight WAC games in 2005-06.
From January 3 to January 19, San Jose State won four-straight games. It is the program's longest winning streak since the 2005-06 team put together a six-game run.
When San Jose State scored 77 points against USF it was the first time in 43 games that they broke the 70-point plateau. The last time the Spartans scored at least 70 points was a 75-64 win at Santa Clara.
Brittany Johnson's first-team All-WAC selection was the first for a Spartan since Lamish Augustine and Amber Jackson in 2006.
Ta'Rea Cunnigan being named the the WAC All-Freshman team is an honor that a Spartan hasn't enjoyed since Brittany Powell got in 2006-07.
Head coach Tim La Kose is the first Spartan to earn the WAC Coach of the Year honor since Janice Richard recieved it in 2001-02.