San Jose, Calif. - The San Jose State women's basketball team meet the Utah State Aggies in the opening game of the 2015 Mountain West Tournament on Monday afternoon. The eighth-seeded Spartans and ninth-seeded Aggies split the season series and will meet on a neutral court for the first time in series history.
2015 Mountain West Tournament
#8 San Jose State Spartans
#9 Utah State Aggies
Monday, March 9, 2:05 p.m.
Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nev.
Streaming video is available on the Spartan Digital Network at www.sjsuspartans.com/video
Live stats available at www.sjsuspartans.com
Fans can view live stats of all San José State women's basketball games, home and away, by accessing the "Gametracker" feature at www.sjsuspartans.com. Click on the link on the women's basketball schedule page to follow the action.
Spartan Digital is your all-access passport to Spartan Athletics. For live and recorded video/audio of San José State women's basketball home, Mountain West (road and home) and select road contests, Spartan Digital is your home. Go to Spartan Digital at top of the Spartans Athletics home page or go to www.sjsuspartans.com/video.
Keep up with all 16 of San José State's team through social media sites Twitter and Facebook. For Twitter go to @sjsuathletics and on Facebook become friends with Sammy Spartan.
The women's basketball Twitter handle is @sjswbb and Facebook page is /SanJoseStateWBB.
Fans across the nation can now listen to every Spartans' women's home game via Stretch Internet Radio. KSJS-FM (90.5 FM, San Jose) also originates home broadcasts and select road contests.
SPARTANS IN THE MOUNTAIN WEST TOURNAMENT
San José State, in its second year in the Mountain West, is 0-1 all-time in the conference tournament. Last year, as the 10th seed, the Spartans held a 73-72 lead over seventh-seeded UNLV with 39 seconds to play. Down the stretch the Rebels sank six straight free throws while SJSU made only one shot from the field and lost 78-75.
SO CLOSE...BUT NO CIGAR
In each of the last three seasons, San José State has been eliminated in the first round of its conference tournament by four, two and three points, respectively. In 2011-12 it was a four-point loss to Idaho, 67-63. Idaho did it again to the Spartans in 2012-13 with a two-point win 57-55. Last year, its first in the Mountain West, San José State was beaten by UNLV, 78-75.
CUNNIGAN REACHES 2,000-CAREER POINTS
Ta'Rea Cunnigan (Sr., G, Winchester, Calif.), San José State's career-scoring leader (men and women's programs), is the first player in school history to score 2,000-career points. Cunnigan entered the game at UNLV (3/6), needing 23 points to reach 2,000 for her career. She led the Spartans with 28, in a 99-97 victory. It was her 103rd double-figure scoring effort in 119 career games.
Cunnigan became the 338th player in the modern era of NCAA Division I Women's Basketball (1981-2015) to reach 2,000-career points. Entering the game against Utah State, Cunnigan has scored 2,005-career points.
TA'REA WRITES REWRITES HISTORY
In addition to being the only basketball player in San José State history (man or woman) to score 1,800, then 1,900 and now 2,000-career points, Ta'Rea Cunnigan (Sr., G, Winchester, Calif.) also holds the school record (man or woman) for free throws (534) and free throw attempts (734).
When the ball is tipped against Utah State, she will have equaled the most games played in program history (120), and with her second field goal attempt, will set the school shot attempts record (man or woman) with 1,687.
In addition, among Spartan women's basketball players, she ranks second in scoring average (16.8/g), third in field goals (667), fourth in steals (256), sixth in both three-pointers (137), three-point attempts (450) and free throw percentage (72.8%) and finally, she is ninth in assists (273).
THE SERIES WITH UTAH STATE
The Spartans and Aggies split the 2014-15 season series with each team defending its home court. San José State won the Mountain West opener (12/31), 62-58 in The Event Center. Utah State took the rematch, in Logan, 85-80 (2/18). It's just the third time in 10 years as conference opponents that the teams have split the home-and-home (2006-07, 2012-13 & 2014-15).
SINGLE-SEASON SCORING MARK IS GOING DOWN
The 2013-14 Spartans were the most prolific scoring team in program history, passing the 2,300-point mark for the first time and finishing the year with 2,308, an average 76.9 points per game. The 2014-15 Spartans are on pace to top last year's mark. The team has scored 2,281 points through 29 games, an average of 78.7 per game. The team enters the Mountain West Tournament 28 points from setting a new scoring mark.
SPARTANS FLEX SCORING MUSCLE IN REGULAR SEASON FINALE
In its 99-97 defeat of UNLV (3/6), the Spartans and Rebels combined to score a Cox Pavilion record 196 points. In addition, the 19 three-pointers San José State dropped on UNLV are a single-game record for the program and an arena record. Included in SJSU's output of threes, were eight from long-range sharp shooter Rebecca Woodberry (Sr., F, Phoenix, Ariz.). Her eight treys equaled a 12-year old program record and set a record for UNLV's gym.
MW SCORING MARK FALLS
With its 119 point eruption against Columbia (11/16), the Spartans established a new single-game scoring record for a Mountain West team. They erased the 12-year old record of 110 points, which was held by Colorado State.
The Spartans also set school records with 42 free throws made and 53 free throw attempts. The teams combined for 69 made free throws, which is a Mountain West record. San Jose State's 89 field goal attempts and 53 free throw attempts are No. 2 in Mountain West history. Finally, the combined 195 points, the Spartans' 119 points and the free throws made and attempted totals are Event Center records and the field goals (35) and field goal attempts tied Event Center records....Whew!
BYRD TWO BLOCKS FROM THE CAREER RECORD
With a pair of first-half blocked shots against Colorado State (2/25), Riana Byrd (Jr., F, Richmond, Calif.) moved past Rhoda Chew's (148 blocks from 1982-85) for second place on the program's career shot blocks list. After two blocks at Boise State (3/3), Byrd has turned away 154 shots in 88 career games. She is two blocks from equaling San José State's all-time leader Elinor Banks' (1978-81), who rejected 156 shot attempts in her Spartans career.
PUTTING UP POINTS
The 2014-15 Spartans are one of the highest scoring teams in the nation and have led the Mountain West from the opening week of the season. SJSU currently ranks 11th (78.7 ppg) in the nation and last week dropped out of the top-10 for the first time this year. For parts of four weeks, from December 6 through December 23, San José State was the top scoring team in the nation.
SJSU won its13th game of the season, with a 99-97 victory at UNLV (3/6) in the conference regular-season finale. The last time San José State won more than 11 games in a year came in 2005-06, when they finished 13-15.
BYRD BOUNDS UP THE REBOUND LIST
With six rebounds versus Boise State (1/21) Riana Byrd (Jr., F, Richmond, Calif.) secured third place on San José State's career rebounding list. To date, Byrd has ripped down 795 rebounds in 87 games (9.2/g). She began the season in ninth place with 603 career boards and has moved up six spots, but she has some work to do to reach Rhoda Chew (946 rebounds from 1982-85) in second place.
At her current pace, Byrd would finish her career as just the second Spartan to reach the 1,000-point/1,000-rebound plateau. She would join Elinor Banks (1,672 points/1,062 rebounds - 1978-81) as the only players in program history to reach the milestone.
PRESSURE...SPARTANS 17TH IN STEALS & 11TH IN THE NCAA IN TURNOVER MARGIN
Through 29 games the Spartans have one of the most impressive pressure defenses in the nation. SJSU has forced its opponents to turn the ball over 603 times and in those, made 326 steals. San José State has made those opponent miscues pay off to the tune of a 569-367 advantage in points off turnovers. Nationally, the team ranks 11th in turnover margin at 6.10 and 17th in steals per game nabbing 11.2 per game. The team finished the Mountain West regular season first in turnover margin and second in steals.
FIRST OFF THE BENCH
Rachol West (So., F, Bakersfield, Calif.) has nearly doubled her per game scoring average, from 3.3 to 6.5. It took West just 12 games to surpass her 29-game point total from a year ago. She ranks second on the team in 3-pointers (36) and is the leading shooter from distance (.343). A 19-point outburst against Sacramento State (12/22) in which she drained 5-of-8 treys and grabbed five rebounds in just 19 minutes of work earned her first Mountain West Women's Basketball Player of the Week honor.
CUNNIGAN AMONG ACTIVE CAREER LEADERS IN THE NCAA
Among Division I women's basketball players, Ta'Rea Cunnigan (Sr., G, Winchester, Calif.) ranks second free throws made (534) and free throws attempted (734). She is 16th in steals (256). Her 1,685 field goal attempts are 12th most among active women players and she ranked 16th in field goals (667). Her 16.8/g career scoring average is the 22nd highest among current players. Finally, Cunnigan is the third leading scorer among active players with 2,005 career points and the 338th player in the Modern Era (1981-2015) to reach the 2,000-point plateau.
SPARTANS RANK 13th IN THE NATION IN 3-POINTERS
San José State is hitting an average of 8.2 shots from beyond the arc per game, which ranks13th in the nation and is second in the Mountain West, but taking and hitting threes are nothing new under head coach Jamie Craighead.
With 245 made 3-pointers and 793 attempts, the 2013-14 Spartans shattered the program's previous marks in each category. The previous record of 146 3-pointers in the 27 games (1999-00) was equaled in just 20 games (at UNLV 1/29) last season. In addition, they passed the previous record for attempts in a season (493 in 29 games in 2000-01) in that same game. Both marks set Mountain West Conference records as well.
SCOUTING UTAH STATE
The Aggies finished the regular season 8-21 overall, 5-13 in Mountain West play and are the ninth seed in the conference tournament. Away from the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, the team is just 1-7 in Mountain West games and 1-15 overall. They have played two games on a neutral court this year and lost both times.
Utah State is under the direction of third-year head coach Jerry Finkbeiner. He brought a 507-272 record in 25 years as collegiate head coach into 2014-15. In three seasons in Logan his teams have a combined record of 41-51.
Freshman guard Funda Nakkasoglu leads the Aggies in points (16.9/g) and assists (4.7/g). Elise Nelson, a senior guard, leads the team with 6.7 rebounds per game. Utah State is averaging 63.5 point per game and shoots .396 from the floor.
This will be the 22nd meeting between these programs in which the Aggies hold a dominant 15-6 advantage.