Women's Hoops Draws Idaho In WAC Tourney Opener

San Jose, Calif. - In their opening game of the 2013 Western Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament, the San Jose State women's basketball team faces Idaho on Wednesday, March 13 at 12:00 p.m. in the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. 

2013 WAC TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

Tuesday, March 12

G1                  #7 Denver vs. #10 Texas State                                     12:00 p.m.                 

G2                  #8 New Mexico State vs. #9 UTArlington                  2:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 13

G3                  #3 Idaho vs. #6 San Jose State**                              12:00 p.m.

G4                  #2 Utah State vs. Winner, Game 1                               2:30 p.m.

G5                  #1 Seattle U. vs. Winner Game 2                                 6:00 p.m.

G6                  #4 UTSA vs. Louisiana Tech                                       8:30 p.m.

Friday, March 15

G7                  Winner, Game 3 vs. Winner, Game 4                          12:00 p.m.

G8                  Winner, Game 5 vs. Winner, Game 6                          2:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 16

G9                  Winner, Game 7 vs. Winner, Game 8                          12:00 p.m.

**Live Stats available at www.sjsuspartans.com

**Simulcast on 90.5 KSJS-FM

**Broadcast on WAC.tv

LIVE STATS

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.

VIDEO STREAMING

All games in the WAC Basketball Tournament will be streamed live on WAC.tv.  Individual games may be purchased for $7.95.

Finals action will be broadcast on ESPNU.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Keep up with all 16 San Jose State's team through social media sites Twitter and Facebook.  For Twitter go to @sjsuathletics and on Facebook become friends with Sammy Spartan.

RADIO COVERAGE

KSJS-FM (90.5 FM, San Jose) will broadcast all San Jose State women's basketball game in the WAC Tournament.  Alex Scott and Justin Allegri call the play.

WAC BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT TICKETS

Tickets for all Western Athletic Conference Tournament games are available through the Oreleans Arena Box Office (702-284-777 or 888-234-2334).

Women's games only, $50 genera-admission package, is available or fans can opt to purchase an all-session package for $135, $165 or $300 though the Orleans Arena web site at www.orleansarena.com.

Single session tickets will not be available until the day of the game and cover a two-game session. 

CUNNIGAN NAMED FIRST TEAM ALL-WAC

Ta'Rea Cunnigan (So., G, Winchester, Calif.), the WAC's second  and the nation's 18th leading scorer, was selected as a first-team All-WAC performer by a poll of the conference's head coaches.  She also ranks in the top-10 in the conference in steals, free throw and 3-point percentage, 3-point field goals made and minutes played.

This season, the 5-9 guard from Chaparral High School, set the Spartans single-season record for free throws made (178) and entering the WAC Tournament is 19 points from breaking the single-season scoring record and is six free throw attempts from the program's single-season mark in that category.  Her 92 steals currently are seventh best for a Spartan in a season.

BYRD NAMED TO THREE ALL-WAC TEAMS

Riana Byrd  (Fr., F, Richmond, Calif.) is the most highly decorated freshman in San Jose State's 17 years of competing in the WAC.

Byrd earned All-Freshman Team, All-Defensive Team and third team All-WAC honors this season.

The Inderkum High School product, set the Spartans' single season blocks record (63) and became just the fifth player in school history to pull down 300+ rebounds while setting the freshman rebounding record (310).

Byrd, a 6-1 forward, led the conference in rebounds and blocked shots and was the only player to average a double double for the season (12.4 pts., 11.2 rebs.).  She was also the league leader in offensive and defensive rebounding, 3.93 and 6.76 rebounds, respectively. In WAC games she was the 10th leading percentage shooter.

She as twice named the conference's Player of the Week, one of three players to earn the honor twice this year.

SPARTANS TOP WAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK LIST

San Jose State athletes earned four WAC Player of the Week honors in 2012-13, the most by any school in the conference.

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.

Riana Byrd (Fr., F, Richmond, Calif.) was one of three players to earn the honor twice.  She first was recognized for her play from Dec. 26-Jan. 2 and then again from Feb. 25-March 3.

Texas State and New Mexico State players each won the award three times and in each instance they were honored three times in a four-week stretch.

BYRD SETS BLOCKS RECORDS/CLIMBING REBOUND LISTS

With two blocked shots at Texas State, Riana Byrd (Fr., F, Richmond, Calif.) extended her San Jose State freshman and single-season blocked shots records.  She currently has 63 blocks on the year.

Her 63 blocks are also good for seventh on the program's career shots blocked list.

With 310 rebounds, Byrd holds the freshman record for San Jose State and is in a third-place tie on the Spartans single-season rebounds list with Hall of Famer Elinor Banks.  She currently sits six boards behind Lora Alexander for second place and 19 behind Roberta Chew's record of 329 from the 1983-84 season.

CUNNIGAN CLIMBING LISTS AS WELL

With at least one more game to play in the 2012-13 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 and currently has 178 this year.  She passed Brittany Johnson who sank 158 in the 2011-12 season. Cunnigan is in second place in free throw attempts (235) with only Cricket Williams' 2002-03 record of 240 in front of her. 

Her 585 points are second 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 seventh place on the single-season steals list with 92.  Wanda Thompson holds the record with 136 steals set in 1979-80.

In career records, Cunnigan currently stands in third place on the free throws made list with 287.  Cricket Williams holds the record at 466.  She is seventh on the free throw attempts list at 393.  Williams holds the record with 732.

CUNNIGAN NAMED CAPITAL ONE ACADEMIC ALL-DISRTICT VII

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.

QUICK HITS

Riana Byrd is the only player in the WAC averaging a double double (11.2 pts., 10.7 rebs.)

Ta'Rea Cunnigan has gone to the free throw line more times (235) and made more free throws (178) 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.

FABULOUS FRESHMAN CONTINUE TO SOAR

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 18th in scoring.  Nationally she is 25th in rebounds and 28th in blocks.  Against UTSA (12/31), she equaled 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.

HITTING THE BOOKS

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.

DYNAMIC DUO

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

SPARTANS THE YOUNGEST IN DIVISION I

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 transferring 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).

SPARTANS IN THE WAC TOURNAMENT

San Jose State has not enjoyed playing in the WAC Tournament as much as they would have liked in the last 17 years.  The Spartans have made 12 appearances in the tournament, but have a 5-12 record in the games they have played.

In their 17 games San Jose State has faced 10 different opponents. The team they have faced more times than any other is also the only team that they have multiple wins over...Idaho.

The Spartans have played Idaho three times in the WAC Tournament and hold a 2-1 record in those games.  They defeated the Vandals in their first-round games in both the 2007 and 2008 tournaments, but lost to Idaho last season.

LAST TIME OUT

The Texas State Bobcats shot 55 percent from the floor including 12-of-25 from 3-point range and defeated the San Jose State women's basketball team 100-67 in the Strahan Coliseum in both team's regular season finale.

Diamond Ford, the leading scorer in the Western Athletic Conference, had a game-high 25 points on 11-for-23 shooting and Ashley Ezeh was 9-for-11 and scored 23 points in the win.

San Jose State committed 23 turnovers, which led to 35 Bobcat points and shot 38 percent from the floor.  Riana Byrd led the Spartans with 15 points and 17 rebounds.  Ta'Rea Cunnigan had 16 points and Emily Schill added 12.

Texas State was hot from the get go.  They hit four of their first five from 3-point range and had a 14-6 lead by the first media timeout. The made three more treys, and made a total of seven in the half and took a 49-34 lead into the half.

In the second half the hot shooting continued as Texas State made 22-of-39 shots, 10 more than the Spartans and won going away 100-67.

The 100 points are the most the Spartans have allowed this season and the most since Texas State scored 96 against them in a 98-96 loss in the Event Center.

The loss by the Spartans locks them into the six seed in the WAC Basketball Tournament and will face Idaho, the three seed, on Wednesday, March 13 at noon in the Orleans Arena.

SCOUTING IDAHO

The Vandals finished the regular season at 14-15 overall, 11-7 in conference action and are the third seed in the WAC Tournament.  Last week, in their only game, they lost at Seattle U. 55-53. 

Idaho is being outscored by less than a single point per game (65.3-to-65.5) this year.  They love to shoot from long range having hoisted 728 3-point shots and making 237 for a .326 success rate, all league highs.  They lead the conference in 3-pointers made per game at 8.17.  Their 847 rebounds lead the WAC and they are the second best team in terms of field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to .375.

At 13.6 points, the WAC's 10th ranked scorer Alyssa Charlston, a junior forward, leads the Vandals.  Charlston is also the No. 13 rebounder in the conference at 7.3 per game.

Christina Salvatore, a freshman forward, is also in double digits at 11.7 points per game and has attempted more 3-pointers than any player in the conference (160)

Jon Newlee is in his fifth season leading the Idaho women's basketball program.  Entering 2012-13 he had a 151-71 record in Moscow and a 179-184 record in 13 seasons as a head coach.

This will be the 28th meeting between these two programs.  Idaho holds a 17-10 advantage and has won the last six meetings.  In neutral site games, San Jose State holds a 2-1 advantage, but Idaho won the last such meeting, last season in the WAC Tournament.

First Meeting This Season

(82-65 Idaho win in Moscow, Idaho. - 1/3/13)

A 16-0 run in the first half propelled the Idaho Vandals to a 82-65 win over San Jose State in each team's opening game in Western Athletic Conference play.

Tied 15-15 and 10:44 to play in the first, Idaho made six unanswered buckets and a pair of free throws over a span of 6:43 to take a 31-15 lead.  Stacy Barr, who finished with 10 points and 10 boards, keyed the spurt.

Barr was one of five Vandals in double digit scoring and one of three who grabbed double digits rebounds.  Alyssa Charlston had a double double for Idaho with 12 points and 10 boards.

Idaho was clicking from outside and inside.  They hit 11 3-pointers in 22 attempts.  It was the fourth game this season where San Jose State has seen its opponent make 10 or more shots from long distance.

SJSU was dominated on the boards 60-to-39, including 23-to-14 on the offensive glass, which Idaho used for a 10-point disparity in second chance points (22-12).

Once the lead was established, Idaho built as much as a 28-point advantage in the second half, they never allowed the Spartans to cut it to single digits.  A three-point play by Alexis Hill trimmed the deficit to 13 with 2:51 to play but the Vandals had the score and time on their side and took the win 82-65.

The nation's 18th leading scorer, Ta'Rea Cunnigan, who finished with a game-high 20 points, led San Jose State.  Jayzyl Tauala had 12 points and Riana Byrd grabbed 12 rebounds.

Second Meeting This Season

(83-66 Idaho win in San Jose, Calif. - 2/2/13)

The San Jose State Spartans and Idaho Vandals shot nearly identically from the floor, 39.4-to-40.8 percent, respectively, but Idaho hit 14 3-pointers and took an 83-66 Western Athletic Conference (WAC) women's basketball victory in The Event Center.  The Idaho win stops the Spartans four-game home winning streak.

"They came out shooting the three really well and just kept going," said head coach Tim La Kose, "We played well in some aspects of our defense, but struggled in others and didn't do a good job from free throw line. That was really the difference today."

Each team launched 71 shots: Idaho knocking down 29 to the Spartans 28.  But among the Vandals attempts were 37 from 3-point range, a high for a San Jose State opponent.  At the free throw line the Spartans made just 6-of-14 for a season low 42.9 percent.

Each team had four players in double digits, led by Idaho's Christina Salvatore, who scored 19 of her game-high 22 points in the first half.  San Jose State's Emily Schill and Ta'Rea Cunnigan had 14 points each and Cunnigan added 14 rebounds.

PICK YOUR POISON

San Jose State came out with an eye on stopping Idaho's top scorer, forward Alyssa Charlston.  Classye James was assigned the task of shadowing Charlston and her stifling defense limited the WAC's eighth-leading scorer to just a pair of free throws in the first 20 minutes.

Idaho, leading the conference in 3-point shooting at .332, took what the Spartans gave them and knocked down 10-of-20 3-point attempts in the half.  Salvatore had five and the Spartans trailed 42-36 at the break.

"Our defensive game plan was to run a box and one and take Charlston out of the game," said James.  "We made adjustments at halftime because (Salvatore) was really killing us from 3-point range.  If you get open looks your going to knock them down."

While Idaho was hot from the outside the Spartans dominated the game inside scoring 28 of their 36 first half points in the paint.  Schill scored eight of her 10 first half points off layups.

EARLY SECOND HALF RUN DOOMS SPARTANS

In the first five minutes of the second half, the Vandals put together a 19-to-5 run, which included three 3-pointers and a 3-point play.  They built a 20-point lead and never let the Spartans get any closer than 15 the remainder of the half-en route to the 17-point win.

Joining Cunnigan and Schill in double figures were Riana Byrd with 13 points and nine rebounds and Chereese Thomas who had 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals.