Women's Hoops Opens With San Francisco State

San Jose, Calif. - The San Jose State women's basketball team opens the 2012-13 season this week hosting the San Francisco State Gators in The Event Center.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2012, 7:00 P.M.


Fans can view live stats of all San Jose State 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.

The Gold Zone is your passport to Spartan Athletics.  For live video/audio of San Jose State women's basketball home games, sign up to be a Gold Zone member at www.sjsuspartans.com.

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.

KSJS (90.5 FM, San Jose) originates San Jose State women's basketball home broadcasts.  Alex Scott calls the women's basketball play-by-play.

Tickets for San Jose State women's basketball home games are free for all SJSU students with a valid student ID.  Adult tickets are $5.00 and $3.00 for youth (12 and under).  A "Spartan 4-Pack", four tickets to any game and fans of any age for $15.00.

Groups of 20 or more can buy discounted tickets at $3.00 per person by 5:00 p.m. the business day before the game via the Spartan Ticket Office at (408) 924-SJTX (7589) or (877) SJSUTIX (757-8849).

The Event Center Box Office opens two hours prior to tip-off for any weekend, holiday game or doubleheader and is open regular business hours (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) for weekday games or doubleheaders.

Parking for all San Jose State women's basketball games is in the University's Seventh Street Parking Garage. The Seventh Street Garage, located on the Northwest corner of San Salvador Street and Seventh Street, can be accessed through Seventh Street.  Parking is $5.00.

The Spartans played their only exhibition of the year, a 66-57 win against the Cal State East Bay Pioneers, last week.

The Spartans had three players in double-figure scoring. Center Emily Schill had a double-double with 16 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, Ta'Rea Cunnigan had 15 and Jayzyl Tauala scored 11.

Playing an up-beat tempo the entire evening, San Jose State pulled away midway through the second half as Cal State East Bay went more than nine minutes without a field goal. Two Schill free throws with 8:17 to go gave the Spartans a 50-49 lead. San Jose State then extended its lead to as many as 11 points with its only 3-point field goal of the second half by Alexis Hill.

San Jose State was 22-of-35 from the free throw line and scored 10 consecutive second-half points between Riana Byrd field goals at the 10:49 and 6:49 marks in the final 20 minutes.

San Jose State has fallen on hard times in recent home and season openers.  The Spartans haven't tasted victory on a home or season opener since 2005-06 when they defeated Gonzaga 69-61.  

Since the 1977-78 season, San Jose State is 14-21 in home openers and 16-19 in season opening games.  With a victory on November 9, against San Francisco State, the Spartans can break a seven-game losing streak in both home and season openers.

The Gators went 8-20 last season, 7-15 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association and finished in 10th place.

Among eight returners, SFSU is led by Nicole Hicks (11.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 74.5 % FT), last year's leading scorer.  The Gators' top rebounder, Farrah Shokoor (8.3 rpf, 5.8 ppg, 53 asst) is also back as is their top outside threat Angela Van Sickel.

Joaquin Wallace is in his eighth season leading his alma mater's women's hoops program.  He brings a 72-123 record into the 2012-13 season.  

"We are excited to hit the floor against a team, in different jerseys," head coach Tim La Kose said.  "We've had a good month-plus of practice and the team is working well together.  This game gives us a chance to gauge where we are and what we need to clean up, as we head toward the regular-season opener (11/9)."

The Spartans have two players returning from last season, guard Ta'Rea Cunnigan, a 2012-13 second-team Preseason All-WAC selection, and Oregon State transfer Classye James. They are joined by the 2011-12 NorCal Co-JC Player of the Year  Chereese Thomas and a slew of freshman.

Emily Schill, a 6-0 forward from Tecoma, Victoria, Australia, won the 2009 Australian High School Championship and led her team back to the final game last year.  A 5-7 guard, Alexis Hill and Jamiyla DeBoise, a 5-10 forward, were teammates at Houston's Westside High School.  DeBoise earned first-team All-Houston Independent School District honors, while Hill was named to the Texas All-Region III Team as one of the top 80 high school players in Texas.

Jayzyl Tauala, a 5-5 guard, was a first-team All-Peninsula Athletic League selection last year at Pacifica's Terra Nova High School.  Riana Byrd, a 6-1 forward, was a three-time Tri-County League champion at Sacramento's Inderkum High School, she also earned League MVP honors as a freshman, junior and senior and was named the team MVP in each of those years, as well.  Paris Baird was a member of the the 2010-11 CIF Division IV State Championship team at The Windward School in Los Angeles.  The 6-0 forward will redshirt the 2012-13 season.    

"We'd love to see lots of fans at the Tip-Off Dinner (Tuesday, October 30 at 5:30 p.m. in The Event Center) to meet the team," La Kose said.  "This is going to be an exciting season and Tuesday is a chance for fans to get to know the athletes who will be wearing the Spartan uniform for them."

In two polls, the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) head coaches and the media members who cover WAC women's basketball, the San Jose State Spartans were chosen to finish the regular season in seventh place.  

San Jose State, which finished 11-19 overall, 6-8 in WAC play and in a fourth place tie last season, had nine more wins than its previous season and the most wins since 2005-06.  The nine-game improvement was amongst the best in the nation.

San Jose State improved its scoring by 487 points from the previous season and increased its per-game scoring average from 47.7 points to 64.5.  The team's 1,870 total points rank fourth best in San Jose State history.

Utah State (78 points, seven first-place votes) led the coach's poll followed closely by Louisiana Tech (75 points, three first-place votes).  Denver, Seattle U and Idaho round out the top half of the poll with 55, 48 and 47 points, respectively. Texas State (41), San Jose State (36), New Mexico State (27), UTSA (26) and UT Arlington (17) make up the second five in the poll.

Sophomore guard Ta'Rea Cunnigan was named a second team Preseason All-WAC performer by votes of the media who cover women's basketball in the Western Athletic Conference and by the leagues 10 head coaches.
In 2011-12, Cunnigan led all WAC freshmen in scoring at 11.8 points per game, was sixth in the conference in steals, snatching 2.07 per game, and was named to the 2011-12 WAC All-Freshman team.

A 5-9 guard, Cunnigan was the Spartans third-leading scorer and ranked second on the team in steals.  She scored a season-high 21 points at Nevada and reached double-figure in 12 of 14 WAC contests.

Cunnigan is the first Spartans women's basketball player to garner Preseason All-WAC honors since Natalie White was named a second-team Preseason All-WAC performer prior to the 2008-09 season.

In a list compiled by Sports Information Directors 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 who has one year of college experience.  Classye James had one year of college experience (Oregon State) before transfering and sitting out last year and Chereese Thomas 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 2013 Western Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament will be played at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., from March 12 throught 16.

The tournament begins on Tuesday, March 12, as seeds 7-10 play each other.  The quarterfinals will be played on Thursday, March 14, followed by the semifinals on Friday, March 15, and championship game on Saturday, March 16, with the winner earning an automatic berth to the 2013 NCAA Basektball Tournament.
Spartan basketball fans got a preview of this year's team at the Annual Tip-Off Dinner which was held on October 30 in The Event Center. The evening kicked off with a reception and auction followed by dinner.  After dinner the teams, women's and men's, and staffs were introduced and prospects for the upcoming season were discussed.