San Jose, Calif. - The San Jose State women's basketball team had five players score in double figures led by senior Brittany Johnson's 13 point, 14 rebound double-double as the Spartans defeated the Cal State East Bay Pioneers 70-53 on Sunday in an exhibition game in the Event Center.
"Coach (La Kose) preaches 'attack, finish, defend and repeat" and that's what we did," Johnson said. "In the second half we increased the pressure and that led to more turnovers by (Cal State East Bay)."
Freshman Ta'rea Cunnigan led the Spartans with 14 points.
"It felt good for our first game," Cunnigan said. "We applied good pressure on defense and that led to some good offensive chances. Personally, it was nerve wracking at first, but once the ball went up it was just basketball."
Johnson and Myesha Broaden each scored 13. Broaden, a center, nailed three 3-pointers, all in the first half. Sara Plavljanin and Brea Matthews added 12 points each, with Plavljanin getting nine of the Spartans 20 steals on the day.
"We want Spartan basketball to be recognized for defensive pressure," head coach Tim La Kose said. "We want to force turnovers and our defense will be our best offense."
Cal State East Bay (CSUEB) hit the games first shot, a 3-pointer by Cassie Coble, which it turned out would be the biggest lead the Pioneers would enjoy all day.
The Spartans defensive pressure forced 14 first half turnovers and by the 7:03 mark San Jose State had built a 16-point lead, 30-14. A 13-0 run over the next four minutes cut the lead to 30-27, but a Broaden 3-pointer with 3:07 left in the half sparked a 12-2 run for the Spartans who took a 42-29 advantage into the half.
In the first half San Jose State out rebounded the Pioneers 20-to-12 including 11-to-2 on the offensive glass.
"If we are not hitting the shots," Johnson said, "we have to hit the boards hard and that is what you saw today. We played pretty well, but we can and will get better."
In the second half the Spartans pushed their advantage to a high of 18 points after Rachel Finnegan hit two free throws with 10:21 remaining in the game. From there San Jose State cruised to a 17-point win, 70-53.
For the game the Spartans shot 35 percent (24-of-68), but outscored CSUEB 24-to-14 in the paint, 30-to-17 in points off turnovers and 10-to-3 in second chance points.
"We have to focus on finishing," La Kose said. "Our defense gave us some good opportunities to score, but we came up empty in too many of them and that is something we have to work on.
"I think we did a lot of things well and that is the pattern we want to get into. I'm excited about the potential of this team and it is just a matter of cleaning up some things to make even more strides."
San Jose State opens the regular season next Sunday, November 13 against San Francisco in the Event Center. Tipoff on Walt McPherson Court is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.