Evansville, Ind. - Ta'Rea Cunnigan had a double double, but the University of Evansville Purple Aces hit a school record 15 3-pointers and sent the San Jose State women's basketball team to a 74-65 defeat on Saturday afternoon in the Ford Center.
Down by nine points, 50-41, with 12:41 to play, the Spartans (2-1) went on a 21-to-5 scoring binge over six and a half minutes and took a 62-55 lead with 6:07 left on the clock. Cunnigan had nine of her career-high 28 points in the run and was complemented by eight points from Chereese Thomas.
"We overcame a big deficit and took a good lead," head coach Tim La Kose said of the run, "so we did a lot of things well, but our inconsistency was the difference. We worked hard to build that lead but defensive breakdowns cost us. We also missed some shots and turned the ball over. You do those things and you end up on the losing end, like we did today."
Over the next two minutes, Evansville (2-1) hit two of their 15 threes and with 4:03 to play the game was tied 63-63. During the final stretch, San Jose State was limited to one-shot attempt on four of their five possessions, they turned the ball over three times and gave up three offensive rebounds.
With the Spartans forced to foul, The Purple Aces hit 8-of 10 free throws down the stretch and took the nine-point win.
"They got an open three (which gave Evansville a 68-63 lead) and we kind of lost our composure," said Cunnigan who in addition to 28 points had 10 rebounds, five steals, three blocks and two assists. "We turned the ball over on the other end and they converted those into points."
San Jose State opened with a 7-4 advantage but after the first media timeout, at 15:11, the Purple Aces began their assault from behind the arc. On six of their next seven possessions, over a five minute stretch, they hit 3-pointers and turned the three-point deficit into a 10-point lead 24-14.
Down 28-18 with 7:12 to go in the half, San Jose State got back into it with a 10-to-0 run, tying the game 28-28 with just over three minutes to go before intermission. They got five points each from Alexis Hill, who finished the game with a season-high 11 points, and Cunnigan.
But as soon as the Spartans tied it up, Evansville started hitting 3-pointers again. They made three on their next four possessions with Samantha Heck draining one as time expired. Heck led the Purple Aces with 18 points and 11 rebounds for the game.
"We had fewer turnovers (16-to-20); beat them in the paint (40 points-to-14) and at the free throw line (13-to-11)," La Kose said. "We put ourselves in a position to win, we just have to learn to close the game out."
The Spartans wrap up their two-game Midwest road trip on Monday, November 19 at Eastern Illinois. The tipoff is set for 12:00 p.m. in Lantz Arena.