San Jose, Calif. - Riana Byrd equaled an Event Center record with 19 rebounds and added 17 points as the San Jose State women's basketball team defeated the Cal State Northridge Matadors 73-63 on Saturday afternoon.
"I felt that I hadn't been playing my best in the last couple of games," Byrd said. "I wanted to pick it up today. I didn't realize how many (rebounds) I had, I just kept telling myself to keep working."
Byrd's 19 boards equals a record set by Teoma Taylor on January 2, 2003 in a 69-64 win over Boise State. It is her second double double of the season.
Three other Spartans (3-3) scored in double figures. Ta'Rea Cunnigan led all scorers with 20 points, Emily Schill had 15 and Alexis Hill chipped in 10.
In the first seven minutes, the Matadors (4-3) built a 12-6 lead, but for the rest of the half the game was one of unmatched scoring runs.
San Jose State went first with a 10-0 spurt, in little more than two minutest time, to take a 16-12 advantage with 10:47 to go before halftime. Four points each from Cunnigan and Schill sparked the run.
No sooner had the Spartans taken the lead then they went cold from the floor. CSU Northridge ripped off 17-straight points over an eight-minute stretch to go ahead 29-16.
With 2:29 to play in the half, San Jose State finally ended the drought with a Hill free throw, which started a 9-0 run for the Spartans to end the period. Hill had a three-point play with 46 seconds left and a Schill layup with 18 seconds to go made the score 29-25 in favor of the Matadors as the team's went to the locker rooms.
"We had a stretch there were we couldn't score," head coach Tim LaKose said. "We were able to close it down to five points by the end of the half. We stayed composed and got the game to two possessions. At halftime we talked about what got us those two runs. With Riana we talked about continuing to hit the boards and the points would come for her. She responded well."
San Jose State dominated the points in the paint outscoring CSUN 18-to-8 in the first 20 minutes.
"They were a big team," Byrd said. "Our coaches are always telling us to control the paint. That's what I was focused on. I wanted to rebound more and stop fading away on my shots. I had to start going up stronger."
Cal State Northridge got the first hoop of the second half, but then the Spartans went on an 11-0 run led by five points and three rebounds from Byrd.
The Matador's Janae Sharpe, who led her team with 16 points, hit a 3-pointer and a layup on successive possessions to put Northridge in front 36-35 with 15:46 to play. It would be the last lead the CSUN would enjoy in the game.
A Marta Masoni jumper for Northridge, with 12:38 to go, cut the lead to 41-40. But over the next two and a half minutes San Jose State ripped off 12 straight points. They went 3-of-4 from the field and hit 6-of-7 free throws.
"We did a better job of focusing on the rim, in the second half, and getting the ball inside," La Kose said. "We were rewarded with a lot of layups and free throws."
San Jose State built its biggest lead, 14 points, with 5:29 to play, before taking the win by 10 points.
"In the second half we got a couple of good runs and had the momentum on our side," Alexis Hill said. "We were working as a team and picked up our defensive intensity (holding Cal State Northridge to 35 percent shooting in the second half) which made things better on the offensive end."
Of San Jose State's 17 hoops in the second half, 12 came on layups. For the game the Spartans dominated the baseline out scoring their opponent 46-to-22 in the paint and out rebounding them 47-to-38.
"We want to force our opponents into turnovers, but if not we want them to get one contested shot from outside and then hit the boards," La Kose said. "In the second half that's more of what happened and the result speaks for itself.
"After the adversity we had on the road, I was happy to see the team bounce back tonight. We had a good week of practice and were able to transfer that to the court today. November and December are all about getting better and learning. We have a very young team and we want to get better every game regardless of the opponent. We learned a lot in November and were off to a good start in December. We want to keep improving and keep rolling."
The Spartans will have a chance to do that on Monday, December 3, when they welcome the Pacific Tigers (6-0) to the Event Center. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m.