WBB Hosts Southern Utah Looking For Fourth Win

San Jose, Calif. - After losing its first home game of the year, 74-60 to undefeated Pacific, the San Jose State women's basketball team (3-4) welcome Southern Utah to the Event Center this week and hope to get back to .500 with a win.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2012, 2:00 P.M.

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w 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.

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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.

Riana Byrd (Fr., F, Richmond, Calif.) has been named Western Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Nov. 26-Dec. 2. This is her first WAC Player of the Week honor.

The Richmond, Calif. native posted her second double-double of the season with 17 points and 19 rebounds in a win over Cal State Northridge, a team that had only lost at Arizona and to No. 6 Penn State. Her 19 boards equaled The Event Center rebounding record, which was set in the 2002-03 season, and was two shy of the program's all-time record. At halftime, with the Spartans down by five points, Byrd had yet to score a point and had six rebounds. She scored 17 points and pulled down 13 rebounds in the final 20 minutes of the game to bring San Jose State back to .500 on the season. Her points, rebounds, free throws (9) and free throw attempts (11) were all career highs.

Byrd is the second Spartan to be named WAC Player of the Week this season.  Ta'Rea Cunnigan (So., G, Winchester, Calif.) earned the honor for her play for the week of Nov. 12-18.

Ta'Rea Cunnigan (So., G, Winchester, Calif.), a member of the 2011-12 WAC All-Freshman Team, is among the leading scorers in the WAC this year and among the top-point producers in the nation and it just eight points shy of reaching the 500 career-point plateau.

She has scored 144 points so far this season reaching double-digits in all seven games and as scoring at least 20 points in five of the last six. Combined with her 348 points from last year, Cunnigan has scored 492 points in 37 career games (an average of 13.3 ppg).

Cunnigan ranks second in the WAC at 21.7 points per game and is ranked 14th in the nation in points per game.

Cunnigan is also closing in on 100 steals for her career.  As a freshman she picked her opponents pockets 60 times and so far this season has done the same another 29 times.  Entering the Southern Utah game she is 11 steals shy of 100 for her career.

Riana Byrd (Fr., F, Richmond, Calif.) matched an 11-year old Event Center record when she grabbed 19 rebounds against Cal State Northridge (12/1).  Byrd tied a record set in the 2002-03 season by Teoma Taylor in a 69-64 win over Boise State.

Rhoda Chew , who in 1983-84 set the program's single-season rebounding record with 329, owns the single-game mark with 21 rebounds in a game.  She achieved the feat twice, against  Santa Clara (2/21/84) and Pacific (12/8/84).

With an eye on creating defensive pressure, the Spartans are among the best in the nation in taking the ball away from their opponents.  Among 343 Division I schools, the Spartans are ranked 20th in the nation in steals, averaging 13.2 takeaways a game.

Among WAC schools, the Spartans are third in steals with three players ranked in the top-10.  Ta'Rea Cunnigan (So., G, Winchester, Calif.) is averaging 4.1 steals is second in the conference.  Classye James (So., G, Palo Alto, Calif.) and Chereese Thomas (Jr., G, Dublin, Calif.), fifth and seventh in the conference, are are averaging 2.5 and 2.43 steals per game, respectively. 

The three also rank sixth (Cunnigan), 79th (Thomas) and 86th (James) in the nation in that category.

Riana Byrd (Fr., F, Richmond, Calif.) leads the WAC in blocked shots with 11 overall, an average of 1.83 per game.  Her per game average ranks 52nd in the nation.  She has recorded at least one block in each game this year, two blocks in four games and a high of three vs. UVU (11/15).

She is second in the WAC in rebounds per game (9.8) and her 59 total rebounds are the second most in the conference.  Her 3.83 offensive rebounds per game ranks second in the league and she is also second in defensive rebounding (6.0).

After equaling their longest stretch away from The Event Center, three games, the Spartans are in the midst of their longest home stand of the season, four games.

San Jose State won the opener of the quartet 73-63 over Cal State Northridge (12/1), which moved the team's home record to 3-0 at the time.  A 74-60 loss to Pacific (12/3) ended the home streak. 

So far the Spartans have yet to get a win on the road (0-3).  Their next opportunity will come on Dec. 15 when they play at San Francisco.

With their win over Cal State Northridge (12/1) the Spartans  got their third win in the sixth game of the season.  It is the second fewest number of games in the last 10 years for the team to get to three wins. 

In the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons, San Jose State got its third win in its fourth game of the year.  In 2005-06 it took seven games to get to three wins. In no other season in the last 10 years, has San Jose State won its third game before it played at least 10 games.
San Jose State played unbeaten Pacific (UOP) on Monday and despite both teams having a less then stellar night from the floor, the Tigers won 74-60 to move to 7-0 on the season.

Pacific hit just 35.9 % while the Spartans were only slightly better at 37%.  The big difference was that UOP attempted 78 shots to San Jose State's 54.

One of the biggest reasons for the shot differential was a 24-to-12 advantage for the Tigers on the offensive glass.  They used it for an 18-to-4 dispartiy in second chance points.

Despite the poor shooting night, San Jose State had four players in double figures led by Ta'Rea Cunnigan (So., G, Winchester, Calif.) who had 14 points.  Chereese Thomas (Jr., G, Dublin, Calif.) equaled her season-high with 13 and reigning WAC Player of the Week Riana Byrd (Fr., F, Richmond, Calif.) and Alexis Hill (Fr., G, Houston, Texas) chipped in 12 apiece.

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 Thunderbirds (2-4) hosted New Mexico State on Saturday falling 70-68 to the Aggies.  They will play at Utah Valley University, a team the Spartans beat 81-72 in November, before traveling the San Jose.

Despite their record, the Thunderbirds are outscoring their opponents, shooting a better percentage from the field and from behind the 3-point line.  However, they have attempted 23 fewer free throws and have made 31 fewer as well.  On the boards they are a +9.3 per game.

SSU is led by sophomore guard Hailey Mandelko is averaging 12.5 points in 18.8 minutes per game.  Carli Moreland, a junior forward, is the team's top rebounder (8.0 pg) who also scores at a 9.0 points per game clip.

JR Payne is in her fourth season leading the Thunderbirds women's basketball program.  Entering 2012-13 she had a 29-60 overall record.

This will be the sixth time these two teams have met.  The Spartans lead the series 4-1 having taken the last three in a row.  The last time the teams met was last year in Cedar City, a 70-68 win for San Jose State. SSU's only visit to San Jose came in 2000-01. The Spartans won that game 75-60.