Santa Clara, Calif. - Senior guard Sara Plavljanin equaled her career-high with 28 points, including seven 3-pointers, as the San Jose State Spartans picked up their second win of the year 74-53 against the Santa Clara Broncos (6-5) on Saturday night in The Leavey Center.
Plavljanin, who scored 28 points against New Mexico State last season, hit 10-of -14 from the floor tonight. Her seven treys are a career-high and were one shy of Gretchen Seeley's all-time San Jose State single-game record of eight.
"I started off real good and gained confidence as the night went on," Plavljanin said. "My teammates saw that I was feeling it and kept getting me the ball in good places. I was looking to score."
The Zagreb, Croatia native was 4-of-7 from the floor in the first half, with all four buckets coming from behind the arc. In the second half she hit 6-of-7 including 3-of-3 from downtown.
But, Plavljanin wasn't the only Spartan that was shooting well. The team shot a season-high 53.7 percent from the floor. Brittany Johnson went 9-for-12 and extended her double-digit scoring streak to 11 games with 18 points and five rebounds. Ta' Rea Cunnigan added 14 and Brea Matthews chipped in eight in the win.
With Santa Clara leading 3-2 at the 17:34 mark, Johnson hit a jumper to give the Spartans a lead they would never relinquish. Plavljanin would hit her first 3-pointer with 16 minutes to go in the first. Rachel Finnegan got an assists on the score, one of her game-high seven. The duo hooked up again 90 seconds later for a second three and a 12-6 Spartans lead.
San Jose State (2-8) would push the advantage to double-digits and take a 37-22 lead into the locker room at the half. The team held the Broncos to just 25 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes, with Cunnigan focusing on Santa Clara's leading scorer Alyssa Shoji. Shoji had just four points in the first half and finished the game with 10, seven below her season average.
"Ta' Rea had that assignment and I thought she did real well," head coach Tim La Kose said. "We matched up well across the board and everyone played their roll. Rachel (Finnegan) came off the bench and gave us some good minutes, which we needed. Tonight we finished our shots. We got some good looks and finished."
In the second half, the Spartans maintained their double-digit advantage until Johnson picked up her fourth foul with 12:05 to play. With Johnson on the bench, Santa Clara went on a 6-0 run cut the lead to five 47-42 with just over 10 minutes to go.
After a Matthews layup, Plavljanin hit consecutive threes to push the lead back to 10 points at 55-45. San Jose State finished the game on a 19-to-8 run and won going away 74-53.
"This (road win) is a huge step for us," La Kose said. "Each game we are getting better and we're making history, individually and as a team. We came up short a couple of times earlier this season on the road, but this is a progression. We are getting better and learning how to win."
The 21-point victory was the highest by a Spartans women's basketball team since the 2005-06 season. That year they beat Utah State 70-49 in the Event Center. It is also San Jose State's largest road win since the 2003-04 season when the Spartans won at Sacramento State 70-39.
"We did a really nice job of building a lead," La Kose said. "I thought our defense was solid. We didn't give up many easy baskets and came down and got the shots we wanted. I think we probably played some of our best basketball to close this one out.
Santa Clara had four players in double figures led by Lindsay Leo's 12-point, 14-rebound double-double. Meagan Fulps led the Broncos with 14 points. Tyler Woods had 11 and Shoji added 10.
San Jose State returns to action on Monday, December 19 in the Event Center. They host the Air Force Academy Falcons with tipoff scheduled for 7:00 p.m.