Fullerton, Calif. - Trailing 60-59 with 7.8 seconds to play, San Jose State women's basketball had a chance to win its game against the Cal State Fullerton Titans, but a last second effort came a fraction of a second late and sent the Spartans (3-8) to defeat.
Down 60-56 with 34 seconds to go, Chereese Thomas hit a clutch 3-pointer to bring the Spartans to within one. On the ensuing possession the Titans missed a layup but pulled down their 31st offensive rebound and forced the San Jose State's Jayzyl Tauala to foul and stop the clock.
"We fouled the right player," said head coach Tim La Kose. "She missed the free throw and (after a scramble for the rebound), Riana (Byrd) dove on the loose ball to give us the last possession."
Chereese Thomas, who would finish with seven points and three assists) took the inbounds pass and drove up the right sideline. She passed to Ta'Rea Cunnigan who drove to the hoop and released the ball a fraction of a second after the final buzzer went off. The shot went in, but didn't count.
"We put ourselves in a position to win," said La Kose. "I'm happy about that. We are improving and next time, hopefully, we come out on the better end of things."
San Jose State out played the Titans (3-8) for the majority of the contest. They built a 12-point first half lead, 22-10 with 7:53 to play, but saw Cal State Fullerton finish the half on a 17-to-2 run and take a 27-24 advantage into the locker room.
"We committed too may fouls down the stretch and let them back into the game," said La Kose of the Titans run. Cal State Fullerton hit 6-of-7 free throws in the final 4:21.
Ta'Rea Cunnigan, who had four points at the half and finished with a game-high 18, drove to the basket throughout the second half. She went to the line 10 times, sinking nine. In addition to her scoring, she had three blocks, three assists and two steals.
In the second half, the Spartans cut the Cal State Fullerton advantage to one point, five times before taking the lead 52-51 with 5:21 to play. The Titans battled back and built their lead back up to four points before Thomas hit her they with just over 30 seconds to play.
Byrd finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Emily Schill had eight points and six boards and Tauala added six.
The Spartans out shot Fullerton 38-to-28 percent, but were dominated on the offensive glass, 31-to-16. The Titans didn't have a huge advantage on second chance points, 19-to-12, but limited the Spartans possession. San Jose State took 58 shots to Cal State Fullerton's 75.
The Spartans next action will be in Western Athletic Conference play. They open the 2012-13 WAC season hosting Texas State on Saturday, December 29 and UTSA on the 31st in The Event Center. Tipoffs are scheduled for 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., respectively.
San Jose State vs Cal State Fullerton
12/22/12 3:00 pm at Titan Gym (Fullerton, CA)
At Titan Gym (Fullerton, CA)
CAL STATE FULLERTON 60, SAN JOSE STATE 59
SAN JOSE STATE (3-8)
Cunnigan, Ta'Rea 4-11 9-11 18; Byrd, Riana 5-16 2-2 12; Schill, Emily 4-9
0-0 8; Thomas, Chereese 3-8 0-0 7; Tauala, Jayzyl 2-3 1-2 6; James, Classye
2-6 0-0 4; DeBoise, Jamiyla 2-3 0-0 4; Hill, Alexis 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 22-58
CAL STATE FULLERTON (3-8)
Bushong, Lauren 5-9 5-5 15; Miles, Chante 5-17 0-0 13; Olivier, Mya 4-9 4-5
13; Thomas, Alex 3-12 0-1 7; Barfield, Brianna 1-11 3-4 5; Williams, Natalie
2-4 0-0 4; Park, Annie 1-2 0-0 3; Iwuoha, Kathleen 0-5 0-0 0; King, Hailey
0-1 0-0 0; Butler, Tailer 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 21-75 12-15 60.
San Jose State................ 24 35 - 59
Cal State Fullerton........... 27 33 - 60
3-point goals--San Jose State 3-11 (Thomas, Chereese 1-3; Tauala, Jayzyl
1-2; Cunnigan, Ta'Rea 1-3; James, Classye 0-2; Hill, Alexis 0-1), Cal State
Fullerton 6-29 (Miles, Chante 3-8; Thomas, Alex 1-6; Park, Annie 1-2;
Olivier, Mya 1-5; Butler, Tailer 0-4; Barfield, Brianna 0-4). Fouled
out--San Jose State-None, Cal State Fullerton-None. Rebounds--San Jose State
40 (Byrd, Riana 12), Cal State Fullerton 53 (Olivier, Mya 8; Thomas, Alex
8). Assists--San Jose State 11 (Thomas, Chereese 3; James, Classye 3;
Cunnigan, Ta'Rea 3), Cal State Fullerton 16 (Miles, Chante 4; Iwuoha,
Kathleen 4). Total fouls--San Jose State 16, Cal State Fullerton 14.
Technical fouls--San Jose State-None, Cal State Fullerton-None. A-345xxx