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San Jose State hangs on for 76-72 win over UNLV

The Spartans got their first win over the Rebels since 1996.

NCAA Basketball: UNLV at San Jose State Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose State Spartans snapped a three-game losing skid with a 76-72 win over the UNLV Rebels at the Event Center on Saturday afternoon.

In a back-and-forth first half, the Spartans trailed the Rebels 8-5 at the 15:55 mark. Ryan Welage made it a one-point game with a field goal to the rim. UNLV, however, quickly took the lead back on a Christian Jones fadeaway jumper. SJSU regained a mere lead and then hit their first three-pointer of the game to get ahead.

A couple of missed dunks by the Rebels allowed the Spartans to maintain the lead, but the game was far from over. Three or four players from each team swatted the ball out of each other’s hands, and SJSU stepped up their defense, blocking a potential UNLV scoring play. However, the Rebels continued to hold the lead with 3:42 left in the half.

The Spartans didn’t score from the field in three-plus minutes. The woes piled for the Spartans at an alarming rate as they fizzled in the last few minutes of the half, turning over several balls. The Rebels carried a 36-27 lead to the locker room at halftime.

The Spartans’ offense began to heat up in the second half. Isaiah Nichols hit a much-needed three, cutting the Rebels’ double-digit lead to five at 14:15. The Spartans erased a 13-point deficit as Welage tied the score 50-50 with a successful free throw. Shortly after, Clarke’s one-handed layup helped SJSU to a 52-51 lead at 10:01.

While the Rebels’ offense dwindled, the Spartans played better defensively. SJSU had their largest lead of the game, 56-51 over UNLV at 7:12. Less than five minutes later, Welage’s three-pointer put his team ahead 66-63.

In this even matchup, second chance points were the key differential when examining the final box score. The Spartans limited the Rebels to eight second chance points with 2:15 remaining.

Nichols’ clutch shot from beyond the arc helped the Spartans maintain a five-point lead over the Rebels with 49.3 seconds remaining.
The Rebels threatened to make a comeback as Jovan Mooring connected on a deep jumper to pull his team within two with 21 seconds remaining. But the Spartans snapped a three-game losing skid with a 76-72 win at home

With the win, the Spartans recorded a 10-win season for the first time since 2010-11.

The Spartans head to The Pit where they will face the New Mexico Lobos ( ) next Saturday. Tip-off begins at 4:00 pm MST on ROOT Sports and KLIV 1590 AM.