The Spartan’s third game of 2018 was their second consecutive blowout of the new year with a 85-49 loss to the Aztecs in San Diego. But it was still worthwhile for a few reasons:
- The Spartans were competitive for about 3⁄4 of the first half and kept it close by following the intended game plan of neutralizing the Aztec guards and limiting outside shots, before...the bottom gave out.
- Ryan Welage became the 15th Spartan to score 1000 points in school history with a tough-earned 8 points
- The entertaining part: the Aztecs ran roughshod in the last few minutes of the first half and continued their track meet in the second half with slashing, explosive play that simply overpowered the Spartans.
FIRST HALF SUMMARY:
If the game ended at 10 1/2 minutes, the Spartans win. They played well-enough in that timespan with quick pace and unified intensity to literally play against any D1 team, but that only last so long against a more talented opponent, of course.
6’6” Spartan guard, Jaycee Hillmans, was an energetic force and had 10 points for the game. He was an early difference-maker enhancing the team size and length on the floor.
6’8” Spartan Freshman forward, Keith Fisher, led the first half scoring with 6 points and 14 points overall as the game high-scorer for San Jose.
Turnovers! The Spartans kept another 20+ turnover pace with 11 in the half, but luckily, the Aztecs were mostly missing their shots off the Spartan giveaways.
With about 4 minutes remaining in the half, the Spartans went into a scoring drought. Though they continued to crash the offensive boards with some success, their inability to score in the paint and close-in was crushing.
On top of all that, the Spartans were always caught off guard with the Aztec speed on transitions and before they knew it, they were behind 9 points at the half.
The SECOND HALF:
The Spartan offense remained out-of-sync against the Aztec pressure. It helped keep the Spartans off-balance with too many missed lob passes and layups, shot clock violations and just constantly being behind the Aztec offensive transitions.
Even after Coach Prioleau’s different lineup attempts, defensive schemes - the Aztecs still commanded a 9-0 run in the first few minutes that was basically the beginning of the end for the Spartans.
By the middle of the half, the game was well out-of-hand. The Spartans had managed only 4 points by that time.
With more than 7 minutes remaining, the Aztecs began to “slow things down” and employed their bench and still ended the game on an 18-2 run.
Spartan Junior, Ryan Welage, was the bittersweet story of the night - becoming the 15th Spartan to score 1000 points in the program’s 100+ year history. Congrats!
Overall, the Aztecs were just too explosive for the Spartans.
If you look at the Spartan’s remaining schedule and if things don’t change well-enough - at the least, getting more offensive output from more players - we can expect similar outcomes for the blue & gold.