Wyoming was challenged well by a scrappy Spartan home team in a tight overtime game, which saw the Cowboys prevail 90-86.
Of course, Wyoming was the clear favorite, especially coming off great wins against the best that the MWC has to offer in Nevada & Boise, but the San Jose State boys are tough, really.
Even with the winless MWC-state of the Spartans, they know they can absolutely compete in spunk and spirit. If you take a chance to catch a San Jose State game, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched vs. just looking at the Spartan’s win-loss record.
But all said, SJSU just can’t break through, let alone sustain enough athleticism and competitiveness to eventually have a respectable record.
The Spartans just have dreaded, innate weaknesses that won’t go away – turnovers and transition defense are a couple of glaring problems - which alone would have earned a good number of Spartan wins, if these weren’t such issues.
The first 5 minutes started hot for both teams and things stayed fairly even and close until about the 11-minute mark of the half.
The Cowboys pressed and pressured until they hit their stride with a 12-0 run, while the Spartans hit a four-and-a-half-minute scoring drought.
By half’s end, the Cowboys were up 47-33 and at one point had their lead up to 17 points over the Spartans.
For the Spartans, the first half was a story of 13 turnovers in which the Cowboys turned into 15 points.
The second half was more of a knock-down-drag-out fight characterized by 10+ fouls in the first 10 minutes, lots of free-throws and charges, along with some good defense by San Jose that helped turn the tide.
Things were getting more chippy than normal for a Spartan basketball game and if you watched close enough, there were some physical battles going on that spread among both teams.
When the Spartans did hit their offensive spurts, the Cowboys would quickly answer back with transition baskets and hard drives down the lane, but Spartan Ryan Welage had the answer.
Backed by some spirited Spartan defense, Welage drove, spun, pirouetted and shot his way to a career-high 37 points with 23 of his points coming in the second half - which helped to close the gap and take the lead at times for the Spartans.
The Spartans had their best chance to pull a tight game away from the Cowboys in the last two-minutes, but three fatal Spartan turnovers killed their chances that also led to Cowboy points. AND to note, the Spartans were coming into set plays from timeouts!
With 32 seconds left in regulation and coming out of a timeout, Spartan Senior Jalen James had the ball stolen which led to a breakaway Cowboy dunk that put them ahead 77-75. James temporarily redeemed himself with a long drive to the basket to tie and end the second half at 77 apiece.
Things stayed close in the 5-minute overtime until there was 1 minute left, where the Spartans air-balled a shot, got it back and still couldn’t score. A Cowboy blocked shot on the next Spartan possession ended all hopes and the Spartans had their 9th straight loss.
The Spartans visit UNLV on Wednesday, January 31st. The last time SJSU met UNLV, it was another equally tight and competitive game that went into overtime before the Rebels pulled it out.