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Spartan Basketball: Trouble at 7,000 feet

Facing the Cowboy’s firepower up in Laramie

NCAA Basketball: San Jose State at Wyoming
San Jose State Spartan, Keith Fisher (5) & Noah Baumann (20) battle Wyoming Cowboy, Alexander Aka Gorski (3) in Laramie, WY Feb 17, 2018
Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Exactly three weeks ago, the Spartans seriously challenged Wyoming back in San Jose, but lost a close game in overtime to the Cowboys. The Cowboys had come to San Jose then, after great wins over Nevada & Boise. It was a fairly chippy match between both basketball clubs, but that was then.


Three weeks later with the Cowboys at home and coming off back-to-back losses, they had some things pent up and were ready to release on the Spartans.

Almost on cue, the Spartans started strong, got overwhelmed, clawed back but came up short in an 89-75 loss on the Cowboy’s home court, where they’ve never won before. It was the Spartan’s 14th straight loss.

First Half Summary:

Coach Prioleau’s base game plan was to keep the Cowboys from the easy, high-percentage shots and by-in-large, the Spartans executed that fairly well even without much center play. The Cowboys only managed five shots at the rim gaining 10 points in close.

San Jose, as expected, was aggressive and played well for most of the half; keeping things close, playing good defense and holding a few leads over the Cowboys. Spartans, Jaycee Hillsman, Keith Fisher and Ryan Welage had 11, 10 and 9 points in the half, respectively.

BUT, Wyoming’s counter to Coach Prioleau’s game plan was just letting the three’s fly, as many teams do against the Spartans when they’re trying to hold strong on the inside. The Cowboys made 11 of 16 three’s and Wyoming didn’t seem to care about the offensive boards or that San Jose was focusing on protecting the paint.

With about eight minutes left in the half, things began to turn for the worst once the Cowboys found a mid-range game, blocked a shot off Spartan, Noah Baumann, and the Spartans didn’t get back on defense off Baumann’s blocked shot. It all sparked a 16-2 Cowboy run and a 45-37 halftime lead over the Spartans.

Second Half Summary:

In the first five minutes, the Spartans managed three points.

At the same time, the Cowboys pulled out to a 19-point lead by overwhelming the Spartans with ball movement and second chance put-backs.

The Cowboy game plan seem to now double-counter the Spartan game plan by attacking with more mid-range shots and the inside game; seemingly holding back on their 3-point barrage in the second half.

The Spartans mounted a couple of short runs to pull as close as 9 points, but the Cowboys counterpunch kept them at bay.

Spartans Keith Fisher, Jaycee Hillsman, Ryan Welage and Jaylen James each held their own ending with 26, 15, 19 and 10 points, respectively.

Other key Spartan notes:

  • 15 turnovers turned into 28 Cowboy points
  • Freshman Keith Fisher’s 26 points was his season high along with 10 rebounds. Fisher continues his strong play and to position himself as a key component for the team’s future
  • Ryan Welage’s 19 points places him 7th on the all-time Spartan scoring list with 1,178 points
  • The Spartan centers were limited, as then was the inside game protection plan: Oumar Barry played only 9 minutes, Astin Chastain DNP
  • Not much Spartan bench activity or contribution
  • The Spartans couldn’t stop Cowboy, Hayden Dalton, who redeemed himself with 22 points vs. the 2 points he had back in San Jose. Six other Cowboys had double digit scoring days

The Spartans visit the Nevada Wolf Pack next, who are tops in the MW and currently ranked 24th in the country.