Before tip-off, Spartan Ryan Welage was honored as one of the top Sparta scorers in the over 100-year history of the San Jose State program - reaching the 1,000+ point club. He proceeded to manage a hard-earned nine points for the evening, as the Aztec defense played tight on Welage all night.
Before game day, San Diego Aztec senior Malik Pope was held out and didn’t make the trip up to San Jose. Pope was caught up in the FBI’s NCAA corruption case and there’s a good chance Pope won’t complete what’s left of his senior year.
The game wasn’t pretty for both teams. In fact on the most part, it was quite on the atrocious side.
Though San Diego (17-10, 9-7 MW) pulled out the 71-59 win, it wasn’t until the last few minutes of the game where they finally made the quick separation to subdue the Spartans (3-24, 0-16 MW).
First Half Summary:
The Spartans started unceremoniously with a quick turnover and foul. Both teams weren’t finding their scoring touches in any consistent manner as both teams went up to seven minutes without either making a field goal.
The Spartans trying to be aggressive to the basket got five offensive fouls instead; part of their seven turnovers in the half (at least the Spartans stayed under their league-leading turnover average with only 14 for the game, but the Aztecs turned it into 26 points).
Spartan Keith Fisher was limited to 10 minutes because of foul trouble, but still managed 10 points to lead the Spartans in scoring for the half. Fisher continues to consistently play aggressively on both ends of the floor, so much so that his intensity has gotten him close to a few technicals over the course of the last few games. Fisher had a game-high 21 points.
The Aztecs, who characteristically play good defense, could confidently rely on it to keep the Spartans at bay, but it was clearly missing their leading scorer, Malik Pope. The Aztec offense just couldn’t find their legs, which contributed to the ugliness of the first half. Freshman Jalen McDaniels led the Aztecs with 10 first half points.
The few offensive surges that did happen led to only a 30-27 lead for the Aztecs at half’s end. San Diego managed a 10-point lead at one point until a quick Spartan run pulled them to within three points with Spartan Jalen James last second, half-court streak in traffic for a layup closing out the half.
Second Half Summary:
Again, an unceremonious Spartan start.
Only a couple minutes into the second half, the Aztecs tight defense on Ryan Welage forced two turnovers, leading to a 5-0 Aztec run before Prioleau called a time out.
At about four minutes in, the Aztecs pulled out to a 10-point lead and six fouls were already committed by both teams in the half.
The remainder of the half, until the last four minutes, finally saw a good basketball game and good offensive answers from the Spartans, which kept the game relatively close and within reasonable striking distance.
But as has happened in many games where the Spartans have held close, the Aztecs found their offensive push and separation in the last few minutes, while clamping down on the Spartans.
The Aztec’s lead rose to 13 points in the blink-of-an-eye and the Aztecs just slowed the game down for there to take the win. Aztec Max Montana was the scoring anchor for San Diego with 15 points in the half; all off three-pointers.
The Spartans stay in San Jose for their last home game Wednesday, February 28, against the Utah State Aggies.