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Spartan Basketball: Ataque de Los Lobos

So close, yet so far.

San Jose State Guard, Nai Carlisle, awaits play after a timeout vs. New Mexico State at the San Jose Event Center, February, 3, 2018
San Jose State Guard, Nai Carlisle, awaits play after a timeout.
Vic Aquino - SBNation.com

Ataque de los lobos = Attack of the wolves

This is one that the Spartans shoulda, coulda and woulda won over the New Mexico Lobos at the Event Center Arena in San Jose:

  • Despite committing 25 turnovers, which led to 30 Lobo points
  • Despite being comatose for the first few minutes; only taking three shots and turning the ball over nine times early in the first half
  • Despite the Spartan offense cooling off in the second half
  • Despite the Spartan spark plug of the game, Jaycee Hillsman, fouling out in the last few minutes

With the final score of 71-68, it was an entertaining and heart-breaking game that came down to the final seconds, when it probably shouldn’t have.

The game was also a day-and-night difference for the Spartans from the blowout loss a month ago in New Mexico.

First Half:

The game turned around in the first half for the Spartans when Jaycee Hillsman came off the bench as a one-man force of nature. His steal and dunk implanted his presence, as the Spartans resurrected themselves by going 10 of 11 from the field and only turning over the ball two more times in the half.

Hillsman was 5 of 7 in the half for 13 points and Ryan Welage followed with 10 points in the half.

San Jose State Spartan, Jaycee Hillsman, vs. New Mexico State at the San Jose Event Center, February 3, 2018
San Jose State Spartan, Jaycee Hillsman
Vic Aquino - SBNation.com

The Spartans played the last 10 minutes of the half well and they overcame their 13-point deficit and ended up being three points ahead. With the 39-36 half-time lead, there was a feeling of confidence and hope all-around that a win was within reach.

Second Half:

Things were fairly even in the second half with the difference coming from the Lobos, who seemed to press and pressure when they needed. Unfortunately for the Spartans, it meant another 14 turnovers in the half.

The Lobos confidence never seemed to diminish even as the Spartans kept things close. The Lobos seemed to know and trust that they could ratchet up their speed and quickness at will. It was evident in the final minutes, as they subdued the Spartans, though Spartan, Ryan Welage, had a chance to tie things up in the game’s last three seconds with a near-half court three pointer.

Welage ended with 22 points, leading all scorers, but committed 8 turnovers, and Jaycee Hillsman netted a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

San Jose State Spartan, Ryan Welage (32) scores two of his 22 points vs. New Mexico State at the SJ Event Center, February 3, 2018
San Jose State Spartan, Ryan Welage, with two of his 22 points.
Vic Aquino - SBNation.com

And even though the Spartans dominated the offensive and defensive boards by twice the count over the Lobos - 25 turnovers made it a wash for San Jose.

The Spartans get their second bye of the season and will face-off against the Rams in Colorado, Saturday, February 10th.

San Jose State vs. New Mexico State at the SJ Event Center, February 3, 2018 Vic Aquino - SBNation.com