It was a battle of the Mountain West bottom-dwellers and a mutually entertaining, low-scoring first-half before the Cowboys (5-14, 1-5 MW) handled the Spartans (3-15, 0-6 MW) well-enough for a convincing 59-46 win in Laramie.
Two 11-0 runs
It was an inauspicious start for the Spartans that found them down 11-0 until center Ashtin Chastain’s layup after more than five minutes into the game made it 11-2. The familiar sluggish start was laced with missed shots, air balls and turnovers until SJSU head coach Jean Prioleau found a rotation that started to crash the offensive boards and press the Cowboys. 15 offensive rebounds later, it was the only real bright spot for the Spartans.
The Spartans then went on their own 11-0 first-half run after back-to-back 3s by Spartan guards Isaiah Nichols (9-points) and Noah Bauman (8-points). Spartan forward Michael Steadman chipped in 4-points in the first-half and was the only player in double-digit scoring for San Jose with 10-points and 8 rebounds.
The low-scoring 24-24 half-time score was indicative of two struggling teams. For SJSU, it would be considered a relatively good half of play given there was only 5 first-half turnovers. By game’s end, the Spartans actually won the turnover battle with 16 to Wyoming’s 17. BUT, the Cowboys found 20-points off turnovers, while the Spartans only managed 7-points off turnovers.
A big Cowboy second-half run
Wyoming looked content in the low-scoring affair that often saw Cowboy forward Justin James patiently walking the the ball up the floor to begin each set and the Cowboys shooting as late as possible with the shot clock. In each conference game this season, Wyoming has yet to score 60. James led all scorers with 20 points and 5 assists followed by Hunter Thompson’s 14-points of which 12-points were in the second-half.
After Wyoming’s 21-2 run in the second-half, that was all she wrote for the Spartans, who struggled mightily. Shooting 17-52 (32.7%); 5-21 on three-points (23.8%) and 7-14 from the charity stripe tells a clear story in itself for Prioleau’s Spartans.
Things don’t get any easier for the Spartans, as they head back home to face a surprising Air Force team Saturday.