18 games into season one of Tim Miles’ head coaching tenure; his Spartans (7-11, 0-6 MW) played an evenly inconsistent game in a 63-53 loss against Air Force (10-8, 3-4 MW).
“Air Force is a product of a good design and system,” Miles said. “The fact that they out hustled us to some loose balls and especially offensive rebounding was a difficult thing for me to swallow.”
The Falcons looked of a team with professional demeanor under head coach Joe Scott and the Spartans a scrappy junk yard dog. The former actually being more entertaining and endearing.
A first half of equals
The first half was evenly matched as the Spartans had the edge on a few matchups that looked exploitable.
Miles kept his starting five of three guards Trey Smith, Omari Moore and Alvaro Cardenas and two forwards Trey Anderson and Tibet Gorener together until Trey Anderson caught two fouls in five minutes.
In came Shon Robinson at that point. Robinson ramped up to be a force in the middle garnering seven points, 10 rebounds and five emphatic blocks. Robinson was the only Spartan on the plus side of the +/-.
Moore’s play would be the center piece of the Spartans’ offense. In taking what the defense gives you, Moore would find 20 points mostly on slashing aggressive drives inside.
“Air Force’s matchup zone can be whatever it wants to be and they’ve done a good job taking away our 3s,” said Miles. “We couldn’t get loose to get quality looks and usually that’s a product of penetrating the zone and making the next pass and we didn’t do much of that. They took away that sharing element away from our offense.”
Spartans eventually found some palpable energy
But at the start of the second half, as if almost seemingly on cue, the Spartans came out flat and disjointed missing three close up shots at the rim and getting three shots blocked.
“We were tentative and soft with the ball,” said Miles. “You look at those turnovers in the first half and early in the second half - those were bad plays, just not strong plays and probably over dribbling plays and you can’t have that.”
Miles emphasized, “You have to share the ball and I thought we were just iffy in our shot selection.”
About five minutes into the second half entered MJ Amey and Josh O’Garo with an energy boost.
Along with Cardenas normal scrappy play, Amey’s only two points in 13 minutes of play was born of two offensive rebounds, while O’Garo’s immediate six points was highlighted by a two-handed breakaway dunk.
When a loose ball scrum also favored the Spartans late in the game, another hard Moore drive cut the Falcon lead to three with three minutes left.
But the calm Air Force team answered back with timely threes and forced untimely San Jose State turnovers that would be the Spartans’ undoing.