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Valiant San Jose State comes back to earth at Boise

Down 14, Spartans storm back but fall after last second 3 pointer

NCAA Basketball: San Jose State at Boise State
SJS guards Omari Moore & Alvaro Cardenas defend agains Boise State’s Max Rice, Boise, Idaho, January 3, 2023
Brian Losness

Almost exactly one year ago Mountain West champion Boise State, then 8-1, squeaked by then 1-6 San Jose State 87-86.

One year later, another highly spirited game by the Spartans (11-5, 2-1 MW) saw a heartbreak 67-64 loss to the Broncos (11-4, 1-1 MW) Tuesday night at Boise.

Flirting with an almost first win over Boise State was another close one but no cigar.

“They just made one more play than we did was the difference,” said SJS head coach Tim Miles. “We get a couple inside shots that we missed and we win.”

“It was just a smidge here and a smidge there.”

But it was clear, San Jose State will be competitive in the Mountain West this year on Miles’ long proven road to construction.

The excitement builds

With the same starting lineup for the last six games in guards Alvaro Cardenas and Omari Moore, forwards Sage Tolbert and Trey Anderson and center Ibrahima Diallo, the Spartans found the entire performance spectrum.

The Spartans started fast with pick and rolls and give and gos that found Diallo with two big dunks to set the tone inside all evening against the Broncos. Diallo’s 12 points (6 of 7) were his season high to go along with his five rebounds and five blocks.

While screen & rolls were good for the Spartans first three of five baskets, 24 points in the paint belied the fact that SJS was only 1-10 from the perimeter in the first-half.

The Broncos’ transition game kept the Spartans at bay and a 41-29 half-time lead at Extra Mile Arena in front of 8,113 looked safe...but not with these Spartans.

The buzz continues to build

As San Jose State fell 14 points behind in the second half, the Spartans finally battened down the hatches.

In limiting turnovers and getting perimeter shots, SJS was able to also contend shots and force the issue much better on the Broncos - something, it seemed everyone was waiting to happen, as the Spartans were making their run.

Cardenas’ three at 18:30 in the second half and Goreners’ three at 13:38 prompted a 7-0 and 8-0 run that chopped the Bronco lead to six points, then two points. Cardenas had 12 points in the game.

All eyes on Omari Moore

As the game-high scorer with 22 points, Boise State knew Moore would come alive to make his imprint.

And Moore’s statement tomahawk dunk with 3:30 left was ESPN-highlight-worthy to say the least. As it quieted the crowd, Moore’s next immediate act was a three-pointer that finally found the Spartans’ first lead of the game at 62-61.

But tied at 64 with 22 seconds left, Boise’s Marcus Shaver hit a crossover three on Moore with 2.4 seconds left.

The Spartans still had a chance but Gorener’s three attempt missed.

“The lesson is this - we can compete with anyone in this league,” said Miles. “But we can’t be playing from behind on the road all the time.”

“We had to play perfect to win and we just didn’t play perfect enough and that’s a lot to ask from an emerging team.”