In their 183rd meeting Tuesday night, San José State (8-10, 1-4 MW) continued their aggressive conference play but lost to rival Fresno State (8-9, 1-3 MW) 85-82 in a torrid back-and-forth exchange at the Save Mart Center.
Leading the way for SJS in a quick-moving first-half, forward Tibet Gorener scorched the Bulldogs with 22 points; keeping the Spartans close after Fresno led most of the half. Gorener finished with a career-high 32 points (12-17 FG, 7-9 3s).
After some clumsy play with four turnovers in four minutes of the first-half, MJ Amey looking to take the reins as the go-to Spartan hit two consecutive 3s five minutes in. Amey had 13 points on the game.
The Spartans hit nine 3s to lead by one in the first-half after Fresno held the lead a majority of the game. SJS hit 17 3s in all.
Fresno also came out scorching shooting 56% to San Jose’s 47%, as both teams kept that percentage pace into the second-half.
An assertive Bulldog offense also found the same backdoor holes that have stymied the Spartans in recent games.
Case in point, Fresno center Enoch Boakye’s six of eight points were backdoor alley oop dunks, while Bulldog guard Donovan Yap penetrated consistently. Boakye and Yap contributed 10 and 13 points, respectively, to close the half.
Gorener’s off-balance three opened the second-half.
14 minutes in on yet another off-balance three from the corner, Gorener seventh made three surpassed his previous career-high of 27 points.
Not to be outdone, SJS’ Trey Anderson also came alive with 14 second-half points finishing with 21 points for the game and was five-of-five on 3s.
With 11 lead exchanges and 1:30 left and both teams tied at 82, a timeout and a breather before the fun continued.
Missed shots and turnovers kept things tied at 82 down to the last four seconds remaining.
Bulldog Isaiah Hill’s dagger three with no time remaining sealed the win on this energetic night of basketball. Hill finished the night with 24 points.
It might’ve been an apropos way to end the game if you’re a Fresno fan considering Fresno was beaten by a buzzer beater by Wyoming Saturday.
Doubly cruel also considering a Wyoming’s buzzer beater in early January clipped the Spartans with no time left, where SJS led a majority of that game.
Each Mountain West game has certainly been a journey with the highs and lows of close wins and more tough losses for San Jose State.
With eight days off before facing the Lobos at home, Tim Miles and company will mentally recharge before another certain physical and emotional battle in the Mountain West gauntlet.