San Jose State (7-8, 0-2 MW) saw their hope towards a relatively successful season in full-effect in the first-half against Boise State (10-4, 1-0 MW) with stellar play from MJ Amey Jr.
That is until the Spartans came down to earth in a 78-69 loss to the Broncos on SJS’ home floor.
Amey’s 25-point first-half attack (9-11 FG, 5-7 on 3s) was also led by his active defense with five rebounds and three steals. Amey finished with 30 points for the game. The Spartan defense, primarily in man-to-man for the half, also saw six steals on the Broncos.
But Boise’s physicality was San Jose’s kryptonite in the end.
“Their inside play definitely took a toll on us,” said SJS forward Trey Anderson.
Amey added on the loss, “We have to be more physical on the inside, get more stops and limit second-chance points and fouls.”
The Spartans had no answer for the Bronco’s O’mar Stanley. Along with Tyson Degenhart, Stanley’s strong play ate away SJS from the inside.
“We were playing great basketball there,” said head coach Tim Miles on the fast start. “But Boise just chipped, chipped, chipped away.”
Led by seven
The Spartans started flat in the second-half. As SJS’ seven-point first-half lead slowly eroded, Boise was getting stronger.
Or it could have been San Jose getting worn down by Boise’s balance, patience and depth.
As one could expect, Amey cooled off, but Alvaro Cardenas, Trey Anderson and Adrame Diongue broke into the scoring with nine, 13, and 10-points, respectively.
“We wanted to keep MJ cooking, but often that breaks down and that person needs to play-make for others,” said Miles. “Also, outside of MJ, we were two-for-17 in three-point shooting and that’s really disappointing.”
The Spartans tried to counter, as the Broncos began to press halfway into the second-half after San Jose State reached their biggest lead of the game at 57-48.
With five minutes remaining, Boise State was within a point and a minute later, the score was tied.
Miles’ chess game with missing pieces
With San Jose going into a three-minute scoring drought and Boise on an 11-0 run, the air was let out of event center.
Miles’ last ditch effort to try and negate Boise’s inside game with 6’10” sophomore William Humer was near-fruitless on Stanley.
“What do we depend on defensively?” said Miles after questionable perimeter defense at Wyoming and now questionable inside defense. “That’s the most frustrating thing for me as a coach.”
With all else equal, size typically wins.
“You’d hope that if we’re smaller, we’d be able to affect the game better with quickness and some drives,” said Miles. “Tonight we didn’t do that outside of MJ.”
Next Tuesday night in San Jose, the Spartans meet the cream-of-the-crop in San Diego State, who certainly have all the pieces.