By Ryan Vermont
In a matchup between schools separated by just eight miles, San Jose State beat neighboring Santa Clara 55-40 in a low-scoring showdown Saturday night. The win extended the Spartans (4-3) win streak to three in a row.
SJSU’s defense again propelled the team to the victory. For the first time since 1999, the Spartans mens team held teams to under 50 points in back to back games.
SCU didn’t make a field goal for over 12 minutes into the second half while the Spartan defense also held Broncos’ (3-6) leading scorer, senior guard Jared Brownridge (20.6ppg), to just 11 points on the night.
“You gotta compete on every possession, I don’t care if it’s on offense or defense. If you have that mentality good things are going to happen to you,” said Spartans’ coach Dave Wojcik.
In the first half, forwards Brandon Clarke and Brandon Mitchell both picked up two early fouls, which had effect on an already size-deprived SJSU rotation.
Spartans coach Dave Wojcik called upon redshirt freshman center Ashtin Chastain who hadn’t seen much game time prior to Saturday, however provided valuable defensive minutes and hitting two free throws against the Broncos.
“He’s a skilled big kid. He’s going to be a really good player for us. He’s really skilled and I’m glad to see him having some success,” Wojcik said.
The Spartans had 10 turnovers in the first half against SCU. They were averaging nine per game over the course of their last three coming into the game.
Nevertheless, SJSU took the lead into the locker room on a last second tip-in by Isaiah Nichols making the score 28-26.
“It got us the lead going into the second half which is big for the guys; give us some momentum going into the second half,” Nichols said.
The Spartans offense began to find its groove in the second half, while the Broncos couldn’t find the bottom of the net. SJSU started the second half on a 14-0 run, which gave itself breathing room from SCU.
“I just told the guys at half time, keep chopping wood, they can’t score with us, make conditioning a factor,” Wojcik said.
SJSU scored seven straight including an explosive alley-oop by Clarke forcing SCU’s coach Herb Sendek to call a timeout. After the timeout, the Broncos still didn’t score until over six and a half minutes into the half on a free throw and by then SJSU pushed its lead to 42-27.
The huge run to open up the second half broke the game open for the Spartans, and the Broncos never could recover. The Broncos had three field goals the entire second half.
“We created a lead and put them on their heels a little bit and we didn’t give it up so it’s a good night for us,” Wojcik said.
SJSU maintained its double-digit lead for the over the course of the second half as it chewed the clock while also getting some key offensive rebounds.
“We had a bit of a lead and so getting to reset the whole shot, that clock takes a whole minute off the clock, so that was really big for us to drain the clock and get the win” said sophomore forward Ryan Welage.
Nichols, as well as Welage each had 12 points leading the way for the Spartans.
The loss for the Broncos marks the fourth team’s consecutive. They will try to get back into the win column next Saturday at home against California State East Bay.
As for the Spartans, the win against the Broncos is the first since 2009 and the first time ever in the Event Center. They will look to keep it going and extend their win streak to four against the University of Montana.
The game will be played Wednesday in Missoula.