By Luke Johnson
Ryan Welage and Jalen James kept the rain alive in downtown San Jose tonight. The duo drained eight three pointers off 10 attempts for San Jose State in a 92-82 victory against Southern Utah.
The Spartans have won six of their last seven games and hold a 7-4 record heading into competition against the Mountain West Conference.
“Part of it is these guys find me for wide-open looks,” Welage said. “Jalen had four assists and Isaiah [Nichols] had a lot of assists. Those guys were able to find me and give me easy looks, and all I have to do is knock it down.”
James, a junior guard, posted a career-high 23 points and had the hot hand as he led the Spartans in that statistic.
“Jalen has really been giving us a spark off the bench, and once again tonight he gave us a great lift,” said SJSU’s head coach Dave Wojcik. “What I’m more impressed with is [his] fours assists, one turnover [and] three rebounds.”
Welage was one rebound shy of completing his second double-double of the season, but the sophomore forward still contributed 22 points and shot 5-6 from behind the arc. He is averaging 13.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game this season.
The Spartans had to defend Southern Utah point guard Randy Onwuasor, who is the team’s Russell Westbrook equivalent. He led the team in points (22.4), assists (3.2) and rebounds (6.2) per game heading into tonight’s contest. The redshirt junior finished with 28 points, three assists and one rebound in SJSU’s Event Center.
“He’s a volume guy. He shoots it a lot,” Wojcik said. “He had 28 points off 23 shots. I think that was pretty good defense by our guys.”
Before the season, SJSU was predicted to finish in last place in the Mountain West Conference by a panel of qualified members of the media. But for the first time since 2010-11, the Spartans have finished non-conference play with a winning record.
“Our guys are confident right now,” Wojcik said. “The second season is up. [It’s] 0-0. I’m trying to tell the young guys, ‘You better ratch it up — the intensity — going into conference. Conference games are 10 times the intensity of what these games are.’”
The Spartans’ first test in the MWC will be at the University of Nevada, Reno next week on Dec. 28. The Wolfpack is currently 10-2.