By Sandeep Chandok:
The SJSU men’s basketball team fought, shot but unfortunately lost, 76-71 to Colorado State and now hold an 0-2 record in the Mountain West.
After falling into a quick 13-0 hole, the Spartans rallied back with a 20-2 run and the game remained close from then on.
The Spartans were down three with seven seconds remaining and had possession of the ball when head coach Dave Wojcik called a timeout and drew up a play to potentially tie the game. Upon inbounds, the ball went to sophomore forward Ryan Welage who had a catch-and-shoot three-point attempt from the left wing which bounced off the back rim and rebounded by a Rams player.
Welage finished with just seven points including 1-4 shooting from behind the arc.
“I thought Welly (Welage) could get the shot off, being 6’9”, a little bit better than E.J.,” Wojcik said. “Welly had a good look at it…maybe it should’ve been E.J. because he just hit one.”
Prior to the Spartan timeout, sophomore guard E.J. Boyce had been 4-7 on threes and had recently made a clutch triple to bring the Spartans within one. All 12 of Boyce’s points came from his four made threes.
Sophomore-standout Brandon Clarke continued his dominant play with a 24p/9r/3blk effort on 10-12 shooting from the floor.
Clarke’s first field goal attempt didn’t come until five minutes into the game to which Clarke himself said the team settled for too many shots from distance.
“I just felt like we came out shooting lots of threes,” Clarke said. “Establishing a post presence is good to start games off.”
Not only did the Spartans come out shooting a lot of threes, but they jacked up 26 from beyond the arc throughout the game. This wouldn’t have been a problem had they made more than nine.
Despite making five more threes than the Rams, the Spartans lacked an aggressive mindset as they only shot eight free-throws as a team compared to 24 for Colorado State.
According to Wojcik, however, the real difference in the game was defense.
“We didn’t defend the way we were capable of defending,” Wojcik said. “We didn’t get stops when we needed to get stops down the stretch and conversely, they came away with the win.”
Wojcik also emphasized that no matter how good a team’s bigs are, it cannot win without great guard play, as was evident by the 51 points from Colorado State’s trio of guards in Prentiss Nixon and J.D. Paige (18p each) and Gian Clavell (15p).
SJSU’s next game is Saturday at 2 PM in The Event Center against conference rival Fresno State.