By Sandeep Chandok:
One win is better than none but for San Jose State, the opportunity for another victory will have to wait until next season.
A second-half comeback propelled by a handful of triples brought SJSU within striking distance on Tuesday. It wasn’t enough however, as the Spartans fell 65-60 to Colorado State and are now out of the Mountain West Tournament.
Head coach Jamie Craighead spoke of her team with admiration.
“Obviously we came up short,” Craighead said. “But [I’m] tremendously proud of my team and the effort put forth today.”
Effort was prevalent as Craighead noted — made baskets on the other hand, were not.
A pitiful 33-percent shooting performance subsidized the Spartans’ chances of advancing to the semifinals. Seniors Dezz Ramos and Paris Baird certainly allotted for this, combining for 8-35 from the floor. Baird admitted postgame that SJSU struggled against the Rams’ defense.
“I think it was just being stagnant in offense and their 2-3 [zone],” Baird said. “We don’t get that look a lot from other teams — that hurt us.”
Baird finished the game with nine points and 11 rebounds and Ramos had 19 points on 8-8 free throws, she also committed seven of SJSU’s 10 turnovers.
There was a bright spot for Ramos in the game as she passed Adrian Oliver’s 743-point single-season scoring mark at SJSU and now sits atop the record books with 752.
Despite being a Mountain West all-first team selection, Ramos wasn’t the best player on the court. That title belonged to two Colorado State players: Elin Gustavsson and Ellen Nystrom.
Both Rams recorded double-doubles as Gustavsson put up a monster 26 points and 12 rebounds and Nystrom added 17 and 12 on her end.
Not only did Nystrom get the best of Ramos in the game, but she also edged the Spartan point guard for Mountain West Player of the Year on Monday.
Forward Jasmine Smith had an efficient 12-point seven rebound game on 50 percent shooting for SJSU but missed three consecutive hook shots in the paint in the midst of a Spartan third quarter rally.
“[I think] we just needed to move the ball around,” Baird said. “We depend a lot on Jas and Dezz but we just needed other people to step up.”
SJSU was down 31-21 at the half and trailed by 11 in the third before freshman Taylor Turney and Hallie Gennett drilled back-to-back threes to bring the Spartans within five.
March Madness came into effect in the final frame as SJSU was down one with less than four minutes remaining. Rachol West’s three from NBA range was key to the Spartans’ late surge.
Defense was the achilles heal for SJSU in crunchtime however as it couldn’t prevent the Rams from scoring and didn’t secure a rebound off a Colorado State free throw that would have gave the Spartans an opportunity to tie the game with a three.
“We just couldn’t get over the hump,” Craighead said. “When we needed to score and tie it up, we didn’t.”
For Smith, Ramos, Baird and West — it was their final game in a San Jose State uniform as the four seniors are graduating this semester.
Had SJSU knocked off the No. 1 seeded Rams in the quarterfinals today, it would have been the second time it did so as the No. 8 seed — the last upset came in 2015.