Spartan Notes: SJSU men’s hoops stun Houston, and MWC bowl projections

935_-mountain_west_conference-primary-2011Saturday morning, I said that what ails San Jose State basketball is an inability to move the ball and pick good shots.

Well, then.

Throw that out at least for one game. San Jose State walked away Saturday with its most impressive win of the season, rallying to beat the University of Houston 72-68 on the road.

The team’s top two recruits were the show: Rashad Muhammad, in continuing with what is becoming tradition for the Spartans, led in scoring with 21 points, including a 3-pointer in the final minutes that gave them the lead for good.

More impressive, though, is Jalen James’ triple-double, just the second in school history and third in Mountain West history. The freshman guard had 12 points, 10 assists and 13 rebounds against the Cougars on Saturday. It is the first in the conference since 2006, and first since 2001 for San Jose State.

This was a big win for the Spartans. They came back from an 11-point deficit with about eight minutes left, playing strong defense and taking advantage of Houston going cold from the field. They had 17 assists, by far the most in a game this season, and shot a season-high 48.9 percent from the field, including a 14 for 26 mark from 3-point range.

D.J. Brown added five assists and four steals in the game, and Devante Wilson had 16 points. The Spartans are off 10 days before facing UC Davis on Dec. 18.

In other San Jose State news …

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Spartan Notes: Bubble bursts in second half of WAC championship on SJSU soccer

san_jose_stateFor 56 minutes and 11 seconds, it looked like the San Jose State men’s soccer team could do the impossible.

Then Seattle scored, and everything came crashing back to Earth. The Spartans, nearly flawless through the first two-and-a-half games of the Western Athletic Conference men’s soccer tournament, couldn’t hold off the conference’s only elite team, falling to Seattle 2-1 thanks to two second half goals by the Redhawks.

San Jose State took an early lead on an unassisted goal by Ben Cowdrill. But Seattle had spent the first half peppering goalkeeper Emmanuel Espinoza, throwing 10 shots his way with two needing to be stopped.

In the 57th minute (at 56:12 to be exact), the dam finally broke for the Spartans. Miguel Gonzalez netted his team leading 13th goal of the season with the help of Ian Hines-Ike. The Redhawks took the lead for good when Hines-Ike assisted Hamza Haddadi on his fifth goal of the game in the 71st minute. All told, of Seattles eight shots in the second half, seven were on net, with Espinoza stopping five others.

The Redhawks earn the WAC’s automatic bid into next week’s NCAA tournament, concluding the regular season 10-8-2, and undefeated (7-0-3) in WAC play. Despite a valiant showing at the conference tournament, San Jose State ends its season with a record of 4-13-4.

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Spartan Notes: Spartans’ soccer scores upset at WAC tournament

san_jose_stateThree wins. That’s it. At least they were all in conference.

It’s been a hard year for the San Jose State men’s soccer team. They didn’t get into the win column until late September, a month and a half into the season. They struggled to score at times, and lost a lot of games by wide margins to mediocre competition (5-0 to Houston Baptist; 6-1 to Cal Poly).

So, they were going to be easy pickings at the WAC tournament at the Air Force Academy on Thursday, right? Wrong. the Spartans, the sixth seed in the tournament, knocked off No. 3 UNLV on penalty kicks, 9-8, after playing to a 2-2 tie through two overtimes.

They got a lift from freshman Uriel Ayala, who score the game-winning goal in a shootout. Frankie Beauchamp had a goal and assist, and team scoring leader Rory Knibbs added his eighth goal for San Jose State.

The Spartans entered the WAC soccer tournament at the Air Force Academy not exactly riding a high. Yes, they were better in their last five games — 2-2-1 — then they had been all season. It helped that the Spartans had beaten UNLV for their first win of the season.

If the Spartans are to run the table at the WAC tournament, it will likely have to include defeating the conference’s top three seeds. They knocked off UNLV Thursday, will have to knock off No. 2 seed Cal State Bakersfield on Friday to reach the final, where top-seeded Seattle will likely be waiting.

They face the Roadrunners at 5 p.m. Friday.

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