San Jose State basketball opens Mountain West play with a clank

san_jose_stateClank!

Get used to that noise. It’s a season in which the San Jose State men’s basketball team is far behind the curve and still looked at as building toward mediocrity in the Mountain West. And the bunch is going to spend every waking moment of it, apparently, launching 3-pointers.

And, in the case of Wednesday night’s opener against Nevada, missing most of them.

Whiff!

The Spartans shot just 34 percent for the game against Nevada in a 62-50 loss Wednesday in which they squandered a one-point halftime lead against one of two other bottom feeders in the conference (the other one being Air Force.) That lead, at 26-25, was not the last one, either. The Spartans actually got up by four in the second half before they went cold from the field and the Wolf Pack found their stroke.

Nevada went on an 18-3 run for a good six-minute span in the second half to not only erase the deficit, but put the game away. San Jose State’s shooting never improved, and the Spartans never found any kind of groove from any range. They were 5 for 20 from 3-point range in the game — not bad, but not good — but that small win is immediately negated by the fact that one player hit four of them.

Devante Wilson was the only player to really have a good game. He shot well from the field (4-7 from 3-point range, 6-6 on free throws) to lead the team with 18 points. D.J. Brown continues to show his potential as a pass-first point guard by getting five assists (to go with five points).

But the problems were glaring on the offensive side of the ball. Chris Cunningham was the only other player in double figures with 10 points, but needed needed 11 shots and was well under 50 percent shooting for the game to get there. For the teams only real post presence, he has to be better if he’s going to take that many shots.

Bonk! Rattle rattle rattle.

Rashad Muhammad, the teams surprise scoring juggernaut of the preseason, was quiet. He had just five points, and missed three 3-pointers; Jalen James, the team’s other big recruit, struggled from the field, making just one of seven shots.

This was a missed opportunity. Nevada (6-8) blew no one away in San Jose, and showed that they have a lot of work to do this season also if they want to even sniff the postseason. At 1 for 12 from 3-point range and 42 percent from the field, there was a lot to like about the Spartans defense considering how it has struggled.

San Jose State is going to go where its shooting takes it this season. That’s not going to be far, but when an opportunity like this is missed, it makes it oh so hard to stay optimistic going forward.

Clank!

Next game: at Utah State, Saturday at 6 p.m.

Sidenote: If you aren’t also checking out Kevin McCarthy’s Spartan Roundball blog, you’re missing out.

SJSU women fall at Nevada to open MWC play

For as hard as the men’s game was to take, the women’s was even harder.

San Jose State (6-6, 0-1) laid an egg on the road in Reno, once again allowing a team to hit the century mark in a 101-74 loss to the Wolf Pack on Wednesday. Much like the men, the problem isn’t hard to find – the Spartans shot just 32 percent from the field, and no one was better than 50 percent from the field for the game.

Nevada got 22 points from Danika Sharpe in the first half. The Spartans led for a total of 47 seconds before the Wolf Pack tied it up, then surged ahead. It got so bad the end of the bench was in the game in the second half.

Ta’Rea Cunnigan had 17 points, mostly by getting to the free throw line (10 for 13 on free throws). Three others — Classye James (11), Riana Byrd (10) and Jasmine Smith (13) — were in double figures. The Spartans, though, shot just 15.4 percent (2 for 13) from 3-point range in the first half and subsequently got buried by a 23 point deficit at halftime.

The Spartans were outrebounded 66-46. Despite nine blocks as a team for San Jose State, Nevada was 43 percent from the field for the game.

You have to feel for this team. Coach Jamie Craighead’s offense is a taxing one to run, and being shorthanded is only exacerbating the situation on defense. Only one player Wednesday night had less than 20 minutes on the court, and she was only a minute short of that mark. If the Spartans had a fuller bench right now, they might not have to barely win games by scoring 95-100 points.That’s just not going to happen every time they take the court.

They have a lot of talent, but with the personnel so thin at this point, it’s going to make the mere act of competing difficult at best.

Next game: vs. Utah State, 2 p.m. Saturday

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San Jose State men’s hoops win thriller over UC Davis in 3OT; women roll over Ga. State

It took an extra three periods, 15 minutes and a lot of work, including more than a few come backs, but the San Jose State men’s basketball was able to fend off a strong challenge from UC Davis for its second straight win and fourth this season, 89-85, on Wednesday night.

This piggybacked off the women’s basketball team snapping its four-game losing streak by outshooting Georgia State, 95-81.

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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: Fales wins lots of awards, sees draft stock go up

san_jose_stateDavid Fales is starting to get a lot of attention.

The senior quarterback is winning all the awards this week. The list seems to go to 11 so far. Such are the accolades for knocking off everyone’s favorite — and most overrated — BCS buster in Fresno State.

On top of that, Charles Davis of NFL.com sees the senior quarterback zipping up draft boards also.

In other San Jose State football news …

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Spartan Notes: San Jose State men’s hoops wins second straight

Chris Cunningham recorded his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and the San Jose State men’s basketball team won its home opener and second straight game going away, 81-59, over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.

The Spartans led 28-6 to open the game after Devante Wilson hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and really the team never looked back. Wilson finished with 16 points, and Rashad Muhammad and D.J. Brown each added 17 off the bench.

It’s the first 20-or-more-point win for the Spartans since they beat UC Davis in 2011 79-59.

The team is starting to figure this out earlier than expected, although they are still shooting poorly (just 37.7 percent in Saturday’s win.) It helped that the Titans shot a season low 37 percent. The Spartans also hit 11 of 28 3-pointers on Saturday, making 25 from beyond the arc in their two wins this season.

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Spartan Notes: The SJSU men’s hoops team gets into win column

san_jose_stateSan Jose State is going to do certain things that are just expected. The custom of a rebuilding season is that a team isn’t going to move the ball well, won’t shoot well, will be caught with their pants down on defense, and will lose. A lot. And it is the new coach’s job to make sure the young team learns from all of this so they get better next year.

Fans got a reprieve from the standard operating procedures of Dave Wojcik’s total rebuild, because few of those customary things actually happened Wednesday.

The Spartans (1-4) got their first win after being left for dead, as per protocol this season, trailing by 10 at halftime Wednesday against Pepperdine. They opened on a 21-10 run to open the second half, outscored the Waves by 16 points in the half to pick up their first win, on the road no less, 83-77 on Wednesday.

They shot a little better overall from the field and certain from 3-point range, played strong defense in the second half, grabbed rebounds and moved the ball some. And it all equaled a win over a decent West Coast Conference squad that entered the game undefeated (3-0).

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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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