Spartans' rally comes up short

San Jose State falls to Montana State for the second time this season.

The San Jose State Spartans rallied from a 12-point deficit at halftime to take a lead midway through the second half. This was not enough to win, as the Spartans ended up losing 91-83 to the visiting Montana State Bobcats.

Princeton Onwas scored the first basket of the game with a layup for San Jose State, but Montana State went on a 9-0 run to go up 9-2. SJSU went on a run of their own to go up 16-14 with 11:31 left in the first half. However, turnovers and defensive breakdowns allowed Montana State to take a lead and pile on it as well. Three San Jose State passes flew out of bounds during the first half, and Montana State scored after each of those bad passes.

Both teams exchanged baskets in the first minute of the second half. San Jose State, however, would chip away at Montana State’s lead as the Bobcats began missing shots and got into foul trouble. Midway through the second half, Isaac Thornton made two steals that would lead to Spartan baskets for a tie and then a lead. Thornton stole the ball from Montana State’s Tyler Hall and passed to Cody Schwartz, who would hit a game-tying three.

Later, Thornton stole an inbounds pass and made a breakaway dunk to tie the game at 64. Only with 4:26 left in regulation did Montana State take a lead again, off a three-pointer by Sarp Gobeloglu that put the Bobcats up 76-74.

As time ran out, the San Jose State offense could not keep up with the lackluster defense. Missed field goals and free throws turned a manageable 84-81 deficit with 1:31 remaining into a 91-83 deficit about a minute later.

“We didn’t execute. We didn’t have the poise we needed to have at that point where we took the lead,” commented San Jose State coach Dave Wojcik after the game.

He added that the team needed to be more patient offensively once regaining the lead. With the 66-64 lead, San Jose State missed on four chances to pile on the lead, with two of the possessions coming from Montana State turnovers.

Montana State out-rebounded San Jose State 40-31 and shot 49.2% from the field, in contrast to San Jose State’s field goal percentage of 44.6%.

“We did not defend. We did not get the stops we needed to do, and we didn’t rebound the basketball,” said Wojcik.

“Defense wins games. If we fix our little mistakes, maybe we’re up by seven,” remarked Princeton Onwas, who had 13 points and 7 rebounds.

Cody Schwartz, who led the team in scoring with 16 points, said that nothing in Montana State’s offense surprised his team.

“There were stretches where we did play well on the defensive side, and that’s why we got back into the game, and there were stretches where we didn’t, and that’s why they won,” remarked the freshman forward.

San Jose State has two out-of-conference games remaining: at Seattle on Dec. 20, followed by a home game on Dec. 22 against NCCAA Life Pacific. Mountain West Conference play begins on Dec. 30 at home against Utah State.

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