Ivo Basor took a charge on the first possession. Brandon Clarke busted an inbounds pass in the final possession. These were the bookends of a 68-63 win by the San Jose State Spartans over the visiting Boise State Broncos on Saturday that snapped a six-game losing streak.
This game marked the finale for Basor and two other seniors, Princeton Onwas and Frank Rogers, all of whom were honored in a pregame ceremony. Freshman guard Brandon Clarke led in scoring with 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. Onwas and Gary Williams, Jr. each scored 14 points, and Onwas had four rebounds. Rogers scored just four points, but he had eight rebounds, a block, and two steals in addition to a crucial late free throw. Jalen James had 10 rebounds and four assists.
Anthony Drmic led Boise State with 13 points and added five rebounds. Nick Duncan and James Webb III each scored 11, with Duncan grabbing four rebounds and Webb seven. Duncan also made three assists.
Basor, a walk-on center who made his first start of the season, played just five minutes and had one rebound. However, he made an impact play soon after Boise State won the opening tip, by drawing an offensive foul on Webb. The leading scorer for Boise State, Webb would foul out with around six minutes left in the second half. Right after being whistled for that offensive foul, Webb lay on the floor in pain and went to the bench for around two minutes.
As the shot clock approached five seconds, Isaac Thornton hit a three on San Jose State’s first possession. Duncan responded with a three to tie the game. San Jose State led 14-10 after the under-12:00 media timeout, after Williams hit a jumper off a James steal, and Clarke sank a three-pointer. Boise State tied the game at 14 after a reverse layup by Drmic, lost ball out of bounds by Clarke, and a layup by Chandler Hutchison, who cut through a double-team to make the bucket.
Much of the first half had this sort of back-and-forth, as neither team built a lead of more than five points. San Jose State would eventually expand a 32-29 lead to five points, after Rogers went from behind and slapped a jumper attempt by Paris Austin against the backboard, for James to rebound and bring back in transition. Clarke scored on a tip-in off a missed layup by Onwas.
Sloppy ball handling affected both teams, as San Jose State had 12 first-half turnovers, and Boise State had nine. San Jose State missed three opportunities to expand its 34-29 lead in the last minute of the first half, thanks to a moving screen by Rogers and two throwaway passes by James. Hutchison hit two free throws to bring Boise State within 34-31, and Williams missed an off-balance jumper to keep that the halftime score.
In one of just five second-half turnovers for San Jose State, Hutchison poked the ball out of Clarke’s hands and ran it back for a transition layup to put Boise State up 44-40 with 13:57 remaining. Williams responded by completing a three-point play on a foul inside the paint. Later, Williams ran back the ball after it popped out of Duncan’s hands, for a dunk that pulled San Jose State within 46-45. It took around half a minute for Duncan to commit another turnover, this time leading to a Clarke layup that put San Jose State up 47-46 with 11:51 to go. Following a Lonnie Jackson three-ball that put Boise State up 49-47, Williams made yet another three-point play to put San Jose State up 50-49 at the 10:37 mark, a lead that would never go away.
While San Jose State went 4-for-15 beyond the arc, Boise State made just two of 19 three-point attempts. During a 13-2 run that put San Jose State up 60-51 with 6:01 left, Boise State missed four shots from behind the arc. In the last three minutes, Drmic missed two three-pointers when Boise State was down two possessions.
Boise State also missed 11 free throws, compared to San Jose State missing five. Onwas, who entered the game with a 58.9% free throw percentage, made 12 of 14 free throws, including nine of 10 in the last 6:30 in what seemed to be a “hack-a-Shaq” strategy by Boise State. Four of those free throws followed Boise State scores.
San Jose State also kept Boise State at bay by grabbing seven defensive rebounds in the last four minutes and giving up no offensive rebounds during that time frame. Rogers grabbed an important one off a missed layup by Mikey Thompson, with 40 seconds left and San Jose State up 66-63. Rogers made one of two free throws to extend the lead to 67-63. Drmic later missed a three-pointer, and Rogers pursued the ball and denied a second chance opportunity. Fouled with 4.3 seconds left, Onwas made a free throw. Clarke stole the ball on the ensuing inbounds pass to wrap up the win.
Rogers thought highly of the senior leadership.
“[The freshmen] really respected us, went out there, and helped us play,” said Rogers.
“Whatever it takes to get a win, I’ll do,” explained Basor about his unusual presence in the starting five. “I’ll sacrifice my body [and] took a charge.”
“There’s no way I was going to miss those shots to lose this game,” commented Onwas about gaining confidence from his teammates and the attitude for his stellar free-throw shooting.
“Ivo [Basor] set the tone for the game when he took the charge, right off the bat,” added head coach Dave Wojcik.
“We were aggressive today,” added Wojcik about the busted inbounds pass that ended the game. “...That was our mindset: no matter what happens, we’re going to be aggressive.”
“Brandon Clarke gets his hands on a lot of balls...he made one there on that out of bounds play, and Frank [Rogers] picked it up.”
Wojcik also expressed hope for the future.
“This is my first true year with all of our players here who we have recruited,” said Wojcik.
“[In] years three, four, and five, you should be seeing a turn, and it’s turning for us,” remarked Wojcik, who is currently in his third year as head coach. “We gotta continue to recruit good character players.”
San Jose State wraps the regular season 9-21 (4-14 Mountain West), for the highest overall and conference win totals in the Wojcik era. Boise State finishes the regular season 20-11 (11-7 MW). In next week’s Mountain West tournament in Las Vegas, San Jose State has the no. 11 seed, while Boise has the no. 3. San Jose State will face no. 6 seed Colorado State on Wednesday in the first round, while Boise State will have a first-round bye for finishing in the top five.
This win also marks San Jose State’s first win over Boise State since the 2009-10 season and is only the third win in 30 contests all-time dating back to the 1988-89 season. On Jan. 20, San Jose State lost its away game to Boise State 94-69. Prior to becoming head coach at San Jose State, Wojcik was an assistant at Boise State from 2010 to 2013 under current head coach Leon Rice.