Down three with just over a minute to go, the San Jose State men’s basketball team forced stops on defense but committed two consecutive turnovers on offense, which turned into a 74-69 home loss to the University of Denver Thursday night.
The Spartans (1-2) opened the first half strong, similarly to the previous game against Portland, as they outscored the Pioneers (1-1) 18-10 with 12:53 left before haltime.
Denver managed to rally back however to take a 38-37 lead at halftime despite 1-for-9 shooting from beyond the arc.
The Spartans regained the lead after a 10-2 run following the break, but a 14-for-21 (66.7 percent) shooting performance for the Pioneers in the second half gave them their first win of the season and fifth straight win against SJSU.
“This game hurts,” head coach Dave Wojcik said. “We didn’t execute on the defensive side of the ball.”
Wojcik said that the Pioneers outrebounded them by 10, 36-26, along with letting them shoot 67 percent from the floor in the second half was the difference in the game.
The Spartans’ scoring attack was led by junior guard Jalen James, who finished with 13 points off the bench, and sophomore Brandon Clarke, who finished with a double-double (13 points and 10 rebounds). Ryan Welage also finished in double figures with 11 points on 3-for-5 shooting from outside.
“Coach wants me to be aggressive off the bench,” James said. “When I’m in the game I’m just thinking of being aggressive to help the team.”
Denver also had three players in double figures as Joe Rosga finished with a game-high 15 points.
SJSU will head into its first road trip beginning Tuesday at No. 17 Saint Mary’s.
“We have got to be road warriors,” Wojcik said. “Especially when you go on the road you really have to defend and you really have to rebound, and that’s going to be our concentration the next five days.”