San Jose State's season ended in imperfect fashion, though it was fitting.
Playing yet another game in which they were in position to win in the final minutes, the Spartans instead fell to Utah State 76-69 in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.
San Jose State was down 53-40 with 15 minutes left but trimmed the deficit to one with less than three minutes remaining.
But as was the case most of the season, San Jose State failed to make key plays down the stretch. It ended up being just another loss in a 6-25 season.
"If we had a tournament of 20-loss teams," San Jose State coach George Nessman said, "I think we could win it."
Overall, the Spartans were a more competitive team in Nessman's first season, but the results were familiar. They were 6-23 in the 2004-05 season.
The difference this season: SJSU lost 14 games by eight points or fewer.
With continued improvement, some of those close losses will turn into victories.
Notes and Quotes:
--San Jose State needs to add some shooters for next season. The Spartans made just 40.9 percent of their shots, finishing the regular season as the worst shooting team in the WAC.
--SJSU was poor from behind the 3-point arc, converting just 30.6 percent of its 3-point attempts.
--A small sign of progress: San Jose State had more than two road wins in a season for the first time since 2001. SJSU this season won at Cal Poly, Long Beach State and Idaho.
THE RECORDS: 6-25 overall, 2-14 WAC, lost to Utah State in quarterfinals of conference tournament
HOW THE SEASON ENDED: San Jose State ended the season on a nine-game losing streak, but played well enough to win more than a few of those games. The Spartans' only two wins in league play came against last-place Idaho.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We played hard, we always came with effort, but we just couldn't make that extra play we needed in the end. It is frustrating knowing that one play determined so many games. It could have been so much better, but we live and we learn and next year we will be better." --
Junior guard Carlton Spencer, in the San Jose Mercury News, on the Spartans' season.
THE GOOD NEWS: San Jose State was more competitive this season under first-year coach George Nessman, even though its record wasn't better.
Nessman is making recruiting inroads in northern California, and it's those kind of connections that will eventually help the Spartans get over the hump.
KEY RETURNEES: Guard Carlton Spencer had a solid first season after transferring from junior college, averaging 9.8 points per game and starting all but one game.
Freshman guard Devonte Thomas didn't average quite 10 minutes per game, but he was the first important recruit for Nessman last season and will play a bigger role next season.
--G Alex Elam, a senior, wasn't able to finish his career on the court. He suffered a broken left hand early in the first half of the WAC quarterfinal against Utah State, finishing with four points in seven minutes. Elam was the team's second-leading scorer with 12.8 points per game this season.
--F Demetrius Brown tied his season-high with 26 points in the season finale against Utah State in the WAC quarterfinals. He made 11 of 16 shots from the field and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.
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