Monday, December 22, 2008

San Jose State wins 82-76

What do San Jose State basketball and Tina Turner have in common?

The fact that they never, ever do anything nice and easy. Whether it be hoops at Walt McPherson Court or singing "Proud Mary" -- 'easy does it' is a term with no use.

For the second game in a row, the Spartans had the opportunity to break a game wide open...but didn't. To USF's credit, the Dons kept fighting and made it a very close game, one decided in the last minute or so, finally ending with an 82-76 score and SJSU with another victory.

Adrian Oliver was again a force tonight, scoring 31 points in 36 minutes of play. C.J. Webster was a beast inside totaling 20 points and garnering 8 boards. Tim Pierce added 16.

USF Coach Rex Walters needs another recruiting class or two in order to have his squad challenge for the top of the West Coast Conference as his young-ish squad often presented an offense the equivalent of baseball's Spahn and Sain and pray for rain. Big man Dior Lowhorn finished with 21 points (20 shots) and freshman Kwame Vaughn topped the Dons with 22 on 8-12 from the floor including 3-4 on his threes. Vaughn also grabbed six rebounds. Backcourter Manny Quezada contributed 14 points but didn't seem to score when the game really mattered.

Two technical fouls on Walters with 40 seconds remaining hurt the USF cause. We didn't see what behavior brought on the Ts but Walters was reacting to a situation where one of his players penetrated into the key and ended up being called for traveling after a SJSU player got his hand on the ball. In hindsight, we thought it should have been a jump ball but we believe San Jose State had the possession arrow at the time.

But it shouldn't have come to such a tight game. San Jose State led 51-37 at the 14:56 mark after an early Don spurt was countered. It was 55-39 with 14:34 remaining after a Webster jumper. 9:54 was left after a Deshawn Wright jumper made it 59-44. But Spartan turnovers and missed shots, combined with Don steals and a burst of hot USF shooting drew the game closer. A Vaughn layup cut the lead to three -- 73-70 -- with 1:26 on the clock.

San Jose State shot 49% for the game but just 4-17 from long range. The number of free throws attempted was excellent (32) but nailing the charity tosses tailed off from Saturday as the Spartans made 20 but missed 12.

It was a game SJSU led from the beginning. A Webster layup, an Oliver 12-foot jumper and Pierce's steal and resulting slam put San Jose State up 6-0 with 17:39 left in the initial half. The Spartans had leads from seven to 11 points in the second ten minutes of the first 20 and led 40-30 at the half. At that point, Webster had 13 points, Adrian Oliver 11 and Justin Graham five assists. The offensive play was crisp and the player spacing solid. Lowhorn led San Francisco with 15 points but took 14 shots to reach that total and nabbed but one rebound.

NOTES -- Credit Justin Graham for taking two charges ... USF needs another 'big' as it was two Spartans against a lone Don in the paint most of the night ... The freshman Vaughn was obviously impressive but another frosh, Angelo Caloiaro out of Mitty High, displayed a calmness and a display of fundamental play unlike most first-year players ... We just about fell out of our seat tonight after the PA announcer told the crowd that the Mercury News is a proud sponsor of SJSU athletics. Don't get us started, again.

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