San Jose State drops conference opener to Fresno State 73-53

Photo credit: @SJSUMBB

By: Ana Kieu

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose State Spartans won two games in a row, but ended 2018 with a loud thud following a three-game losing skid on a Bay Area road trip. Moreover, it was up to SJSU to open up 2019 on a positive note in a rivalry game versus the Fresno State Bulldogs at the Event Center Wednesday evening. Unfortunately, the result was negative to say the least.

Prior to the tipoff, Spartans head coach Jean Prioleau announced his starting lineup of Brae Ivey, Noah Baumann, Craig LeCesne, Michael Steadman and Oumar Barry.

The Spartans won the tip and the game went underway in San Jose. Barry made a layup in the paint to get things started, but Nate Grimes tied the score at two apiece and Noah Blackwell put the Bulldogs up 5-2 with a 3-pointer at the 18:56 mark of the first period. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Fresno State responded to the Spartans’ first bucket of the game with a 9-0 run. But SJSU countered, thanks to Seneca Knight’s 3 at 15:56.

The Spartans were back in business as Baumann followed suit with a 3 of his own and Ivey made a couple of layups on the fastbreak. SJSU cut Fresno State’s lead to six at 12:44. Steadman knocked down two jumpers in the paint to help the Spartans within two just 30 seconds later.

It was a little over 10 minutes when the home crowd realized Fresno State refused to go down without a fight if they haven’t already done so. Blackwell, DeShon Taylor and Sam Bittner poured in the points for the Bulldogs, who led 26-19 with 8:27 left.

Soon, the game turned into a rather feisty exchange of 3s. Both teams hit 3s of their own, beginning with Ivey. New Williams responded. Then, Barry answered. The score was 29-25 Spartans with 6:33 left.

With 3:29 left, Fresno State led 31-25 at the final media timeout of the first. If anything was in favor of the Spartans, Ivey led the home team with seven points.

Still, Fresno State refused to back down. The Bulldogs went on a whopping 16-0 run to close out the first with a 47-25 lead. The Spartans went to the locker room in hopes of coming up with a successful plan to gain a much-needed advantage in the second half.

Both teams exchanged leads in a back and forth second period, but the Spartans’ offense gained some traction in the half. There was a good amount of 3s, free throws, jumpers and layups.

Fast forward almost 10 minutes later, and the Spartans’ shooting pretty much went cold except for Steadman’s 3 with 6:03 left in the second. With a little over two minutes left, Zach Chappell made a pair of free throws on the fastbreak to pull the Spartans within 19. But, Fresno State let the clock wind down, and SJSU lost by a final score of 73-53.

The Spartans head to Reno for a road tilt against the No. 6 Nevada Wolf Pack Wednesday, January 9 at 8:00 pm PT on CBS Sports.

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