Photo credit: @SJSUMBB
By: Ana Kieu
SAN JOSE, Calif. — San Jose State men’s basketball has nothing left to play for except for pride and Saturday’s matinee versus the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels was a rather competitive Mountain West matchup inside the Event Center. SJSU had lost 14 in a row, while UNLV searched for its second straight win on the road.
The Spartans’ starting five consisted of the favorable likes of Noah Baumann, Seneca Knight, Ashtin Chastain, Michael Steadman and Zach Chappell. SJSU hosted Fight for Literary day, which encouraged fans to pledge and possibly donate for the literary of local schoolchildren in the South Bay.
The Rebels jumped out to a fast start as Cheikh Mbacke Diong made a layup and Joel Ntambwe hit a 3-pointer to make it a 5-0 game, but the Spartans got on the board, thanks to Baumann’s layup in the paint and jumper to make it a 1-point game. Knight’s layup gave the Spartans a 1-point lead 6-5 at the 16:54 mark of the first half.
The game turned into a back-and-forth affair between these two teams. UNLV entered the driver’s seat, but SJSU gave the road team a hard time on Walt McPherson court. Steadman made two jumpers–one regular and the other in the paint–and Chappell knocked down a jumper to put the Spartans ahead 22-18 with 7:38 left in the first.
The Spartans continued to pour in the points. Steadman added a jumper in the paint, while Knight came alive with a layup, jumper and lone free throw. Also, Christian Anigwe threw down a dunk with 10 seconds left on the clock to help the Spartans to a 31-28 lead to close out the first.
Baumann opened up the second half in one of the most exciting ways possible. Baumann hit a 3 to not only extend the Spartans’ lead to 34-28, but also to set a new school record with a 3 in 22 consecutive games. The Spartans followed up with Knight’s 3, Steadman’s jumper in the paint and Chappell’s layup. The latter allowed the Spartans to regain the lead 41-39 at the 16-minute mark of the half.
The Rebels regained the lead 46-41 at the 12:07 mark of the half. Mbacke Diong made a pair of layups along with a lone free throw plus a jumper. However, Steadman ended the Rebels’ 7-0 run with a jumper at the 11:27 mark of the half. Steadman then made a layup on the fastbreak to make it a 1-point game.
The Spartans attracted attention to themselves as Ivey hit a 3 on the fastbreak and then drew a questionable penalty for fouling, which was arguably uncalled for by the officials. Still, SJSU regained the lead 48-46, so there wasn’t much to complain about. Well, at least until the Rebels tied the game 46-46 on a pair of free throws by Noah Robotham and snatched a 1-point lead 49-48 on Kris Clyburn’s lone free throw on the fastbreak.
Fast forward to the final minutes (and seconds) of the game where the Spartans pulled within five, thanks to Anigwe’s pair of free throws with 53 seconds left on the clock. Ivey made a pair of free throws in response to Amauri Hardy’s pair of free throws, but Robothom heated things up by making three straight free throws on the fastbreak in a 12-second span. Sure, Anigwe made a free throw on the fastbreak, but that wasn’t enough as San Jose State dropped its 15th in a row by a final score of 71-64.
SJSU hosts the Colorado State Rams on Wednesday, February 20th at 7:00 pm PT.