Photo credit: @SanJoseStateMBB
By Ana Kieu
SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose State returned home to open a three-game homestand and to snap a seven-game losing skid at the Provident Credit Union Event Center.
SJSU hosted Star Wars Day. That being said, the blue and gold force was with Spartan Nation.
SJSU’s starting lineup featured Brae Ivey, Seneca Knight, Omari Moore, Christian Anigwe and Ralph Agee. Agee was in the starting lineup for the second straight game.
SJSU opened the first half with a 8-2 run initially sparked by Omari Moore’s three-pointer just 22 seconds into the game, but the Spartan defense began to falter midway through the half. UCR took its first lead of the game, 22-21, with 9:55 left in the half. The Highlanders’ Angus McWilliam made the go-ahead layup.
SJSU, however, refused to let the game slip away. The Spartans’ Sam Japhet-Mathias hit a three with 9:11 left in the half. Moore made a paint jumper and a fastbreak dunk in a 20-second span. Knight made a paint layup and a free throw with 5:41 left
The Highlanders’ Zyon Pullin ended the Spartans’ little run with a paint and fastbreak layup with 5:33 left in the half. From there, UCR took a 32-31 lead, thanks to Pullin’s layup with 3:32 left. Both teams made pairs of fastbreak free throws in the closing minutes, but it was the Highlanders who held on for a 39-37 lead over the Spartans at the break.
SJSU had some work to do in the second half. Agee hit a three just 1:03 in, but the Highlanders responded with layups by George Willborn III and Callum McRae at 18:43 and 18:08, respectively, for a 43-42 lead. Pullin made a pair of free throws and Dikymbe Martin hit a three to extend the Highlander lead to 48-42 at 16:34.
The Spartans’ Brae Ivey hit a three, but got fouled. By adding a free throw, Ivey completed the four-point play regardless. Yet, SJSU trailed 52-49 at 14:26.
Ivey and Zach Chappell made their respective pairs of free throws, but the Highlanders’ Arinze Chidom hit a three to help his team maintain an 11-point lead, 64-53, with 9:09 left.
The Highlanders’ Khyber Kabellis threw down a dunk to extend his team’s lead to sixteen, 80-64, with 2:04 left. The Spartans quickly responded with Chappell’s fastbreak free throw six seconds later, but lost by a final of 80-65.
With the win, UCR improved to 8-5, 0-0 Big West. With the loss, SJSU fell to 3-9, 0-2 Mountain West.
SJSU hosts Pepperdine on Saturday, December 28 at 6 pm PST.