Photo credit: @SanJoseStateMBB
By Ana Kieu
After suspending its regular season due to COVID-19, the #9 San Jose State Spartans took on the #8 Wyoming Cowboys in the first round of the Mountain West Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on Wednesday. Unfortunately, SJSU suffered a triple-digit loss, 111-80.
But the Spartans’ journey wasn’t without its fair share of trials and tribulations. From tough losses to delayed flights, SJSU was burdened by a laundry list of issues. SJSU, however, rose up from those challenges.
“Our team has transformed and evolved over the course of this season,” head coach Jean Prioleau told media members. “Toughness comes in many forms and this group has shown toughness on many different levels.”
The Spartans’ starting five featured Omari Moore, Trey Smith, Sebastian Mendoza, Richard Washington, and Ralph Agee. Agee made a jumper to get the Spartans on the board first 2-0 just 30 seconds into the first half. Just eight seconds later, Ike Graham responded with a layup to tie the game at 2.
The Spartans and Cowboys exchanged leads and ties for several minutes in the first half. But it was the Cowboys who took the lead and never looked back. Marcus Williams made a layup in the paint to make it a 10-point game, 21-11, at 14:21. Graham Ike helped Wyoming open a 16-point lead with 2:51 left.
Wyoming closed out the first half scoring with a pair of free throws from Kenny Foster with 28 seconds left. SJSU trailed 59-45 at halftime. Omari Moore led the Spartans with 13 points and five assists at the half.
The Spartans had their work cut out for them. SJSU opened the second half scoring as Ralph Agee capitalized on a Cowboys turnover, made a second-chance layup, and brought the Spartans within 12 points, 59-47, just 34 seconds into the second half.
After a glimpse of hope, the Spartans’ problems reappeared. Ralph Agee appeared to have put a foot to Graham Ike’s groin. The officials handed Agee a Flagrant 2 foul. Subsequently, Agee was ejected from the game. Nate Lacewell entered the game for Agee.
Marcus Williams made a jumper to help the Cowboys take a 20-point lead, 79-59, at 11:27. While the Spartans tried to inch closer, their efforts were ineffective as the Cowboys used a 11-3 run to take a 90-64 lead with 7:36 left.
The Cowboys reached the 100-point mark when Marcus Williams made a layup with 4:15 left. Wyoming proceeded to pour in the points with back-to-back three-pointers by Drake Jeffries and Hunter Thompson, respectively.
The Spartans went on a late 5-0 run, but continued to trail 109-80. The Cowboys had the last laugh as Drake Jeffries capitalized on a Spartans turnover and made a two-point dunk to make it a 111-80 game with three seconds left. The Spartans lost 111-80.
SJSU finished with a 5-16, 3-14 MW record, while Wyoming called it a wrap with a 14-10, 8-9 MW record. Wyoming moved on to the quarterfinals.