By Mohamed Bafakih (@MohamedABafa ):
Running will come aplenty during San Jose State’s upcoming practices after its 82-76 overtime loss against the Runnin’ Rebels Wednesday night.
SJSU (3-11, 0-3 MW) was right in the thick of things against UNLV (12-3, 1-1 MW), but costly turnovers were yet again a theme in its outcome.
“There is no drill that you can actually do to help turnovers,” head coach Jean Prioleau said. “We do run for turnovers, so the guys actually run for the amount of turnovers that they have — and they’ve agreed to that as a team.”
The Spartans finished with 23 as a whole and Keith Fisher, Ashtin Chastain and Nai Carlisle led with four apiece. The trio accounted for the final four giveaways in regulation, as Fisher and Carlisle totaled three in the final three minutes within a two-possession game.
The Rebels, despite committing 21, managed to outscore SJSU off turnovers, 23-14.
Even with the takeaways, the Spartans were in great shape as they rallied back from a 61-51 deficit with 5:17 left in the second half.
A 15-4 run behind 10 of a game-high 23 points from junior forward Ryan Welage and a Noah Baumann go-ahead triple gave SJSU its first lead since the 5:42 mark of the first half, 66-65, with 25 seconds left.
The freshman guard’s confidence was on display, whether it was knocking down consecutive 3-pointers to open up the game or two late in regulation and in the overtime period as part of his 12 points (4/5 3FG).
“Coaches are putting me in the right position to play,” Baumann said. “I’m wide open so I know what I can do, I can shoot very well… I’d like to see some more plays for myself.”
Fellow freshman Fisher, despite four fouls, drew two charges which fueled SJSU’s run.
The Spartans forced a missed layup by the Rebels’ Jordan Johnson on the strong side following Baumann’s three which went well over the basket. An offensive rebound by Cheikh Mbacke Diong on the opposite side gave UNLV another chance with five seconds left, but he was fouled by Welage on his way up.
After splitting a pair of free throws to tie it up at 66, SJSU didn’t use either one of its two timeouts to draw up a play and Carlisle nearly dribbled the ball out for his fifth turnover with 1.1 remaining.
“I didn’t want to call a timeout, I just wanted to run a play right then,” Prioleau said.
Though the refs reviewed the time and possession, the Spartans had one last crack to win the game, but off the inbound SJSU couldn’t find a clear look at Welage who was guarded by 5-foot-11 Johnson.
The Spartans gave up four more turnovers in the overtime period, which led to seven points for the Rebels who were led by 7-foot, 250-pound freshman Brandon McCoy’s 23 points on 7-for-14 shooting and 9-of-11 free throws.
“He [McCoy] is a first round draft pick… we definitely wanted to take him away,” Welage said.
Baumann managed to give SJSU a brief 69-67 lead with 3:26 left in overtime, but UNLV went 11-of-16 from the free-throw line to put it away as it was in the double bonus.
The Spartans will now hit the road and visit New Mexico (6-10, 1-2 MW) on Jan. 6.