USAFA, Colo. --- Brandon Clarke continued to be one of the Mountain West's best players Saturday afternoon. He shocked the Air Force crowd a number of times during his 36-point effort, none more than his thunderous slam as time expired in the San José State men's basketball team's 89-85 win over the Falcons.
Clarke did everything in the Spartans' win, and the team needed it in order to top the Falcons in what was a close game that featured 15 lead changes. The sophomore grabbed five rebounds, dished out five assists and blocked five shots to go along with his career-high 36 points.
His 36 points are the most since Adrian Oliver's 42 points against Puget Sound on Dec. 22, 2010. It is the third time in five Mountain West games with 20 or more points for Brandon Clarke, and back-to-back with at least 25 points.
"My teammates found me all of the right spots," Clarke said. "No matter how many points you score, it's just always better when you win."
The Spartans (9-7, 2-3 MW) had an 81-73 lead with 2:51 remaining, but It was far from over at that point. Hayden Graham made a layup and Zach Kocur splashed a three to bring the Falcons within two points inside of 30 seconds remaining.
In the final sequence of the game Air Force inbounded the ball from its baseline trailing 87-85, and Brandon Mitchell skied and denied Lavelle Scottie's potential game-tying jumper. James picked up the loose ball and threw ahead for Clarke who put an exclamation point on his game and the Spartans' victory with a two-handed jam.
The win is San José State's second on the road in Mountain West play since joining the conference beginning with the 2013-14 season. It's first win on the road at Air Force since 1997. The team's ninth win of the year matches the total from all of last season.
It was the first loss at home during conference play in eight games for Air Force (9-9, 2-3 MW), and drops the Falcons' overall record at Clune Arena this year to 9-3.
Gary Williams, Jr., and Cody Schwartz got the Spartans out to a fluid start. Williams, Jr., drove the lane for two layups while Schwartz worked the outside, knocking down three of his first four shots - two from downtown.
Schwartz and Ryan Welage hit threes on back-to-back possessions to give the Spartans an 18-14 lead at the 13:36 mark. Clarke hit two different jumpers that gave the Spartans their largest lead of five during the tightly contested opening half.
After Trevor Lyons went to the line and hit two free throws with 8.8 seconds remaining, SJSU executed a perfect half-court press break ending with a layup by Clarke just before the halftime buzzer to make it 45-42.
Clarke and Lyons both finished with 19 points in the first period.
The Spartans shot over 60 percent (60.7) as a team for the first time since the 2012-13 season. Boyce connected of 5-of-6 for 14 points, Schwartz finished 5-of-7 for his 14 points, and Welage hit 4-of-8 for 10 points.
Schwartz and Boyce combined to go 8-for-11 from beyond the arc and the Spartans as a team hit 10-of-21 from deep.
Air Force had four players finish in double-figure scoring, led by Lyons with a career-high 24 points. He beat his previous career-high (22) which was set against SJSU in last year's meeting at Clune Arena. Graham with 19 points, Frank Toohey with 17 points and Jacob Van with 12 points rounded out the double-figure scorers for the Falcons.
Clarke has now blocked five or more shots in as many games this season. His 40 swats through 16 games tops his total of 39 from all of last year. He currenty sits in fifth all-time at SJSU with 79 blocks.
The Spartans return home for a 7:00 p.m. tipoff against Wyoming on January 18.
Newspaper Box Score
San Jose State vs Air Force
1/14/17 2:05 PM at Clune Arena, USAF Academy, Colo.
At Clune Arena, USAF Academy, Colo.
SAN JOSE STATE 89, AIR FORCE 85
SAN JOSE STATE (9-7, 2-3)
Clarke, Brandon 16-22 4-4 36; Schwartz, Cody 5-7 0-0 14; Boyce, E.J. 5-6 0-0
14; Welage, Ryan 4-8 0-1 10; WILLIAMS, JR. GARY 2-3 2-2 6; James, Jalen 1-6
4-4 6; Mitchell, Brandon 1-2 1-2 3; Hillsman, Jaycee 0-0 0-0 0; Singer, Ryan
0-0 0-0 0; Thornton, Isaac 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 34-56 11-13 89.
AIR FORCE (9-9, 2-3)
LYONS, Trevor 7-9 9-10 24; GRAHAM, Hayden 7-13 3-7 19; TOOHEY, Frank 6-8 4-4
17; VAN, Jacob 3-7 6-7 12; KOCUR, Zach 2-5 0-0 6; MANNING, Ryan 1-2 1-2 3;
SCOTTIE, Lavelle 1-2 0-0 2; SIPLES, CJ 1-2 0-0 2; NORMAN, Dane 0-1 0-0 0.
Totals 28-49 23-30 85.
San Jose State................ 45 44 - 89
Air Force..................... 42 43 - 85
3-point goals--San Jose State 10-21 (Schwartz, Cody 4-6; Boyce, E.J. 4-5;
Welage, Ryan 2-4; Thornton, Isaac 0-1; James, Jalen 0-4; WILLIAMS, JR. GARY
0-1), Air Force 6-17 (GRAHAM, Hayden 2-4; KOCUR, Zach 2-5; TOOHEY, Frank
1-2; LYONS, Trevor 1-2; MANNING, Ryan 0-1; VAN, Jacob 0-3). Fouled out--San
Jose State-None, Air Force-TOOHEY, Frank. Rebounds--San Jose State 22
(Welage, Ryan 5; Clarke, Brandon 5), Air Force 26 (GRAHAM, Hayden 6).
Assists--San Jose State 23 (James, Jalen 7), Air Force 18 (LYONS, Trevor 4;
VAN, Jacob 4). Total fouls--San Jose State 25, Air Force 12. Technical
fouls--San Jose State-None, Air Force-None. A-2417