Postgame Press Conference Video
San Jose, Calif. --- San José State's 2014-15 men's basketball season came to a close Saturday night in The Event Center. Despite a 71-58 loss to UNLV, there was a sense of relief that the year had come to a close.
It might seem hard to take anything away from a season where the team finished 2-28 overall and winless in 18 tries during Mountain West play. But senior Jaleel Williams, after his final game as a Spartan, let it fly about what he took away from this year.
"I'm going to take away the value of self-sacrifice for group success," Williams said. "I'm taking that away because even though we haven't won many games, and people may not see it, we feel successful on the inside. It doesn't show up in the record, but if you sit down with the guys on this team, they'll tell you they learned how to stay committed to something. It's about multiple guys coming together to try and win every night, and that builds a bond; A brotherhood that nobody can break.
The brotherhood erupted when Isaac Thorntonwent high above the rim and jammed a vicious dunk over a UNLV defender to make it a three-point game at the 12:00 mark in the first period.
The Spartans and Rebels traded runs back-and-forth all night. After UNLV opened up an early seven-point advantage, SJSU took the lead with an 8-0 run that was fueled by two Rashad Muhammad three-balls.
Jelan Kendrick scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in the first half, helping UNLV regain the lead and grow it to as much as nine points. The Spartans trailed 31-24 at halftime.
Williams hit two from downtown that ignited another Spartans run. Muhammad hit a jumper, and Brandon Mitchell's dunk at the 13:02 mark in the second half cut the lead down to two, 39-37.
UNLV grew the lead again, this time to 12 points with 7:49 remaining.
"We get down and then fight all the way back to two or four points expending all our energy," said Spartans' head coach Dave Wojcik. "Then they just go on another run. I thought Brandon being in foul trouble hurt us because he is one of our better defenders."
Christian Wood scored six straight points for UNLV, including a two-handed slam from the left baseline that gave UNLV a nine-point advantage and essentially put the Spartans away for good. Wood finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
"We shot the ball well in the second half, and took care of the glass," Wojcik said. "We just didn't take advantage of making the shots we had tonight. They did a good job too, and Wood is a potential pro down the road."
Williams led the Spartans with 18 points. Muhammad put in 16 points, and Gaynor joined them in double-figures with 14.
"I haven't been through a season this long or this hard in my whole life," Muhammad said. "I feel like it helped me with my leadership role. I was put in the position to lead with all these guys out, and I just took my experiences from last year to become a better leader this season."
Muhammad ended the year averaging 13.9 points per game to lead the Spartans in scoring for the second straight year.
"These guys never quit," said Wojcik. "They could have folded when we started league play without all these guys playing and got beat by 30 at Utah State. But they kept coming back and kept listening to the staff. They were upbeat and enthusiastic and followed our plan for every game. I'm proud of that and I'm thankful for that."
Newspaper Box Score
UNLV vs San Jose State
3/7/15 7:00 PM at The Event Center
At The Event Center
UNLV 71, SAN JOSE STATE 58
UNLV (17-14, 8-10 MW)
KENDRICK, Jelan 9-13 0-0 21; WOOD, Christian 7-14 4-7 19; MORGAN, Dwayne 4-8
3-3 11; CORNISH, Jordan 3-5 1-2 10; OKONOBOH, Goodluck 2-3 1-3 5; DOOLIN,
Cody 0-4 3-6 3; CHEANEY, Barry 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 26-49 12-21 71.
SAN JOSE STATE (2-28, 0-18 MW)
Williams, Jaleel 6-17 2-2 18; Muhammad, Rashad 6-16 2-2 16; GAYNOR II,
Darryl 6-12 0-0 14; Thornton, Isaac 2-4 1-2 6; Mitchell, Brandon 2-4 0-0 4;
Singer, Ryan 0-1 0-0 0; Mahoney, Danny 0-3 0-0 0; Basor, Ivo 0-1 0-2 0.
Totals 22-58 5-8 58.
UNLV.......................... 31 40 - 71
San Jose State................ 24 34 - 58
3-point goals--UNLV 7-15 (CORNISH, Jordan 3-4; KENDRICK, Jelan 3-3; WOOD,
Christian 1-3; DOOLIN, Cody 0-3; CHEANEY, Barry 0-1; MORGAN, Dwayne 0-1),
San Jose State 9-28 (Williams, Jaleel 4-10; Gaynor II, Darryl 2-5; MUHAMMAD,
Rashad 2-7; Thornton, Isaac 1-2; Singer, Ryan 0-1; Mahoney, Danny 0-1;
Mitchell, Brandon 0-2). Fouled out--UNLV-None, San Jose State-MITCHELL,
Brandon. Rebounds--UNLV 34 (WOOD, Christian 12), San Jose State 32
(Mitchell, Brandon 8; Muhammad, Rashad 8). Assists--UNLV 14 (KENDRICK, Jelan
6), San Jose State 10 (Gaynor II, Darryl 5). Total fouls--UNLV 12, San Jose
State 19. Technical fouls--UNLV-CORNISH, Jordan, San Jose State-None. A-210
Newspaper Box Score