Dec. 21, 2013
San José, Calif.----- Forwards Chris Cunningham and Jaleel Williams each scored 18 points as the San José State University men's basketball team defeated Westminster College of Utah, 73-66, in a non-conference game.
The Spartans' win was their third in a row since December 7 at Houston and each by a double-digit comeback in the second half. San José State (5-6) trailed 45-32 with 17:27 remaining in the game. The Spartans overcame a 15-point deficit at Houston and trailed UC Davis by 19 in the second half before winning 89-85 in triple overtime on December 18.
"I'm not a very patient person. I sort of took a step back late in the first half when they went up 10. I just let the guys play through it. I tried to get after them early and they did not respond," said San José State head coach Dave Wojcik. "So, I thought I would take a step back, be a little more quiet and see what they do.
"They seemed to come back, so I continued doing it. It's a tough thing to do when you get down and get frustrated. But you've got to keep your poise. If you don't, then they don't keep their poise."
Westminster (7-7) had its last double-digit lead, 57-47 with 8:03 remaining before the Spartans staged their successful comeback. Over the next six minutes, San José State outscored the Griffins, 13-5, taking advantage of one of their better free throw shooting efforts of the season. The Spartans made six-of-eight free throws during this stretch to get with four points, 64-60. For the game, San José State was 25-of-31 from the line.
"We capitalized at the free throw line," said Williams who was 5-of-6 from the line including two key free throws that pulled the Spartans to within two at 62-60. "Our team goal is 75 percent, and we shot five percent better than that."
San José State finished the game making its final three shots, all three pointers for the win. Trailing 64-60, Rashad Muhammad hit a 3-pointer on an out-of-bounds play with 2:01 left to cut the deficit to 64-63. Devante Wilson, who scored 10 points, gave San José State its first second-half lead, 66-64 at 1:16 with his three-pointer. D.J. Brown added his only three-pointer of the game after a Griffins' miss giving the Spartans a 69-64 lead.
Forward Tailon Robertson led Westminster in scoring with 18 points. Guards Blake Skidmore with 16 and Colton Moon with 13 also scored in double figures for the Griffins that lost their third in a row.
Cunningham notched his third double-double of the season leading all players with 11 rebounds.
"We came out energized and ready to execute. Then, Westminster came back and punched us in the mouth. We didn't handle it well towards the end of the first half," said Cunningham.
Though San José State made seven of its first nine shots and its final three tries of the game, the Spartans missed 14 consecutive shot attempts over a 12:25 span that covered the last 9:40 of the first half and 2:45 of the start of the second half. Westminster was able to overcome a nine-point first-half deficit and took a 38-32 lead into the locker room at halftime.
San José State pulled out the win despite a season-low eight points by Muhammad, the team's leading scorer. The 6-foot-5 freshman missed his first six shot attempts and was scoreless until the 6:08 mark of the second half when he made the first of his two three-point baskets.
"Rashad really fought himself. He was pressing a little bit. He was frustrated that he didn't get some open looks. As I told him, `you've got to let the game come to you and impact the game in a different way - get to the free throw line, drive the basketball," the San José State coach said. "He hit a big shot at the end - a 3 on a baseline OB (out-of-bounds) play. He always comes through."
"We know we are never out of a game no matter what the score is. Coach (Wojcik) preaches we always play hard and good things will happen. We picked it up in the second half and that's what we've been doing," added Cunningham.
San José State returns to action looking for its fourth win in a row on Saturday, December 28, hosting Pacifica College in a 2:00 p.m. game at The Event Center.
Westminster vs San José State
12/21/13 12:00 p.m. at San Jose, Calif. (The Event Center)
SAN JOSÉ STATE 73, WESTMINSTER 66
Tallon Robertson 8-14 2-5 18; Blake Skidmore 5-14 2-2 16; Colton Moon 4-15 3-4 13; Quincy Bair 2-5 3-4 8; Adam Egan 2-4 2-2 6; Jordan Pryor 1-7 2-4 5; Nick Jenson 0-1 0-0 0; Marcus Parry 0-0 0-0 0; Chris Melville 0-0 0-0 0; Casey Evans 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-60 14-21 66.
SAN JOSÉ STATE (5-6)
Cunningham, Chris 6-9 6-8 18; Williams, Jaleel 5-9 5-6 18; Wilson, Devante 2-7 4-4 10; Muhammad, Rashad 2-9 2-2 8; Thornton, Isaac 2-4 4-6 8; Brown, D.J. 2-4 2-2 7; James, Jalen 1-5 0-1 2; Mitchell, Brandon 0-3 2-2 2; Alexander, Dylan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-50 25-31 73.
Westminster................... 38 28 - 66
San José State................ 32 41 - 73
3-point goals--Westminster 8-21 (Blake Skidmore 4-9; Colton Moon 2-8; Quincy Bair 1-1; Jordan Pryor 1-2; Tallon Robertson 0-1), San José State 8-19 (Williams, Jaleel 3-6; Muhammad, Rashad 2-5; Wilson, Devante 2-4; Brown, D.J. 1-2; Mitchell, Brandon 0-1; James, Jalen 0-1). Fouled out--Westminster-None, San José State-None. Rebounds--Westminster 35 (Tallon Robertson 8), San José State 40 (Cunningham, Chris 11). Assists--Westminster 11 (Colton Moon 4), San José State 10 (Thornton, Isaac 4). Total fouls--Westminster 24, San José State 17. Technical fouls--Westminster-None, San José State-None. A-1338.