Spartans March Into The Valley Looking For Two In A Row
Jan. 15, 2016
SPARTANS MARCH INTO THE VALLEY LOOKING FOR TWO IN A ROW
The San José State men's basketball team hopes to keep the momentum from Wednesday's victory over Wyoming as it goes into the valley to the Fresno State Bulldogs. The Spartans will try and halt a four-game slide against their rivals on Saturday in the 159th meeting between the two programs.
San José State (6-11, 1-4 MW) vs. Fresno State (11-6, 2-2 MW)
Saturday, January 16, 2016, 4:00 p.m. PST
Save Mart Center (15,596)
SPARTANS DEFEAT WYOMING TO END MW DROUGHT
San José State ended a 27-game losing streak Mountain West play when it beat Wyoming, 62-55, on Wednesday night in The Event Center. The Spartans took the lead with 12:25 to go in the first half, and never relinquished it. Gary Williams, Jr., led the way with a season-high 18 points, including six consecutive free throws in the final 1:27 to secure the victory.
CLARKE MAKES PRESENCE FELT ON BOTH ENDS IN THE WIN
Freshman forward Brandon Clarke balanced SJSU's offense by scoring 10 points on the inside on 5 of 8 shooting. But his biggest contribution came on the defensive end in the final three minutes. He forced two Josh Adams turnovers, which led to points on the other end, and he blocked Alexander Aka Gorski's potential go-ahead layup.
SPARTANS CORRAL THE LEAGUE'S LEADING SCORER
Wyoming's Josh Adams came into The Event Center averaging 24.8 ppg, but was held to a season-low 10 points on 4 of 14 shooting. Adams went 0 for 5 from downtown, marking the first game of the year without at least one hit from deep. The Spartans defense also forced Adams to commit six turnovers, two of which came in the final 2:52, leading to four points for SJSU.
Since the turn of conference play, senior guard Princeton Onwas has taken the point guard duties and has thrived with the ball in his hands. At the beginning of the week, his 17.8 points per MW game were 8th in the league. Onwas battled foul trouble in the win over Wyoming and finished with just seven points, but in three games prior, he averaged 22.0 points. Onwas has done the damage coming off of the bench. His largest improvement of all is free throw shooting. He is shooting .649 for the season, but is 20 for 24 (.833) over the last four contests.
SPARTANS AMONG THE LEADERS
As a team, San José State leads the conference in total assists (274) and assists per game (16.1). Frank Rogers' .524 shooting clip on the year is good for third among all MW players, and Princeton Onwas' .520 mark during conference play is top-five in the league. Onwas is also top-10 in the conference at 15.6 ppg during MW play. Ryan Welage leads all freshmen with 29 makes from beyond the arc.
SENIOR LEADERSHIP YEILDS FRESHMAN SUCCESS
While Onwas has been taking care of his business, things have opened up even more for freshman forward Ryan Welage. He has averaged 17.3 points and 6.7 rebounds over the last three contests. The Greensburg, Ind., native thrived on the big stage at San Diego State, scoring a season-high 23 points, and backed that up with 16 points against Colorado State. Welage leads all Mountain West freshmen with 29 made three-point baskets.
CLARKE IS SNEAKY GOOD
If you focus mainly on scoring, then it might be easy to overlook how big Brandon Clarke's contributions have been this season. Lost in all of the drama of last Saturday's heartbreaking loss versus Colorado State was Clarke's four points, seven rebounds, five assists and three blocks. He grabbed four offensive rebounds for the second time this season, and it was the seventh game with multiple offensive rebounds. The 6-foot-9 Clarke is the team's most efficient shooter, at .603 (39-65).
A MARKED IMPROVEMENT
San José State's free throw shooting was dead last in the MW and just plain ugly at .662 during nonconference play. The it got even worse at .609 during the first two conference games against Utah State and Air Force. But something has clicked as of late, and the team is shooting .784 (40-51) from the stripe over the last three contests. The Spartans were 9 of 12 in the win over Wyoming, and actually put the game on ice with free throws. Jaycee Hillsman (.864) and Gary Williams, Jr. (.833) are the team's two best shooters at the line.
WELAGE UNFAZED ON BIG STAGE
Freshman forward Ryan Welage put on a display that at times seemed clinical to the 12,414 fans at Viejas Arena when the Spartans played the Aztecs Wednesday night. Welage was hitting from everywhere on the court - nailing an eight-foot jumper off the glass following one of his four offensive rebounds, draining a fade-away jumper from the top of the key during a 13-2 Spartans run to close the first half, and swishing a three that put the Spartans up 40-39 early in the second half. Following his season-high 23-point performance, the native of Greensburg, Ind., said he enjoys playing on a big stage and credited his teammates for getting him the ball in space.
SAN JOSé state vs. fresno state
San José State beat Fresno State 58-32 way back on December 18, 1916 in the first-ever meeting between the two programs. Since then, the two schools have become biggest rivals and have played fairly even, with the Bulldogs leading the all-time series 83-75. San José State has played Fresno State the most times of any opponent by far, with the 159th meeting coming up on Saturday.
MORE ON THE BULLDOGS
Fresno State comes into Saturday's game with an 11-6 overall record and 2-2 in Mountain West play. They fell at the hands of the MW's hottest team, Boise State, 81-70 in their last outing. Conference wins this season have come against Nevada and UNLV. Marvell Harris, the conference preseason player of the year, is averaging a league best 20.3 points per game in four MW games. Torren Jones is also among the league leaders for his 7.9 rebounds per game. The Bulldogs are coached by Rodney Terry in his fifth season.