Santa Clara, Calif.-----Mac Peterson's first start of the season paid off for San Jose State as the 6-foot-3 swingman matched his career scoring high of 17 points and the Spartans overcame a 10-point second-half deficit for a 74-68 win over Santa Clara.
The 6-foot-3 Peterson scored 14 of his points in the final 20 minutes and gave San Jose State (6-5) its first lead after halftime, 45-44 with 10:43 remaining, with a pair of steals sandwiched between six consecutive free throws.
"It's the same job, no matter whether you are a starter or are coming off the bench. It was nice to get a start tonight," said Peterson, who replaced freshman Chris Jones in the starting lineup. Peterson's 36 minutes were eclipsed only by Adrian Oliver's 39.
Santa Clara (7-6), which led 30-25 at halftime, built its lead up to 39-29 before the Spartans started their comeback. The Spartans picked up their second win of the season overcoming a double-digit deficit with a 16-5 run over a 6:30 span. Peterson's second of three three-point basket of the night started the rally and he ended it with his free throw string. In between, Oliver hit a pair of free throws and scored a basket and Robert Owens, scoreless in the first half, picked up a loose ball and drove in for a lay-up to get his offensive game going.
Changing defenses helped the San Jose State cause. The Spartans opened the 100th meeting between these teams in a man-to-man, but found themselves in some foul difficulty at halftime. San Jose State came out in a 2-3 zone in the second half and added full court zone pressure after the 12-minute media timeout with Peterson as a wild card defender in the right place at the right time.
"At halftime, we talked about being so intense, we lost some of our composure and poise. We needed to be more poised. Santa Clara is a good team. Mac and Robert were a real stabilizing influence. The zone was more effective in the second half than it was in the first," said San Jose State coach George Nessman.
"We're limited in our options defensively where we are in terms of our roster. We didn't sub a lot in the second half and found a way to get it done."
"You can't beat anyone no matter who it is giving up 49 points in the second half and 45 in the last 16 minutes," said Santa Clara head coach Kerry Keating.
"We had guys open, but we weren't able to make passes when they were open," Keating said about Santa Clara's second-half offense. The Broncos, who had definite size mismatches during the game, shot 37.9 percent from the field.
Oliver finished as the game's high scorer and top rebounder with 23 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Owens finished with 12. The three double-figure scoring Spartans combined to go 20-for-20 from the free throw line after halftime. Oliver was 10-of-10 and Owens made all four of his tries to go along with Peterson's six.
San Jose State shot 76.5 percent from the free throw line and was even better the last 12 minutes of the game. The Spartans, who made 57.9 percent of their second-half field goal tries, made their last 18 from the line.
In addition, forward Kyle Thomas, starting his third game in a row in place of Chris Oakes, had one of his better games of the season with 8 points and a career-high 9 rebounds. In the previous four games combined, the 6-foot-8 Thomas scored 8 points and collected 11 rebounds. Oakes has been withheld from the lineup since the December 18 game at UC Irvine due to an eligibility question centering around his transfer from Pepperdine to San Jose State in 2007.
Guard Robert Smith was Santa Clara's leading scorer with 16 points, but was just 5-of-16 from the field.
San Jose State returns home for the first time since December 8 when the Spartans host UC Irvine, Monday, December 28. The two teams met on December 18 in Irvine with San Jose State emerging with a 69-56 win.
San Jose State (6-5)
Peterson 4-7 6-6 17; Thomas 2-6 4-8 8; Webster 2-7 1-2 5; Graham 4-9 1-4 9; Oliver 6-15 10-10 23; Owens 3-6 4-4 12; Henson 0-0 0-0 0; Dixon 0-0 0-0 0; Ton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-50 26-34 74.
Santa Clara (7-6)
Payne 6-10 3-3 15; Trasolini 1-5 5-8 7; Harison 4-7 2-3 10; Smith 5-16 4-6 16; Cowels 2-9 0-0 6; Cunningham 0-0 0-0 0; Dowdell 3-8 2-4 8; Alexander 0-0 0-0 0; Santos 1-3 3-4 6. Totals 22-58 19-28 68.
Halftime score - Santa Clara 30, San Jose State 25. Three-point field goals - San Jose State 6-11 (Oliver 1-1, Peterson 3-6, Owens 2-4), Santa Clara 5-18 (Cowels 2-8, Trasolini 0-1, Smith 2-7, Santos 1-2). Rebounds - San Jose State 38 (Oliver 12), Santa Clara 36 (Trasolini, Smith 7). Assists - San Jose State 10 (Thomas, Graham 3), Santa Clara 10 (Smith 5). Fouled out - Webster. Total fouls - San Jose State 23, Santa Clara 23. Technical fouls - none. Attendance - 1,634.