San Jose State falls to Radford in CBI to end resurgent season
San Jose State saw an important season of growth in its men’s college basketball program come to a disappointing end in hail of missed shots Monday, falling 67-57 to Radford in the College Basketball Invitational in Daytona Beach, Fla.
The Spartans, seeded No. 2, led by as many as eight points in the first half, fell behind early in the second half and were within 47-46 with 8:57 left before seeing the No, 10 Highlanders pull away down the stretch.
San Jose State ends its season at 21-14 one year after finishing 8-23 under coach Tim Miles, the Mountain West Coach of the Year. The Highlanders, from Radford, Va., and members of the Big South, are also 21-14 and play in the semifinals at the Ocean Center Tuesday night.
“We missed a lot of layups and in a low-possession, one-and-done tournament those are critical errors,” Miles said. “We didn’t play our best at the big moments. These guys accomplished a whole bunch all season but tonight there were too many turnovers and too many misses of inside shots that were right there for us.”
Guard Omari Moore, the MWC Player of the Year, led San Jose State with 17 points and added four rebounds and five assists. Tibet Gorener added 11 for the Spartans and hit four of six 3-point shots.
DaQuan Smith led a balanced Radford scoring attack with 16 points, with Kenyon Giles adding 11 and Shaq Jules and Bryan Antoine 10 each.
The Spartans shot just 36 percent from the floor (20-for-56) and had twice as many turnovers (12 to 6) as the Highlanders. A team that has hung its hat on rebounding all season, finishing sixth in the national in rebounding margin, was beaten 40-35 on the board.
It didn’t help that Ibrahima Diallo, a 7-foot center from Senegal, opened the game as a starter after injuring an ankle Saturday and had three quick rebounds in six minutes before reinjuring his ankle and missing the rest of the game.
“When Ibrahima went out, our rebounding went right with him honestly,” Miles said. “We just weren’t able to come up with the loose balls. You’ve got to credit Radford, they were really quick to the ball, they were on high-alert, and we weren’t.”
Considering San Jose State had Sunday off while Radford was playing on back-to-back days and was coming off an overtime win against Tarleton State, it made for a disappointing finish.
“We didn’t play our best basketball today and it stunk because that’s a team we feel like if we play 50 times, we win 49, but they got us today,” Moore said. “It’s our last game together as a group. That’s definitely a tough feeling for sure.”
Once the disappointment wears off, the Spartans can look back on winning 20 games for the first time since going 22-9 in 1980-81. Moore finished with 1,312 career points, sixth in career history, and cemented what Miles believes will be a spot in the Spartans Hall of Fame.
“I don’t think it’s quite hit me yet, but I think I’ve put together a career I can be proud of and my family can be proud of,” Moore said. “It’s definitely sad that it’s come to an end, but I love San Jose and I’m glad I was able to play a part in pushing this program in the right direction.”
Moore said he has another year of eligibility left if he wants it, but is leaning toward the process of getting prepared for the NBA Draft.
As Reported by Marin Independent Journal