Tim Pierce had 14 points and Justin Graham scored four points in the final 1:33 to help San Jose State beat Utah Valley State 52-47 in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.
Graham finished with 13 points, six assists and six rebounds for
the Spartans (11-13), who snapped a three-game losing streak.
Ryan Toolson scored 12 points to lead Utah Valley State (14-10),
but he was just 4 of 14 from the floor. Toolson, who went into the
game sixth in the nation in scoring with a 24.8 average, went
0-for-6 from 3-point range.
San Jose State played without leading scorer Adrian Oliver for
the third straight game. Oliver, who is averaging 19.5 points a
game, has not played since scoring a career-high 37 points and
injuring his right ankle against Boise State on Feb. 7.
Without Oliver, the Spartans struggled to score consistently and
couldn't put the Wolverines away until Graham sank a pair of free
throws with 1:33 remaining and added a short lean-in shot a minute
Toolson missed all of Utah Valley State's final three shots,
including two 3-point tries. The Wolverines lost for the first time
in four games.
Pierce scored eight of his points in the first 3 1/2 minutes of
the second half to help San Jose State build a 36-27 lead.
The Wolverines, who played the Spartans to a 23-23 tie in the
first half, were still down 43-35 midway through the second half
before making a final push. A pair of free throws by Toolson made
it 48-47 with 1:46 left, but Utah Valley State got no closer and
lost its final road game of the season.
Utah Valley State is a former junior college school making the
transition to Division I. The Wolverines are in their final year of
provisional status and will be eligible for NCAA postseason play in
Toolson was held without a shot for the first seven minutes and
didn't score until nearly 14 minutes were gone. Graham and Pierce
provided the defense for San Jose, bottling up Toolson and forcing
him to take several off-balance shots.
Without Toolson, the Wolverines fell behind 14-5 early but came
back to tie the game at 23-23 heading into halftime, scoring the
final four points of the half on a pair of Toolson free throws and
Tyray Petty's floating jumper in the lane.