SAN JOSE — San Jose State is no fan of moral victories, but the energy from the team after Wednesday’s 68-64 loss to Boise State was upbeat.

There was a sense of defeat, but there was also a feeling of optimism. The Spartans, who were down 22-6 heading into the second quarter, stormed all the way back to bring the game within a point in the fourth. Sparked by a third quarter run that saw SJSU out score Boise State 24-10, the Spartans showed life in a moment when they could have laid down.

What Wednesday’s game showed was that though this team isn’t ready to compete for a Mountain West title, it will be ready.

And soon.

This team is young and hasn’t showed all of what they could do. Their starting backcourt is comprised of two freshman in Jyah LoVett and Sydni Summers who are the go-to scorers on any given night. Just two weeks ago, coach April Phillips was forced to dress just nine players after the team was ravaged by injuries and illness.

But as the season has gone on and the Spartans have faced a gauntlet of a conference schedule, the team has gotten better and better with each game.

“I’m very, very proud of our ladies,” Phillips said. “We stormed back from a deficit that you don’t want to be there. But we were and you’ve got two choices at that point. You can either fight back or you can lay down and we came out fighting, and so I’m very proud of our effort in that way.”

The Spartans were dead in the water in the first half.

Boise State is experienced and took advantage of a Spartan team who got into foul trouble. Starting center Amhyia Moreland got drew three fouls in the first half and Phillips was forced to improvise.

Semaj Smith found a heavier load of minutes in the first half, though she is still recovering from an injury that cost her a game this season. Phillips turned to mid-season transfer Mia Grizelj who hasn’t played at all this season and was cleared to play this week.

But like a lot of young teams, if you let them hang around, they will make you pay.

A big flurry in the third quarter cut the lead to just one, 50-49, going into the fourth quarter. Summers scored 12 points of her game-high 14 points in the second half alone, all on three-point shots.

LoVett was in control of the offense as well scoring 13 points in all while being double teamed almost immediately once she got to the three-point line. Forward Marissa Davis-Jones had solid game scoring 11 points and grabbing three rebounds.

“(Boise State) was sagging off a lot,” Summers said. “I just remember coach telling me to just shoot it if they’re sagging off and make them respect it. So that’s what I did.”

In the end though, it was Boise State’s experience that led them to a win down the stretch. Slowly and methodically, the Broncos ran their offense and hammered the Spartans inside to a tune of 34 points in the paint.

What makes this team so interesting is it feels like the Spartans are just now starting to hit their stride. Looking at the box scores, it’s easy to write this team off with the losses it has. But compared to a year ago, SJSU is in a completely different space.

When asked if this team will be dangerous by season’s end, LoVett said “definitely.”

“I feel like being the underdogs, it’s probably one of the best things because we know within our team what we can be what we and what we will be. It’s only a matter of time of just building the chemistry getting better.”

As the conference tournament gets closer and closer, it will be interesting to see what the Spartans can do as the team gets healthier.

“There’s a balance of playing your heart out on a night like this,” Phillips said. “It’s deflating a little bit. You can have a pity party or you can just dig deeper.”

Are they going to compete for a conference title this year? Probably not.

But the foundation Phillips has built makes it seem like this will be a team that could compete in the Mountain West for years to come.

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