Beasley Coliseum was a somber scene Sunday in loss to Spartans

Fans scattered the stands like islands in an ocean of red seats as the Cougars fell to the San Jose State Spartans 88-76 Sunday afternoon at Beasley Coliseum.

Although the score may indicate a competitive game, the Spartans clearly dominated the second half.

Sophomore forward Brandon Clarke set the tone early for SJSU with a vicious top-10-worthy two-handed slam dunk in traffic and the Spartans didn’t look back. San Jose outworked and out-hustled WSU on the boards, out-rebounding the Cougs 50 to 39. The Spartans also had six steals and five blocks to the Cougars’ two steals and three blocks.

The loudest cheers from the sparse crowd came at halftime in the Mini Coug Dunk Contest. The WSU band replaced the student section in this home game, as the student section neither stood nor made so much as a noise throughout the contest. WSU fans acted like their grandfather was taking his post-Thanksgiving turkey nap on his recliner in the next room.

With WSU standing at the foul line, I was forced to consider something I had never thought of; is it possible for the crowd to be too silent when their player is taking a free throw? So quiet to the point where the player is forced to consider every decision they have ever made, every left turn they have taken that has led them to this very moment?

The Cougars shot just 22 for 30 from the charity stripe, a 73 percent clip, so perhaps this isn’t an outlandish hypothesis.

The biggest takeaway from this non-conference matchup was that WSU is a faceless basketball team without any identity or leadership. Ernie Kent is a great head coach, but his vocal leadership style can only take the Cougars so far. A player or two needs to step up to lead this squad.

It was tough to tell if the atmosphere was of a Division I college basketball game or that of a high stakes international chess tournament that Sunday at Beasley Coliseum.

It’s on both the players and fans to step up their game by the time conference play rolls around in a month.