LAS VEGAS » Keith Shamburger got his wish.
The San Jose State freshman guard and former Hawaii recruiting prospect burned the Rainbow Warriors for 12 pivotal points, all in the second half, in the Spartans’ 75-74 win yesterday at the Orleans Arena.
When UH lost at Fresno State to end the regular season, it paved the way for a third meeting between SJSU and UH. The Rainbows got the better of both regular-season matchups, including a 77-71 spoil of San Jose State’s senior night.
Shamburger was a big reason why the Rainbow Warriors couldn’t make it 3-for-3.
"To be honest, I wanted Hawaii," the 5-foot-11 Shamburger said. "They beat us twice, and I just wanted to play them again. I got my wish, and we’re going to the next round.
"We had to go out there and win, no matter how many times they beat us. No matter what they spoiled, we still had to go out there and win."
San Jose State (16-14) clinched its first winning season since 1994 and faces Idaho today in the quarterfinals on ESPNU.
The Lakewood, Calif., native narrowed his choices down to UH and SJSU last spring, even taking a recruiting visit to Oahu before ultimately settling on the nearby Spartans.
Shamburger, who averages 11.5 points and became the highest-scoring freshman in SJSU history yesterday (351 points), said he doesn’t reflect on how things might have been different had he chosen UH.
"I really don’t look at that too much," he said with a chuckle. "We’re advancing to the next round, that’s what our goal was from Day 1. … I wasn’t worrying about the recruiting thing at all."
In a 2-minute span he scored three baskets — a coast-to-coast layup, a difficult up-and-under shot from the elbow and a fast-break runner — to bring the Spartans back within a point of UH at 63-62 with 7 minutes to play.
Then with the game tied at 65, he grabbed a key offensive rebound and got bumped by Miah Ostrowski, putting the Spartans up by two from the line with 4:40 left. The momentum shifted to SJSU’s corner at that point.
It was the eighth time this season Shamburger scored all of his points in the second half.
"He’s an interesting cat for a freshman," Spartans coach George Nessman said. "He is not afraid, and that goes back to the beginning of the season. We’re at Oregon the third game of the year, and Keith took over the game for about an 8-minute stretch in the second half (in the win). He’s demonstrated that and he is going to be one of the core players in our program going forward, without a doubt."