SAN JOSE -- San Jose State's men's basketball team broke one long drought Wednesday, but it couldn't snap a more important one.
The Spartans led in a game for the first time in more than 295 minutes but couldn't secure their first Mountain West Conference win and lost to Air Force 51-48 before 1,326 at the Event Center. SJSU (6-18, 0-12 MW) has now lost 26 consecutive conference games dating back to last season.
San Jose State had the ball trailing by a point with 23.4 seconds to go, but Isaac Thornton turned it over and Air Force's Max Yon made two free throws.
Thornton missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the other end, but the Spartans kept possession on a held ball situation. Devante Wilson, who led SJSU with 15 points, had his 3 at the buzzer blocked by DeLovell Earls.
"We have to get better at finishing games," Spartans coach Dave Wojcik said. "We've got to learn how to win, and we're not there yet. They made a couple plays down the stretch, obviously, and we didn't.
SJSU's Chris Cunningham finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Kamryn Williams led Air Force with 15 points.
The Spartans took a brief lead when freshman Dylan Alexander, who a minute earlier buried a 3-pointer to get within one, made a jumper to give SJSU a 48-47 advantage with 2:58 left. That was the Spartans' first lead since a 37-36 advantage with 18:16 left in the second half on Jan. 15 in their first meeting with Air Force, a span of 295 minutes and 18 seconds.
The Falcons regained the lead on their next possession, and SJSU didn't score again. Even in the loss, the Spartans felt encouraged to finally be competitive for the first time in a while. The past seven losses had all been by double digits.
"It actually does feel better because we took some tough losses," Wilson said. "We know we're getting better and we're all learning."
Added Wojcik: "It was nice to in the final 30 seconds be in the game and make plays that matter. I'm really proud of the guys. They played hard. We didn't play great and we didn't play smart all the time."
"I just feel for my kids right now. They're really struggling right now mentally."
Follow Jimmy Durkin on Twitter at twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.