A uncalled foul on the rebound after a Tyrell Roberts three fell short ended up being the difference as Arizona State men’s basketball (8-15, 4-9) walked out of Pullman, Wash. with a 58-55 victory over Washington State (14-9, 7-5). The home court loss to a team that came into the weekend with a NET rank of 145 put a huge hole in the Cougars’ NCAA tournament resume.
Roberts attempt at a game tying three came from the top of the arc and there was hard contact under the hoop as a Sun Devil reached over Mouhamed Gueye and they both tumbled to the floor. Washington State was forced to foul, and since the Sun Devils weren’t in the bonus yet it did not lead to free throws. Fortunately the Cougs were able to get the ball back on the inbounds pass after DJ Horne stepped on the line in front of the Sun Devils bench to give WSU the ball back with 4.2 seconds left.
Unfortunately the pass immediately after the ball was inbounded was intercepted by Luther Muhammad and he just had to dribble out the remaining time on the clock to secure the upset win.
A jumper from Jalen Graham had seemed to put the game out of reached when he pushed ASU’s lead to six with 1:21 left. But a well timed three pointer from Michael Flowers cut that deficit with 45 seconds left to set up the sequence of events in the last ten seconds.
Arizona State had outscored WSU 11-6 over the final six minutes prior to the Flowers three. The Cougars had no answer defensively for Graham down the stretch as he scored six of the Sun Devils last nine points — the other three were scored on a three pointer from Marreon Jackson. It was impressive to see the junior take over the game in the last five minutes, even though it did lead to a Cougar loss.
The fact that Washington State was even in it at the end of the game was impressive; because ASU had started off the second half on a 12-2 run that helped it build its lead to 39-31 before the Cougar offense found its footing. It was Roberts who got the offense rolling with its first three of the half and then Andrej Jakimovski drove the lane for a lay-up and then followed that up with a three to cut Sparky’s lead down to two at 41-39. It would stay within two as both squads swapped buckets and neither side was really able to build up a lead until ASU scored five unanswered points in the space of 57 seconds to make it 58-52.
A pair of free throws from Gueye with 39 seconds left in the first half gave Washington State a 29-27 lead that it take into the locker room. The free throws came after Boakye fouled the freshmen and sent him to the charity stripe with the Cougs in the bonus. Williams had tied the game at 27 with a pair of his own free throws after he was fouled when he attempted to make a lay-up on the fast break after ASU had turned the ball over. And that had come after Graham hit a pair of free throws to give Arizona State its first multi-point lead since the opening minutes of the game.
Graham had hit a turnaround jumper to score the first bucket of the game, which was quickly tied by a Roberts drive down the lane. Horne than nailed a three pointer to give the Sun Devils a 5-2 lead — the last time they’d lead until 23-22 — less than two minutes into the game. Roberts drilled a three, which was then followed up by a Gueye three to establish an 8-5 lead for the Cougs. Washington State would then out score ASU 12-9 over the course of the next seven minutes to make the score 20-14 with 11 minutes left in the half.
But the Sun Devils would come back on a 9-0 run to make it 23-22 ASU with 6:05 left in the first half. That run was capped off by a Muhammad lay-up after he drove the lane.
It was a three pointer from Jakimovski that point an end to that ASU run and give the Cougs the lead back. Horne would tie it up with a jumper of his own and then Graham’s free throws would be the last points scored by Sparky and those came with 3:16 left before the buzzer.
The Cougars two point halftime lead came despite the fact that they had shot 29% from the field and ASU had shot 41.7% — which was really a function of volume as Arizona State had taken 24 shots while the Cougs had taken 31. And this was also true from beyond the arc as WSU was 5-18 and ASU was 3-8 from deep. Unfortunately, shots continued to not fall for Washington State as the rims at Beasley continued to be unfriendly to the home team because several shots bounced hard before they harmlessly fell towards the court.
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Photo Credit: Washington State Athletic Communications