Arizona State basketball staged a valiant late rally against the Stanford Cardinal Saturday evening at Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils’ gritty small lineup dictated the tempo in the final minutes of the game, but was unable to overcome a 16-point second-half deficit in a 62-59 loss.
Stanford won for the fourth time in five games, and sixth straight over ASU, earning a split on its desert road swing after losing 73-66 at No. 7 Arizona last Wednesday.
The loss drops Arizona State’s record to 18-6, 7-4, while Stanford now stands at 15-9 overall and 6-5 in Pac-12 play.
In many respects, poor shooting from the outset of last night’s contest doomed ASU. Despite an abundance of uncontested shots, the Sun Devils connected on just 34.4 percent in the game, and only 30 percent from behind the arc.
Junior guard Evan Gordon, the star of Thursday’s win over Cal, hit on just 4-of-16 attempts and only 1-of-6 from three-point range.
Worse yet, ASU continued to be ineffective from the free throw line, hitting just 8-of-16 attempts. It ranks last in the Pac-12 in free throw percentage, making 62.1 percent in all games and 60.5 percent in conference games.
Even when struggling on an apparent off night, Arizona State fought until the final buzzer against Stanford. The Sun Devils were challenged in almost every way — size, skill, shooting ability and depth — and yet still managed to keep the game close.
Arizona State won the rebounding battle 38-36 and claimed 15 offensive rebounds, which led to a 13-2 advantage in second chance points.
ASU forward Carrick Felix finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the 2012-2013 season. Point guard Jahii Carson added 15 points of his own and forward Jonathan Gilling contributed an additional 13 for the Sun Devils.
In the end, Stanford forwards Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis were too much for ASU coach Herb Sendek’s squad. They combined for 35 points and 22 rebounds, and each made both of his 3-point attempts. The Cardinal’s 6-10 forward, John Gage, also made three of his four 3-point attempts.
Sendek commented, “Going into the game, we were very aware of the matchup challenges that Powell and Huestis cause. That matchup along the front line was difficult for us. Truth be told, we had some challenges carrying over our preparation into execution.”
He added, “Those guys are terrific players, having outstanding years, very athletic and versatile. In order to try to get back in the game, we went small ball and made a flurry. We had some opportunities with some open looks that might have put us even in a better position.”
Arizona State will try recapture some momentum on the road at Utah and Colorado next week. The Sun Devils defeated both teams at home on the first weekend of league play.