ASU basketball fell to .500 in conference play on Saturday after an 85-71 loss to Stanford. The Sun Devils are now 11-5 overall and 2-2 in Pac-12 play.
The start to Saturday’s game was not ideal for Arizona State. Stanford, the game’s host, took an early 12-4 lead, and the Sun Devils looked sloppy.
Shortly after, however, ASU found its groove.
Led by a strong effort from freshman Luguentz Dort, the Sun Devils closed the gap and trailed by just two points at the break. Dort scored 15 of the team’s 38 points in the first half on 6-of-10 shooting.
Still, Arizona State found itself in a hole as the game progressed.
The Cardinal opened the second half on a 12-0 run, putting them ahead 52-38. It wasn’t until 5:27 into the second half that the Sun Devils scored a bucket.
Despite a three-minute scoreless drought and ASU cutting the lead to five at one point, the Sun Devils were never able to recover from those first few minutes of the second half.
Eventually, the game got ugly. Turnovers and missed free throws proved costly, leading Stanford to an 85-71 victory.
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For Stanford, one of the leaders was KZ Okpala. A sophomore phenom, Okpala tied for the most points on the team with 21. This was his second game in a row with at least 20 points.
Oscar da Silva also had a stellar game for the Cardinal. After four consecutive games of failing to reach double figures, da Silva also tallied 21 points along with 10 rebounds.
It was more than individual successes that carried the Cardinal to victory. They were vicious on the low block.
Stanford finished the contest with seven blocks, compared to ASU, which had one all game. Josh Sharma led the team in swats with three.
Offensively, the Cardinal were almost unstoppable in the paint. Stanford outscored ASU 46-34 in the paint.
Though Stanford was exceptional in almost every aspect, Arizona State struggled on both sides of the ball. And at the free-throw line.
The Sun Devils finished the game shooting 6-of-17 (35.3 percent) from the line, and that stat could have been worse if not for Jordan Salzman’s made attempts in the final minutes.
But that’s not where the shooting woes ended. In the second half, ASU shot below 35 percent from the field, in contrast to a near-50-percent effort in the first half.
Turnovers also proved costly after the break. The team finished with 19 turnovers, 11 of which came in the final 20 minutes.
In spite of a rough night, Dort played well, for the most part. But he saw limited second-half playing time due to foul trouble. Dort eventually fouled out, finishing with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
With the loss, head coach Bobby Hurley was unable to clinch his first road sweep since arriving at Arizona State. His next chance at that will be in two weeks when ASU heads to Los Angeles.
Before that, Arizona State hosts Oregon and Oregon State at Wells Fargo Arena. The home series kicks off Thursday evening against the Ducks.