Arizona State's battle with California Wednesday night was a microcosm of the Sun Devils' season. There were ups, downs, mistakes, triumphs, frustrations and elations.
The Sun Devils faced adversity in Haas Pavilion, as they saw a 16-point second half lead disappear in the waning moments of the game. However, Arizona State's stars shined the brightest when it mattered the most, propelling the Sun Devils to a 89-78 overtime victory over the Golden Bears.
With Arizona State down 72-69, Jahii Carson took the ball at half court with 25 seconds remaining. Carson drove to the elbow before turning around and handing the ball off to Jermaine Marshall, who was coming off a screen from Jordan Bachynski.
The former Penn State guard sank his biggest shot in Maroon and Gold, tying the game at 72 with 17 seconds left. Arizona State forced overtime, where it outscored the Golden Bears 17-6.
Carson led all scorers, putting up 29 points and dishing seven assists. Carson dominated in the first half and took over the game in crunch time. Marshall finished with an efficient 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting with six rebounds.
The Sun Devils controlled most of the game despite not having the services of Jordan Bachynski for most of the first half. The senior center picked up two fouls within the first 1:32 of game time and was relegated to the bench thereafter.
After forward Eric Jacobsen picked up his second foul, Arizona State went small in the first half, using a mix of guards and Jonathan Gilling as their tallest frontcourt player for most of the first 20 minutes. The Sun Devils led 42-30 at halftime and stretched that lead to 16 points in the second half.
However, like Cal has done for the majority of the season, the Golden Bears fought back. Chipping away at the Arizona State lead until a Justin Cobbs layup gave Cal a 70-69 lead with 45 seconds left to play. It was Cal's second lead of the game, the first was at the 18:06 mark of the first half.
After an unsuccessful drive from Carson, Cal's David Kravish hit two free throws to bring the Golden Bear lead to 72-69 with 25 seconds left. From that point on, Carson and Marshall took over. Carson scored 11 of the team's 17 points in overtime, including going 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the extra period.
It was the kind of resiliency shown tonight by the Sun Devils that will help Arizona State down the stretch this season. Of Arizona State's final 10 opponents, seven of them have an RPI in the top 53.
That stretch begins Saturday when the Sun Devils visit the Stanford Cardinal (13-7).