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ASU Basketball: Gilling's 21 off the bench not enough as Maryland tops Sun Devils, 78-73

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Poor execution down the stretch costs Arizona State in the CBE Classic semifinals.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State met Maryland in a battle of unbeatens on Monday night in Kansas City for what would be the most challenging game each team has seen so far this season. It was the Terrapins besting the Sun Devils, handing ASU its first loss of the season, 78-73 Monday night in Kansas City.

The Sun Devils played superb basketball for the majority of the night, starting with a driving Gerry Blakes layup that would spark a 7-0 run to open the game.

Using a variety of different looks on defense, Maryland would eventually pull within 31-29 with six minutes left in the first half, forcing coach Herb Sendek to burn his first timeout of the game. From that point on neither team would lead by more than five points.

One of my favorite sequences in the game came after a Jake Layman jumper pulled the Terrapins even at 37 with 1:15 left in the half. They would not possess the ball in their half of the court after that thanks to the Sun Devils using the entirety of the shot clock on their next trip, then getting an offensive rebound and doing the same thing once again. A layup by Tra Holder in the final seconds gave Arizona State a 39-37 advantage as the teams headed to the locker rooms.

It was more of the same in the second half. Maryland did play much better in the final 20 minutes, but every run they made was withstood by the Sun Devils. A 9-1 Terrapin binge put them up 66-62 with five and a half minutes remaining, but back-to-back threes by Jonathan Gilling and Bo Barnes put Arizona State back up two. That pair led the team with 21 and 17 points, respectively.

"We have good shooters and they were shooting very well tonight," Sendek said following the game. "Obviously, Jon and Bo really paced us."

After that pair of triples, however, the maroon and gold's offense would go quiet. Maryland had just as much trouble shooting the ball, but some big putbacks late in the game ended up being the difference. Arizona State was outscored 16-2 on second chance points, struggling to box out and get key rebounds all night.

"The inside won down the stretch," Terrapin head coach Mark Turgeon said.

The Sun Devils looked confused about what to run on their final offensive sets of the game. They only scored two points in the final two minutes and were forced to foul for profit. Maryland made five of its six free throws in the same stretch and escaped with the win.

Next up is the third place game of the CBE Classic, to be played at 5:00 PM MT against Alabama, who lost to Iowa State in Monday's other semifinal. The Crimson Tide have not won away from home since March 15, 2013. The game will be televised by ESPN3.