Arizona State dropped its second conference game in two tries on Thursday at Oregon State, failing to get in any kind of offensive rhythm and falling to the Beavers, 55-47. Long gone is the momentum gained from double digit victories over Detroit and Harvard to close the nonconference portion of the schedule. The team is failing to take care of the ball on offense and cannot capitalize after stands on the defensive end of the floor.
The struggles began early. After jumping out to a 4-2 lead, the Sun Devils turned the ball over twice in 25 seconds. They would end up turning it 16 times on the night.
A 10-3 run by the Beavers put the home team ahead 12-7 with 13 minutes left in the first half. They would not trail from that point on. The maroon and gold struggled to make any of their jumpers with consistency for the remainder of the half, meaning their deficit would fluctuate anywhere from four to eight points. Oregon State's Olaf Schaftenaar hit a free throw with two seconds remaining to make the score 29-20, and that is where the lead remained heading into the second half after a lane violation wiped out Schafternaar's second attempt.
To ASU's credit, their effort coming out of the locker room to start the final 20 minutes was impressive. The Beavers made a concerted effort to take the Sun Devils completely out of their gameplan by slowing the pace down to an excruciating level, but the visitors hung tough, defending for the entire duration of the shot clock on most possessions and being able to stay within striking distance the entire game.
At the end of the night, however, the team was unable to put together that one big run needed to take back the lead from Oregon State. Too many turnovers, too many one-and-done trips offensively, and too many missed 50-50 balls can be blamed for that. ASU was able to pull within 44-41 with just four minutes remaining, but an Eric Jacobsen foul at the end of another long Beaver possession put Malcolm Duvivier on the free throw line. He made both, the beginning of nine made shots from the charity stripe down the stretch to salt the game away.
Twice the Sun Devils cut the deficit to five points after Oregon State's lead ballooned to seven, but a missed Jonathan Gilling three-pointer with 55 seconds left erased any doubt in this one. The final was 55-47, dropping Arizona State to 8-7 on the season and 0-2 in Pac-12 play. Oregon State improved to 10-4, remained unbeaten at home, and got to 1-1 in league play with the victory.
Jacobsen and Shaquille McKissic led the Arizona State with 11 points each. Oregon State's Duvivier topped all scorers with 15.
This Sun Devil team is now at a crossroads. The next few games are critical as we will see whether the team is content with their placement towards the bottom of the Pac-12 standings, or if they can right the ship and work their way back to some kind of postseason bid. It is paramount that they are able to dictate the pace of those games. The Beavers provided a blueprint for beating ASU, and while it was ugly, it proved highly effective. To see, the Oregon State perspective of the game, click here for Building the Dam's recap.
Next up is a trip to Eugene on Saturday afternoon to face Oregon. The game will tipoff at 3:00 PM MT and will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.