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ASU Basketball: Sun Devils hold off Cal State Bakersfield for 75-59 win

It took a while, but Arizona State closed the nonconference season on a high note on Monday.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

For as challenging as the nonconference schedule has been for the Arizona State Sun Devils, it was only fitting that it would conclude with a test against a feisty mid-major opponent.

The CSU-Bakersfield Roadrunners gave Bobby Hurley's team all it could handle on Monday night, but Arizona State (10-3) used a 14-4 run to close out an important 75-59 victory.

It was clear from the outset Cal State Bakersfield (8-4) were ready to put up a fight. The first half was filled with mini-runs that were quickly answered by both teams, with neither the Sun Devils or Roadrunners leading by more than five points for the entirety of the opening 20 minutes.

Arizona State seemed to be suffering from a bit of a post-Christmas hangover, making a few careless mistakes early on. The Sun Devils were once again without leading rebounder Savon Goodman, who missed a fourth straight game due to personal reasons.

Eventually, Arizona State began to find its energy and rhythm. The source of life came from guard Gerry Blakes, who tallied three points and an assist and a rebound in the final two minutes of the first half. That spurt gave his team a 29-28 lead as they headed into the locker rooms.

Blakes finished the night as ASU's second leading scorer with 15 points despite shooting just 38 percent from the field. He also led the team on the glass with seven rebounds.

Both teams came out of the halftime break looking sharp. Cal State Bakersfield looked determined to stay in the ballgame as it immediately took a 30-29 lead. The Roadrunners then tied the contest three different times over the next three minutes, making the score 34-34 at the under 16 media timeout.

After a bit of a quiet start to the night, it ended up being point guard Tra Holder who provided the spark to give the Sun Devils some breathing room. The point guard buried a trio of three-pointers, and assisted on one more, in less than four minutes to make the score 52-46.

A CSUB turnover on the next possession paved the way for a fastbreak dunk from Obinna Oleka, forcing a timeout as Arizona State had its biggest lead of the night. The Roadrunners pulled within 54-51 on an Aly Ahmed jumper with five minutes remaining, but that would be the closest the score was for the rest of the night.

The Sun Devils made nine free throws in the final two and a half minutes to make the final margin bigger than the game truly indicated. Even sparingly used guard Austin Witherill got in on the action, making the game's last two free throws to make the final score 75-59.

With the win, ASU has now reached double-digit victories before even starting the month of January.

Arizona State will conclude its homestand, and commence Pac-12 play, with its next game against the rival Arizona Wildcats on Sunday afternoon. Tipoff is set for 12:00 p.m. (MT).