After somewhat of a post-upset hangover loss at Washington State on Friday, Arizona State bounced back with a road victory in Seattle on Sunday afternoon. The Sun Devils scored 10 of the game's final 12 points to close out their 78-68 win.
A stingy Washington defense caused some problems early on for the maroon and gold, who missed four of their first five field goals and turned the ball over twice in the opening four minutes. The Huskies struggled just as much at putting the ball through the hoop, and it took them nearly 10 minutes just to get into double figures as a team.
Trailing 24-22 with just over two minutes remaining in the first half, Gerry Blakes buried the team's first three-pointer of the game, putting ASU up one. The junior guard talked a little too much after making it and was given a technical by the officials, but that was all he needed to get going. From that point on, it was the Gerry Blakes show.
Another three from the junior college transfer pulled the Sun Devils even at 47 with 11 minutes left in the game, and while Andrew Andrews answered on the other end with a three of his own, it was no problem for Arizona State as Blakes came right back and buried a pullup jumper. The game went like that for the next few minutes, both teams trading baskets and not letting the other pull away.
It looked like Washington might step on the throats of the Sun Devils when it took a 60-55 lead with a little over seven minutes left, but Blakes, playing like a man possessed, got his team right back in it. A driving layup cut the Husky lead to one possession, and another Blakes triple the next time down the floor tied the game at 60.
Blakes also scored the next four points for the visitors, but it was a pass he made that led to perhaps the most crucial shot of the game. Tied at 64 with four and a half minutes to play, Blakes darted into the lane and brought a crowd of Washington defenders with him, desperately trying to keep the guard from scoring yet again. He made the smart play and found Seattle-native Shaquille McKissic wide open in the corner in front of the visitors bench. The senior's three hit nothing but net, giving the maroon and gold a lead they would never relinquish.
While Blakes dominated the afternoon, the tenacious play of Savon Goodman played a huge role down the stretch. His big dunk with 3:25 left pushed Arizona State's lead back out to four points, and his offensive rebound with 1:50 to go let the Sun Devils run an extra 20 seconds off the clock before point guard Tra Holder found a seam for a wide open layup.
Holder's layup made the score 74-66, and that all but ended the game. The Huskies were unable to connect on a couple of rushed three-point attempts, and Holder and Blakes both knocked down enough free throws in the final minute to seal the deal.
Blakes finished the game with 23 points and seven rebounds. Goodman added 19 points and a crazy 13 boards.
The ten-point win is just the team's second away from home this season. It also keeps alive their slim NIT hopes. At 13-12 (5-7 in the Pac-12), Arizona State has six games left in the regular season to improve its resume.
Next up is a visit from the Los Angeles schools, starting on Wednesday night when UCLA comes to Wells Fargo Arena. The Bruins are coming off a big sweep of Oregon State and Oregon, which kept their hopes of a bid to the big dance alive.