Despite a late rally to pull within reach, the Arizona State Sun Devils fell in its third and final game of the Tire Pros Invitational, ending the tournament with a 68-60 loss to the Davidson Wildcats. The Sun Devils experienced a shooting drought early that set them back double-digits, creating a deficit ASU couldn’t overcome despite outscoring the Wildcats in the second half.
Arizona State had four players reach double-digits in scoring but collectively couldn’t contain Davidson’s Jack Gibbs, sending him to the free throw line 21 times as he put up a game-high 28 points to hold off the Sun Devils. Following Sunday’s loss, Arizona State drops to 3-2 overall on the season with both losses coming against small conference heavyweights.
Down 59-47 at just under the five minute mark, Tra Holder willed the Sun Devils back into contention with a succession of scoring plays, earning four points at the charity stripe and knocking down a three-pointer to pull his team back within single digits. But the Sun Devil defense continued to have fits containing Gibbs, sending him to the foul line for three free throws to extend the deficit back to ten.
Arizona State’s quick-hitters made a couple of shots to make things close again, as Obinna Oleka and Shannon Evans II each drained a three-pointer to climb back to within 64-60, but there wasn’t enough time left on the clock to play it out and the Wildcats sank their free throws to end the game.
The Maroon and Gold’s urgency in the second half was only needed thanks to a shooting lapse as the first half winded down. A Sam Cutliffe three-pointer put ASU up 16-13 early, but it was the last time they’d see themselves on the right side of the scoreboard. Gibbs picked Holder’s pocket and converted the chance into an and-one opportunity, one he would convert to put Davidson up 17-16, and things spiraled from there for ASU.
A pair of missed layups led to a Wildcat three, and another and-one from Davidson’s Rusty Reigel put the Wildcats up 31-20 late in the period. ASU’s struggles to keep Gibbs off the free throw line continued into the second half, setting the stage for the rally that just came a little too late.
Arizona State next plays host to The Citadel on Wednesday afternoon before traveling to the Bahamas to face No. 2 Kentucky on November 28.