Quick turnarounds on the back end of a Pac-12 road trip are never easy, and the Arizona State Sun Devils learned that lesson the hard way on Saturday afternoon in Pullman.
Thanks to some tired legs and a few key mistakes down the stretch, Bobby Hurley’s team left Beasley Coliseum with a 86-71 loss against the Washington State Cougars.
The loss snapped Arizona State’s (13-15, 6-9 Pac-12) two-game winning streak and dropped its record to two games under .500 for the season, leaving the team in a precarious position heading into its final three games.
Washington State (12-15, 5-10), on the other hand, snapped a five-game skid with the victory.
Both teams came out of the gate looking sharp, but neither club managed to gain separation until the Sun Devils went on a 12-3 run late in the first half.
That binge allowed Arizona State to turn a 31-28 lead into a 12-point advantage, but some missteps in the final minutes of the opening stanza allowed the Cougars to pull within 49-43 at the break.
Those mistakes proved to provide a bit of foreshadowing for the rest of the day.
The home team came out of the locker rooms and immediately went on a 7-0 run to grab the lead, but neither Washington State nor the Sun Devils would lead by more than four points for the next 12 minutes.
It was at that point, however, when Hurley’s bunch began to wear down. The Maroon and Gold missed seven consecutive shots between the seven and two minute mark, allowing the Cougars to take full command with an 81-69 win.
Arizona State never got closer than 10 in the contest’s final two minutes, and the final score was 86-71.
Guard Shannon Evans II led all scorers with 21 points in defeat, while three other Sun Devils finished the day in double figures.
Junior center Conor Clifford paced Washington State with 19 points on a 9-of-12 shooting afternoon.
Arizona State now sets its sights on the final three games of the regular season, all of which will be played at home. The stretch begins on Thursday night against UCLA, with tip-off set for 7:00 p.m. inside Wells Fargo Arena.