Arizona State (8-3) suffered its most embarrassing loss of the young season Wednesday as they fell 96-56 to the St. Mary’s Gaels (11-2) in the Hall of Fame Showcase at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
The Sun Devils never lead in the contest, failing to recover from a 27-7 Saint Mary’s run over the game’s first nine minutes, becoming the first major conference team to lose to a mid-major by 40 points or more in over 15 years.
“(St. Mary’s) was prepared to play make a statement about their team,” head coach Bobby Hurley said postgame. “They were outstanding, and we weren’t.”
Guard Alonzo Verge Jr. was one of the few offensive bright spots for ASU Wednesday, as the junior college transfer led all scorers with 43 points in the loss.
Verge’s 77 percent is the highest percentage of a team’s points scored by one player in 20 years, while also marking the fourth highest single-game total in ASU history and the highest point total ever by a Sun Devil off the bench.
Verge continues to show stark improvement after a wrist injury derailed the early parts of his season, as he has now averaged 26 points across his past three games.
The Chicago native has taken ahold of a larger portion of the team’s offensive responsibilities, leading the team Wednesday in both assists (2) and turnovers (6).
“He was just one of the few guys who had a rhythm on offense, and once he got going we knew we had to keep riding him and just give him the ball just about every time down the court,” Hurley said of Verge. “That was frustrating that you have that little of guys playing well that you have to resort to that tactic, but that’s where we were at.”
Beyond Verge, the positives remain few and far between for ASU with only two other Sun Devils recording even a single point in the defeat.
Sophomore forward Taeshon Cherry was second on the team with eight points, earning his second straight start after a strong performance Saturday against Georgia, while Romello White was third on the team with five points.
Guard Remy Martin, who came into Wednesday’s contest averaging a team best 20.6 points, submitted only the third scoreless performance of his career, going 0-7 from the field and 0-3 from three.
He failed to generate any sort of offensive rhythm, only collecting one assist while turning the ball over three separate times.
“I thought Remy was pressing a little bit early in the game, maybe trying to get himself going,” Hurley said. “He dug a little bit of a hole for himself offensively.”
Martin was not the only Sun Devil starter who failed to score, as fellow guard Rob Edwards went 0-7 from the field and 0-4 from three.
The redshirt senior had been one of ASU’s most consistent contributors in the early parts of the season, averaging almost 12 points and 4 rebounds coming into Wednesday, yet failed to find paydirt even once in the blowout loss.
“Rob had some decent looks,” Hurley said, “he’s just not making anything right now.”
ASU’s poor play was coupled with an otherworldly offensive showing from St. Mary’s, who connected on 59.6 percent of its shots, including an obscene 61.5 percent from three.
Gaels guard Jordan Ford compiled one of the strongest first halves by any Sun Devil opponent, connecting on his first seven shots while finishing the period with 22 points.
“Once (Ford) got going the way he was going early, everything else started opening up,” Hurley said. “They’ve got other guys that if you don’t get to them, they can shoot, they can drive it … They’re a very good offensive team.”
Up next for ASU is a battle with the Creighton Bluejays back in the familiar confines of Desert Financial Arena.
The Sun Devils will look to end their non-conference schedule on a high note as they face Creighton and Texas Southern before traveling to Tucson on January 4 to take on the 16th ranked Arizona Wildcats.
“You lose this decisively, then it’s on me to make sure we’re practicing better, prepared better, and ready to play,” Hurley said.