After a 21-day layoff, the Sun Devils were back in action at Desert Financial Arena, as they faced the Pac-12 preseason favorites, UCLA Bruins.
Arizona State only had eight available players for the matchup for various reasons. Despite that Preseason All-American and leading scorer, Remy Martin (personal reasons), Taeshon Cherry (health protocols), Jaelen House (health protocols), and Jalen Graham (illness) missed the game, ASU gave the Bruins a fight.
In the end though, Arizona State (4-4, 1-1 Pac-12) fell to UCLA (8-2, 4-0) 81-75 in overtime.
The Sun Devils struggled offensively for long stretches in the first half. Nevertheless, their defense kept them in the game.
Arizona State took a two-point lead into halftime after it limited UCLA’s ability to create high-quality shots and forced the Bruins into 18 turnovers throughout the game.
In the second half, there were 11 lead changes early. The Bruins took control and held a lead for over nine minutes before a last-second effort from ASU.
With 9.9 seconds remaining in the game, the Sun Devils had one last shot to either tie the game or take the lead. Alonzo Verge took matter into his own hands and got to the line for a pair of free throws. Verge forced overtime after he hit both.
In overtime though, depth issues came back to haunt ASU. Both of the team’s big men, Chris Osten and Kimani Lawrence, fouled out with over three minutes remaining.
UCLA forward Cody Riley took over in the final five minutes with the absences. He scored eight of his career-high 22 points in overtime. Riley shot 8-for-11 from the field and added 13 rebounds as well.
David Singleton fueled the Bruins off the bench, too. He shot 4-for-6 from three and scored 14 points. UCLA’s non-starters scored 25 points compared to Arizona State’s four.
Along with a lack of production from the bench players, the Sun Devils continued to struggle with their shot from beyond the arc. On Thursday, Arizona State finished with a measly 23.1% (6-26) 3-point clip.
Verge led all scorers with 25 points and Josh Christopher nearly matched him with 22 points of his own. In his first game back after a scary calf injury, freshman forward Marcus Bagley scored 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Even though the result did not come out with a win for Bobby Hurley’s squad, ASU put up a tough fight and nearly knocked off UCLA without four key players.
The Sun Devils are back in action on Saturday as they take on the USC Trojans at 4 p.m. local time on the Pac-12 Network.