There was obvious momentum for Arizona State Men’s Basketball (5-7) heading into tonight’s matchup against the San Francisco Dons (11-1). The Sun Devils were on a three-game win streak with no sign of slowing down.
But there had to come a time when things fell short. That happened to be Sunday night.
The Sun Devils lost to the Dons 66-65 at Desert Financial Arena.
The Sun Devil’s started off strong with a 9-2 run in the first four minutes of the game. DJ Horne had two consecutive 3-pointers to start the game.
But after that strong start for the Devils, the game was pretty much back-and-forth the rest of the night. The game was tied on numerous occasions, and had different lead changes left and right.
It was down to the wire all the way to the end, even in the last seconds.
Jay Heath had the 3-pointer that gave ASU the lead with 1:40 left. After a series of free throws by Dzmitry Ryuny that put USF up 66-65, Kimani Lawrence had the steal to give ASU possession with four seconds left.
ASU didn’t need three points; they only needed one. But, the last shot was a contested 3-pointer, and Marreon Jackson missed it.
“I would have loved to have gotten a better shot… We were hoping to get something going to the basket,” coach Bobby Hurley said.
Yet again, It was close game for Hurley and ASU.
The Devils just came off of a close road win against Creighton.
Their last three contests have been within five points or less. Sunday night was no different, but it didn’t end like they wanted.
“We just got to close the game out. We got to make free-throws late in the game. Put a team away. We didn’t do it, opened a door, and the rest is history,” Hurley said.
The big talk coming into the game was that the Dons were undefeated. GCU changed that narrative on Saturday night when they beat them in a close fought match 49-48 in the 2021 Jerry Colangelo Classic.
“If you’re a one-loss team at this point in the season, you got to be a pretty good team,” Hurley said.
But even though the Dons were no longer undefeated, ASU’s game plan remained the same.
All eyes were on two-time WCC player of the week, Jamaree Bouyea. Bouyea was held to just two points in the first half after a steal and dunk on the last play of the half. He was held to just four points total.
He normally averages 20 points.
But the loss for ASU was not necessarily attributed to lack of effort.
The team created 21 turnovers and had 17 offensive rebounds, which Hurley said is evident that there was hustle and hard-work on the court, despite the outcome.
Jay Heath clearly played with that hustle Hurley admires.
He started with a beautiful up and under layup and a total of six points, two rebounds and two steals in the first 12 minutes of the game. He finished the game with 18 points, 12 rebounds, and three steals off the bench.
“He brings in a lot of energy off the bench… He is a big part of our team, and it’s good starting to see him play well,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence had 18 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. By now, ASU fans expect nothing less from the veteran.
Jalen Graham was quieter than normal.
He was suffering from a bruised knee that had him limited at practice on Friday and out of practice on Saturday. It was clear he was playing through some pain.
“He didn’t have the best night. Certainly, statistically,” Hurley said.
Graham finished with only four rebounds and was not able to hit his free throws.
ASU’s loss tonight still gave them a 6-5 series advantage over San Francisco.
Tonight’s game was the 11th meeting between the the Sun Devils and the Dons. The last time they played each other was in December of 2019 when ASU topped USF 71-67.
ASU will play Florida A&M next at home on Tuesday at 3 p.m. MST.
“We can only hang our heads for so long, and then you got to flip the page and get ready for the next game,” Lawrence said.