When conference tournament season comes around, there is one word that describes most of the teams participating: desperate. Most schools need to win the conference tournament championship in order to qualify for the NCAA March Madness Tournament, that only includes 68 teams.
Teams need to be desperate to pull off winning three to four games in a row with their season on the line. Arizona State (12-14, 4-10 Pac-12) showed the fight of desperate team late, but it was not enough in their 59-54 loss to Oregon State (14-12, 7-9) on Wednesday afternoon in Las Vegas.
The Sun Devils trailed by 17 points with 5:34 remaining in the game. ASU came down the next possession and guard Taya Hanson put up a quick triple from at least two feet behind the three point line. Nothing be net.
This started a 21-6 run that brought the game within two points with just over a minute remaining. Over that span, ASU hit five three-pointers, three were from Hanson. Hanson led all scorers with 18 points and a career-high nine rebounds.
Oregon State was able to hold the lead by going a perfect 4-4 from the charity stripe and making a layup over the final minute. The layup was a byproduct of the aggressive full-court pressure applied by Arizona State.
With virtually every Sun Devil defender face-guarding a Beaver, eventually one leak out was bound to happen. The press is what really helped ASU activate desperation mode, as it forced everyone to be engaged and it worked, forcing multiple turnovers and poor quick shots from OSU.
Before the big run, the Beavers gained some separation in the third quarter, when reserve forward Ellie Mack scored 11 of her team-high 14 points in that period. She was 2-2 from three and had a massive and-one during that strecth.
A lot of eyes were on All-Pac-12 guard Jade Loville entering Wednesday’s contest. In the month of February, she scored double-figures in seven of nine games. Against Oregon State, Loville mustered up only nine points on 3-20 shooting.
Her patented midrange pull up was not working like it had for the better part of the season and it was much-needed for the Sun Devils to come out on top. Amid that, Mael Gilles added 14 points and nine rebounds in her final game in an ASU uniform.
The season may not be over yet, as the Sun Devils could make an appearance in the WNIT for the second consecutive year. That will probably be determined after all the conference tournaments wrap up this weekend.