TEMPE, Ariz.— Arizona State (2-1) junior guard Frankie Collins went the length of the floor without hesitation in a tie game Thursday to cap off an improbable comeback effort. Blowing by two Riverhawks defenders at the top of the key, Collins switched the ball mid-flight from his right hand to his left, flipping the ball up and under for the lead with under two seconds remaining.
A 13-2 run to erase an 11-point deficit in the final 2:05 of the second half gave ASU their second win of the season in memorable fashion. The Sun Devils hit their final seven shots in the game, with none being more important than Collins’ savvy finish. In the final 1:45 second of regulation, Arizona State forced five of their 21 total turnovers to come out on top.
“Frankie showed why he’s a winning point guard,” Hurley said.
Collins scored seven points in the final two minutes and finished with 11, including three assists and eight steals. His eight steals is his new career high. Graduate student guard Jose Perez led all scorers with 20 points, going 7 for 9 from the field.
In the first half, the Sun Devils struggled to get things going early, shooting just 26 percent from the field. With six minutes remaining in the first half, the Riverhawks held their largest lead of the night at 12 points. Hurley and the Devils were outplayed for all but 26 seconds of the game as UMass Lowell dominated in the paint and from behind the arc.
“There was a lot of blank expressions in the first half,” said Hurley. “We didn’t have anybody playing well so everyone’s kind of glassy.”
Down the stretch in the second half, the gap became wide yet again for ASU. After a 3-point shot sank for Umass Lowell to push the lead to 11 with 2:12 to go in the game, Desert Financial Arena began to pack up.
But a stretch that began with a Collins 3-point repose perhaps saved the Sun Devils’ March dreams. A loss to UMass Lowell at home in the third game of the year is the kind of stain on a team’s resume that sticks out to the NCAA selection committee, and whether Hurley and the squad knew that, the Devils rose their desire to compete quickly.
“I told them in the huddle ‘this is our save-our-season type of game’ because this is one of those games down in March that could kill you,” said Perez.
The following two minutes generated the win, something that Perez noted was due to the player’s positive energy despite the deficit on the scoreboard.
“When you’ve got positive energy among the whole, it just rubs off,” Perez said. “Positive energy rubs off on the next guy. I feel like my positive energy rubs off on Zo (Alonzo Gaffney) and Zo’s positive energy rubs off on the next guy to make big plays down the stretch. It’s not about how you start, but how you finish.”
Turned up the Heat to Close it Out ⬆️ pic.twitter.com/czq7ZzAlsY— Sun Devil MBB (@SunDevilHoops) November 19, 2023
The Sun Devils will look to continue the positive energy in Las Vegas in the Vegas Showdown. ASU will take on BYU at 10:00 p.m. MST on Nov. 24 from Michelob ULTRA Arena.