(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
In Bobby Hurley’s second try at his first Sun Devil victory, the head coach managed to correct a lot of mistakes in his team’s 83-74 win over Belmont.
Senior guard Gerry Blakes led the way for ASU with 22 points and eight rebounds. Belmont’s sophomore guard Austin Luke led all Bruins with 17 points.
ASU got off to a slow start making just one of its first five shots, while Belmont jumped out to an early lead. The Bruins went on an 8-0 run over the first five minutes, while the Sun Devils shot 1-for-7 in that stretch, falling to a quick 10-6 deficit.
Every Sun Devil other than junior forward Obinna Oleka scored in the first half, and with three minutes left in the first half, the Sun Devils held a 10 point lead. Foul trouble helped Belmont crawl back into the game with four Sun Devils picking up at least two fouls before the intermission. Eleven turnovers for ASU also played a key part in Belmont trimming the ASU lead before halftime.
Both teams struggled to find the bottom of the net in the in the final three minutes of the half. With Belmont making two of its last 13 attempts of the first half and ASU making two of its last nine, Belmont’s free-throw shooting made the halftime score 36-32 ASU.
Belmont came out of halftime on a 7-0 run, and ASU turned the ball over three times in the first three minutes. The lead didn’t last long after ASU went on to make six of seven shots, including three from beyond the arc from junior guard Andre Spight, causing the Sun Devils to take a 52-48 lead. Spight finished with 15 points with four three-pointers.
The Sun Devil run continued with a two-handed dunk from junior forward Savon Goodman, and then the following possession Goodman pushed it in transition and although it took a couple tries, finished at the rim to make it 57-53 ASU with 12:27 remaining.
At the 7:22 mark, ASU had six players with at least three fouls, and the Sun Devils were again struggling to score. A phenomenal possession of on-ball defense from senior guard Gerry Blakes forced a bad shot, and sophomore guard Kodi Justice hit two threes to make it 69-61 ASU. The Bruins were on a 3:15 scoring drought during this stretch.
Belmont managed to pull within one with 3:27 left in the game, but two clutch free throws by Goodman and a floater by Blakes put the Sun Devils up by five with two minutes remaining.
Coming off a play that was reviewed and overturned to give ASU the possession, Blakes got to the rim beating the press and put ASU up by seven.
After a long stretch of free throw shooting, a scary near-injury for Belmont’s senior guard Craig Bradshaw, and Goodman fouling out of the game, ASU found an 83-72 win with a Gerry Blakes dunk to finish it off on his 22nd birthday.
Player of the Game: Savon Goodman
Goodman gave his typical performance, snagging boards on both ends of the floor and providing high energy plays, as well as creating second chances. His two-handed dunk sparked a mid-second half run, and was playing garbage man most of the way, cleaning up the missed buckets. He finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds, and fouled out of the game with 36 seconds remaining.
Biggest Concern: Turnovers
The Sun Devils finished with 22 turnovers, and had eleven in the first half. While they got away with it due to their improved shooting and rebounding, a running Pac-12 team will make you pay for excessive turnovers.
Unsung Hero: Kodi Justice
His numbers from this game certainly don’t jump off the paper, but Justice handled most of the point guard duties in the first half with Tra Holder picking up two fouls before halftime. He created plenty of good looks with his skip passes, and his vision coming off the ball screen got the defense out of position. He also sparked the offense in the second half with his three-point shooting approaching crunch time.
Stat of the Night: 10 three-pointers made
ASU shot 2-for-17 in their loss to Sacramento State, but tonight was a different story. With Spight and Justice getting hot at the right times, the three-pointer propelled this team on runs that proved vital in staying ahead in the game.
Kennesaw State comes to Tempe on Wednesday to take on ASU in its second game of the Legends Classic.