(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
Arizona State started off the final home stand of the year the right way, getting the win over Stanford 67-62. Senior forward Shaquielle McKissic led the way for ASU with 23 points and seven rebounds, while Stefan Nastic scored 16 for the Cardinal.
After a slow start for both teams, the pace really picked up late in the first half for both teams, but for ASU specifically. Sixteen of the Devils’ first 23 points came inside the paint, which was a big help to building up their impressive first half field goal percentage of 54.
Not only could ASU put the ball in the basket, but it kept Stanford from finding anything offensively. The Cardinal shot 30 percent in the first half and turned the ball over 10 times, leading to 16 points for the Sun Devils.
Stanford’s three senior stars of Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown, and Stefan Nastic combined for 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting. Randle, their leading scorer, was held without a field goal and only two points.
ASU led at the break 37-24.
Stanford came out of the locker room hot to start the second half, but just like the first half ASU found a big play to bring momentum back on its side with a bucket by McKissic drawing a foul.
Midway through the first half, sophomore forward Savon Goodman and junior center Eric Jacobsen each picked up their fourth fouls, forcing guys like junior forward Willie Atwood and senior forward Jonathan Gilling to play bigger than they typically do, and Stanford scored consecutive buckets right at the rim to cut ASU’s lead to four.
As the dry spell for ASU continued, Stanford tied the game at 47 just around the 10 minute mark, but McKissic again found his way to the rim, drawing the contact and sinking the free throw for the third time of the night.
As the struggles for Randle continued and the dominance by McKissic reigned supreme, ASU was able build themselves a 56-51 lead with 4:31 remaining in the game. Randle, who was 1-for-8 with seven points at the time, couldn’t find a rhythm thanks to the hounding defense by senior guard Bo Barnes and junior guard Gerry Blakes.
In the final minute of the game, Stanford turned the ball over on consecutive possessions, with McKissic and Barnes coming up with impressive steals, eventually putting the game out of reach for Stanford.
Player of the game: Shaquielle McKissic
Whenever Stanford was finding a way back into the game, McKissic found his own way to the rim and finishing with contact at an extremely high rate. McKissic was also the leading scorer for the Devils with 23 points, and I would be crazy not to mention his circus layup in the first half followed by a free throw that went in despite hitting the top of the backboard.
Stat of the night: 40 points in the paint
Neither team could get it going from beyond the arc, and despite foul trouble from ASU’s two starting big men, it got great production on the inside from their perimeter players.
Biggest Concern: Three-point shooting
ASU only shot 20 percent from three although it wasn’t needed tonight, it is a valuable weapon that can get ASU out of shooting slumps.
The Sun Devils play on Saturday against the visiting California Golden Bears on senior night.