(Photo: Josh Orcutt/WCSN)
After a huge victory over North Carolina State to unexpectedly send Arizona State to the championship game of the Legends Classic, the Sun Devils fell in overtime loss to Marquette 78-73.
The start to this game looked very similar to the opening moments of the NC State victory, but the Sun Devils didn’t quite get off to the offensive start like they did against the Wolfpack. Senior center Eric Jacobsen picked up his first foul 31 seconds into the game, and his second three minutes and 17 seconds in. Against NC State, Jacobsen picked up two fouls in four minutes.
Junior forward Savon Goodman also picked up two fouls in the first seven minutes, and with ASU down 11-4 at that point, the frontcourt foul trouble looked like ASU was going to dig itself into a quick hole.
Sophomore guard Kodi Justice picked up his third foul with 2:48 left in the first half, and he was the Sun Devils’ leading scorer with nine points for the half while joining Jacobsen as the second Sun Devil with three fouls.
With two minutes left, senior guard Gerry Blakes hit a three to give the Sun Devils a 30-28 lead, their first lead since the 17:46 mark when they led 4-3. Sophomore guard Tra Holder hit a three of his own in the final seconds of the first half to take a 36-33 lead.
Five minutes into the second half, neither team managed to pull away, with ASU leading 43-42. Jacobsen picked up his fourth foul, and he joined Goodman on the bench after he picked up his third to start the half. Fortunately, junior forward Obinna Oleka stepped up in their absence with seven points and 11 rebounds at the 15-minute mark, and created plenty of second chances against the tall Marquette frontcourt. Oleka finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
The Sun Devils managed to build a six-point lead after a Holder three-pointer with 7:48 left in the game. That was ASU’s fourth three-pointer of the game, and it ended up making five for the game. Holder followed up on his career night against NC State with 15 points.
After ASU extended its lead to the largest of the game at eight points, Jacobsen fouled out with 6:37 left in the game.
Marquette pulled to within two with four minutes left thanks to an 8-2 run led by sophomore center Luke Fischer, who finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. The game was tied at 65 with two minutes left, and Marquette retook the lead after freshman forward Henry Elleson knocked down two free throws.
Goodman tied it up with just under two minutes left after an aggressive drive to the rim. After Marquette missed plenty of opportunities to take the lead with just under ten seconds left, and Goodman took a questionable floater that missed everything, they went to overtime.
After jumping out to a four-point lead in the extra period, Goodman finished with contact amongst the height of Marquette and drew contact, and knocked down the free throw to bring it within one.
The relentlessness on the boards continued to pay off for the ASU frontcourt, as junior forward Willie Atwood tied the game up again at 73 off of an offensive rebound.
After Marquette sophomore guard Duane Wilson knocked down one of two free throws, Goodman picked up his fifth foul and joined Jacobsen on the bench.
Marquette extended its lead to three and after Blakes missed a potential game-tying three-pointer, Marquette pulled away for good.
Player of the Game: Tra Holder
Holder put together another great performance following his 22-point game against NC State. He was aggressive and confident and while at times his shot selection was questionable, he remained aggressive when they were struggling to find baskets.
Biggest Concern: Fouls
ASU is still struggling with the learning curve having to adjust to the new rules established within the NCAA this season. While Marquette was having a hard time staying out of foul trouble as well, ASU picked up a lot of fouls from its frontcourt players, which is its thinnest group on the roster. There were six Sun Devils with at least three fouls, and four fouled out. In total, 51 fouls were called on both teams.
Unsung Hero: Obinna Oleka
With Goodman and Jacobsen in foul trouble and absent for long stretches of the game, Oleka had to step up big time to provide a similar contribution. He did just that and has begun to prove himself as a reliable option coming off the bench for a frontcourt lacking depth.
Stat of the Night: 16 offensive rebounds
Despite the height discrepancy between the two rosters to give Marquette an advantage on the glass, ASU dominated the offensive glass with its undersized frontcourt. The Sun Devils had 15 rebounds on the offensive end, while Marquette only had five.
ASU takes on UC Santa Barbara on November 29 in Wells Fargo Arena.