(Photo: Brady Klain/WCSN)
The last time Oregon State won a game on the road versus a Top 25 team was in January of 1985. Their drought is going to have to last a little longer. Arizona State escaped Saturday with a win, defeating the Beavers 77-75.
“A really courageous performance by our team,” Coach Hurley said following the thrilling victory. “Shows again the resiliency and determination to win. It’s a fun team to go to battle with.”
After a tough loss at home, you’d expect the Sun Devils (14-3, 2-3 Pac 12) to come out and assure there wouldn’t be a repeat performance of Thursday night. Early on, it looked as if the struggles from last game were carrying over. ASU looked sluggish in the opening minutes. They were getting out-rebounded and just couldn’t find the hoop. Luckily for the Devils, both Remy Martin and De’Quon Lake were able to come off the bench and provide much needed sparks.
“Tonight the bench responded,” Hurley said. Arizona State’s bench would outscore Oregon State’s bench 27-7. Remy Martin contributed 12 points and added three rebounds and three assists. De’Quon Lake had 11 points, to go along with his six rebounds and three blocks. He finished with a game-high +15. “I couldn’t take him out of the game,” Hurley said when asked about Lake’s performance. “He was so athletic around the basket and did so many things to impact the game for us.”
All season long, the storyline for the Sun Devils has been their dominant three-point shooting. In the first half, the Devils shot only 33 percent (3-9) from behind the arc. Kodi Justice was the lone Devil who knocked one down in the first-half, going 3 for 4. Both teams were nearly identical shooting wise in the first half, with the Beavers shooting 43 percent and the Devils shooting 41 percent, respectively. Both teams shot 33 percent from deep.
Things didn’t look good in the second half for the Devils. They were held scoreless for three minutes, as they watched the Beavers (10-7, 2-3 Pac 12) go on a 10-0 run to take a double-digit lead. “We knew if we didn’t change something quick, we were going to give this game away,” Kodi Justice said when asked about falling behind. “Our energy picked back up. We were picking up full court and pressuring the ball. We were speeding them up so they could play at our pace.” OSU’s lead would eventually get up to 13 with under 12 minutes remaining, but that’s when the Sun Devil team we’ve come to love showed up.
The Devils answered with a run of their own. A Kodi Justice three would nearly bring the house down, as ASU found themselves within two points with nine minutes remaining. “That three-pointer felt like six points,” guard Kodi Justice said on the crowds impact. “I think they [Oregon State] got rattled because the crowd was so loud.” Both teams would exchange leads the rest of the way. Remy Martin, the electric spark that has jolted the Devils all season, gave the team the lead with an and-one with just a few minutes remaining.
With seven seconds left in the contest, Shannon Evans would go to the line for the Devils. After making the first and missing the second, the Beavers had one final shot to tie the game, or go for the win. Tres Tinkle hoisted one up from three, but it missed the rim, giving the Devils a 77-75 victory.
Shannon Evans, who scored all 22 of his points in the second half, joked as to why he went scoreless in the first half. “Coach Hurley didn’t give me the ball,” the senior said with an emphatic smile on his face. “If I’m not getting shots and we’re winning, I’m cool with it.” Evans knocked down seven of the 11 shots he took, including three of four from deep. The guard also finished the game with seven assists and six rebounds. “Shannon was in attack mode,” Hurley said. “He wasn’t going to let us lose.”
After getting dominated in the paint versus Oregon, the Sun Devils answered back, outscoring the Beavers 34-32. “I felt like we had more energy tonight,” Evans said on what attributed to the improvement. “Guys were trapping with high hands, and things like that. We were playing rotations, and guys were getting in the right spots. Knowing our defensive assignments.”
Tra Holder, the leading scorer in the Pac-12, had a quiet night from the field. The guard only had four points, and knocked down one of his nine shots. “Without him, we wouldn’t be where we’re at,” Justice said about his fellow senior. “To be able to pick this one up for him. He went out there and fought, even though offensively it wasn’t his night.” It just shows how on any given night, any player can step up for this team. It’s tough to win a game when your leading scorer only scores four points.
“You want your crowd to leave on a positive note, and I think they witnessed a great basketball game,” coach Hurley said.
Arizona State’s next game is Wednesday Jan. 17 at Stanford.