Harvard came into Wells Fargo on Sunday looking to bounce back from a blowout defeat at the hands of Virginia, but Arizona State successfully improved their home record to 8-1 on the year, defeating the Crimson 56-46. Senior forward Shaquielle McKissic led the way for the Sun Devils with 13 points, and senior guard Wesley Saunders scored 15 for Harvard.
Starting out as a defensive affair, the Sun Devils got their first bucket with about 16 minutes left in the first half. ASU tried to work the low-post early on, but Harvard was prepared for sophomore forward Savon Goodman and junior center Eric Jacobsen, recording six first-half blocks.
Thanks to a late 10-2 run by the Sun Devils, including a thundering two-handed dunk from McKissic, ASU found themselves bouncing back from their slow shooting start, leading Harvard at halftime 34-28. Junior guard Roosevelt Scott had eight points and five rebounds at halftime, both team-highs. Harvard’s Saunders had 13 points at half.
Other than the four-point play by Harvard sophomore guard Corbin Miller, ASU picked up right where they left off, making three of their first five shots, one of those being yet another rim-rocking throw down from McKissic on the fast break.
Although the Sun Devils allowed Harvard to hang around for most of the game, a big key to them not relinquishing their second half lead was thanks to Scott’s defense on Saunders. After a 13-point first half, Saunders only made one shot in the second half.
ASU’s lead was extended to nine points thanks to an alley-oop dunk for Goodman assisted by Blakes on the fast break, and from that point on, it was a coast to the finish line.
Player of the game: Roosevelt Scott
Scott finished with 10 points and 6 rebounds for the Sun Devils, providing a noticeable spark on the offensive end, but where Scott really earned himself player of the game was on the defensive end. He held the prolific Saunders to two points in the second half, forcing Harvard to find scoring from someone else.
Stat of the game: 34 points in the paint
Of the four players in double figures for the Sun Devils, there were only three three-pointers made. There have been points in the year where ASU settles for the jumper, but that rarely happened today and almost everyone looked to attack the basket as much as possible.
Biggest Concern: Three bench points
Although Sendek didn’t go to his bench very often this game, having only three points off the bench is very uncharacteristic of this team. This included no points for seniors Jonathan Gilling and Bo Barnes, who regularly provide an offensive spark with their shooting from three-point range.
ASU plays its first Pac-12 game versus the University of Arizona on Sunday, January 4th, in Tucson.