(Photo courtesy ASU Athletics)
Arizona State (11-2) faltered early but made a push late in the first half to widen the lead over the University of California, Irvine (7-7). The Sun Devils then survived a scare late in the second half to defeat the Anteaters 74-61 Saturday afternoon in Tempe.
While ASU had a comfortable double-digit lead most of the afternoon, with four minutes left to play, UCI had brought the ASU lead down to six points.
After trading two more buckets, Jonathan Gilling hit a three with two minutes and eight seconds remaining followed by a Shaquielle McKissic layup on which he was fouled. McKissic converted the free throw to put ASU up 68-56 with just a minute and forty seconds left to play which was too much for UCI to overcome.
McKissic led all scorers with 18 points, four rebounds and three assists. Jahii Carson picked up 16 points of his own with two rebounds as well. Jermaine Marshall and Gilling added 13 and ten points to the winning effort respectively while Egor Koulechov scored eight points which accounted for all of the ASU bench points.
ASU got off to a slow start down 6-2 early thanks to six straight points by Will Davis II and didn’t make it into double digit points until eight minutes and 46 seconds left in the first half. The Sun Devils only made one of their first ten shots and missed the first six from behind the arc.
The Anteaters held a 13-9 lead at the nine minute mark in the first half when the Sun Devils went on a 23-8 run to give ASU a 35-23 lead headed into halftime.
ASU came out strong in the second half widening the lead to 15 points with 12 minutes to play thanks to aggressiveness from Carson and McKissic. Although the lead dwindled late, ball movement and a 71 percent conversion rate from the free throw line helped the Sun Devils seal the win.
The Sun Devils were out rebounded 44-34 but won the turnover battle only losing possession 11 times compared to 19 for UCI. Will Davis II recorded a double double with 14 points and ten rebounds in the loss for the Anteaters. ASU starts conference play in their next game at Wells Fargo Arena on Thursday, Jan. 2at 6 p.m.
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