Red Storm's pressure drops Devils

The full court defensive pressure St. John's applied Saturday night against ASU was fairly consistent for 40 minutes, but the outcome didn't always follow. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, the Red Storm's game plan was much more effective in the second half than the first as they captured the Great Alaska Shootout tournament championship with 67-58 win over Arizona State.

The first 20 minutes couldn't have unfolded better for Arizona State (3-2). Ty Abbott hit four three-point baskets; reserve Jordan Bachynski was impressive with a couple of dunks and more importantly the Sun Devils held St. John's (4-1) to just under 26 percent shooting. The maroon and gold held their own on the boards against a longer Red Storm team and marched to a 30-20 halftime lead.

ASU committing six turnovers in the first half was ultimately a prelude to the effectiveness of St. John's full court pressure, as the Sun Devils recorded ten turnovers in the second stanza. The turning point of the game started to occur with 6:02 remaining in the contest.

With ASU leading 51-45, St. John's missed the back end of two free throws, but was able to box out, grab the rebound, get fouled, again make one of two free throws missing the second of those attempts but securing the rebound and scoring on that possession. Rihards Kuksiks lost the ball attempting to in bound it leading to another Red Storm basket who also scored on the ensuing possession after a Keala King turnover.

All in all, in a span of just 32 seconds elapsed on the game clock St. John's outscored ASU 8-0 and reclaimed the lead for good 53-51. The Sun Devils would score just seven points the rest of the game repeatedly succumbing to the Red Storm's pressure.

Abbott led all players on the floor with 22 points, shooting 6 of 12 beyond the arc. Trent Lockett was the only other Sun Devil in double figures with 10 points and paced his team with seven rebounds. Jamelle McMillan had a game-high seven assists.

St. John's shot a scorching 64 percent (16 of 25) from the field in the second half including 5 of 8 from beyond the arc and outscored ASU 47-28 in the second half. They did get slightly out rebounded by ASU 28-26 but had ten offensive caroms, as well as 10 steals and four blocks on the night. The Red Storm were led by Justin Brownlee who recorded 20 points.

A challenging non-conference slate continues for ASU with a visit to 12th ranked Baylor on Thursday evening. Needless to say that the Sun Devils aren't entering this contest with momentum on their side and have generally not had a good showing in the Great Alaska Shootout. The contest against Baylor will definitely be a chance for redemption.

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