"I think Richmond is an outstanding basketball team," stated ASU head coach Herb Sendek. "They have excellent point guard play, they have good balance inside and out, they shoot the ball exceptionally well, they are experienced, and they know how to win."
Richmond (7-2) was in control for the entire first half frustrating the hosts on defense while finding pay dirt on offense both in the paint and beyond the arc. Arizona State(3-4) played 11 players in that period but the Sun Devils could never turn the tide in their favor. A three-pointer by Justin Harper who led all players with 23 points gave the visitors at 17-10 edge with just 11 minutes left. Trent Lockett and a couple long range baskets by Rihards Kuksiks allowed ASU to cut the deficit to 31-28 at halftime.
The second stanza began on a more positive note for ASU as McMillan scored five quick points and along with an offensive explosion by Kyle Cain (11 points in the second half) the Sun Devils grabbed a 47-44 advantage with 10:16 remaining in the contest. Despite continued sharp shooting by Kuksiks not only did the maroon and gold fail in expanding their lead, but allowed the Spiders to reclaim it and hold onto their advantage until the final buzzer.
"I thought we tried to do a couple of things," Mooney commented. "It's very difficult to play a team that is so committed to playing the zone the whole time. We didn't want to get bogged down with too many plays and too many different things we were going to try. So we wanted to try to play but have a couple things.
"I thought we got into a pretty good rhythm. We got a couple good transition baskets, which helps you because you're not so worried about just your shooting, and then we were able to get in the lane. We talked about trying to get into the lane, get along the baseline, and 26 points in the paint, we don't emphasize statistics all that much at our program, but I imagine that's a pretty good number against a zone team."
Cain and Kuksiks each had 14 points for ASU. Lockett and Trent Abbott posted 12 and 11 points respectively with the former pacing both teams with ten rebounds. McMillan had five assists. Richmond blocked nine shots, six by Darrius Garrett but trailed ASU on the boards 35 to 35. Both teams were poor from the charity stripe: the Spiders were 10 of 19 and the Sun Devils were 16 out of 23.
"From our stand point we didn't capitalize on some opportunities to put the ball in the basket," Sendek acknowledged. "We're a team right now that doesn't play with a very wide margin for error and we have to capitalize at a higher rate than we did today. In terms of making plays, converting opportunities that we had."
The Sun Devils return to action to host Grander-Webb Saturday at Noon trying to halt thier three-game losing skid this year.