Marshall Propels Sun Devils Past Cougars

They say all good shooters must have short memories. Fortunately for Arizona State, Jermaine Marshall does. Just three days after struggling mightily in his Pac-12 debut against Washington, Marshall re-gained his outside shooting touch, scoring 26 points guiding the Sun Devils to their first conference win of the season, a 66-47 home victory over Washington State.

After being limited to just four points on 2-11 shooting in 27 minutes against the Huskies on Thursday, Marshall was anxious for a chance at redemption. With the Sun Devils (12-3, 1-1 Pac-12) clinging to a 33-31 lead over Washington State (7-7, 0-2) with 17:09 remaining in the second half, he couldn't have picked a more perfect time to erupt.

Thanks to an 18-2 run in the second half, Arizona State was able to pull away from the Cougars with Marshall leading the charge, as the senior scored 16 of his game-high 26 points during the stretch to propel the Sun Devils.

"It was great. It's what I work hard for," said Marshall afterwards. "I try to get in the gym and coach does a great job of keeping us after practice and getting up shots, so it just shows that hard work pays off.

"My teammates, I think they did a great job of finding me when I was open. Coach talked about that, getting the ball to the open guy and fortunately I was the open guy and was able to make the shots."

While Marshall fell just one point shy of equaling his season-high and four points shy of a new career-high, he provided more than enough for the Sun Devils on Sunday, finishing 9-14 from the field and 4-7 from deep, to go along with four rebounds in the win.

"You need some guys, maybe three guys at minimum, who can consistently score and Jermaine is one of these guys for us," remarked Head Coach Herb Sendek. "Throughout his career, Jermaine has demonstrated the ability to score. He finds ways to get buckets and when he's doing that, our team, you know, without showing off the obvious here, we're a lot better."

For a third consecutive game, Arizona State started out slow at home, opening up just 3-11 from the field and with 11 first half turnovers. An 8-0 run, capped by a Marshall three pointer, put the Sun Devils ahead 18-9 with 9:15 to play, but the Cougars refused to go away, finishing the first half on a 9-2 run to trim ASU's lead to just four at the break.

Washington State guard Que Johnson kept the Cougars close to start the second half, scoring eight of his team-high 18 points early on to make it a two point game.

But after picking up his third personal foul of the game, Marshall took command.

"In that timeout, when I got my third foul, I just told myself to relax," he said. "I feel like I got the third foul because I tried to make the play too sudden and reached and going into the huddle I just told myself to relax and I think that helped me."

Pacing Marshall's scoring fury was senior forward Shaquielle McKissic, who, in his fourth straight start for the Sun Devils, finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Since re-joining the starting line-up, McKissic has averaged 12 points, 5.5 rebounds and three assists while only committing two total turnovers, providing Arizona State with yet another versatile and reliable weapon to its arsenal.

"I do think that as he gets more comfortable and more experience in terms of playing, Shaquielle is giving us more of what Carrick (Felix) gave us last year," added Sendek. "I'm not saying he's the same or comparing them, but the void that was created when Carrick left, I think, is continuing to be filled as Shaquielle improves and gets more comfortable.

"He's had a really good month. If you go back to our game at DePaul where he had a double-double, almost without exception he's been very steady and consistent. And it's not just offensively, but his rebound numbers are up and his defense has been pretty good."

Sophomore point guard Jahii Carson added 14 points, four rebounds and three assists for the Sun Devils, who despite shooting only 42% from the field, connected on 9-20 three point attempts and 15-18 from the free throw line.

Just eight days after undergoing an appendectomy, Washington State's leading scorer, DaVonte Lacy, re-joined the Cougars after missing the team's previous two games. The junior finished with four points in 11 minutes but was forced to sit out the entire second half.

Arizona State will hit the road next week to take on USC at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Thursday, January 9th. It'll mark the first of three road games for the Sun Devils, who will also visit UCLA next week before their showdown with top-ranked Arizona in Tucson.

"You look at our league right now and, I mean, it's incredibly challenging," said Sendek. "And now we've got to go on the road for three straight and it's unforgiving in that way, so you've just got to stay in the moment as best as you can, take them one at a time and what I told our guys afterwards is we just have to continue to desperately try to get bettering little ways, each and every one of us, in every way we can."

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