ASU rebounds with Victory Over Colgate

Following two consecutive losses where ASU failed to execute down the stretch, the Sun Devils were naturally seeking a win in their next game to get back on track. In that sense, a veteran and disciplined Colgate team wasn’t exactly what the doctor had ordered. Yet, the Sun Devils overcame some defensive lapses to hold off a pesky opponent and win 78-71 on Saturday night.

“We have to become a better defensive team for 40 minutes,” said Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek. “We have gotten off to pretty good starts but inexplicably there have been stretches like the start of the second half tonight where our defense escapes and we pay dearly for that when it happens.”

To Sendek’s point, the Sun Devils (4-2) had a 17-10 lead at the 10:43 mark but with 5:16 left in the half were tied at 24-24. Behind the play of Shaquille McKissic who scored 14 points in the first half, as well as a surprise contribution by reserve Sai Tummala who chipped in with five points, ASU ended the period on a 19-6 run and went to the locker room with a commanding 43-30 advantage.

While ASU never relinquished the lead in the second half, it was never able to create a comfortable distance with their advantage. The Sun Devils committed eight turnovers which led to 13 points by the Raiders, who also shot 6-10 from three-point range during this period.

Gerry Blakes may have been responsible for half of the turnovers the Sun Devils committed in the second half, but negated that with 15 points of his team-high 23 points, scored in the last twenty minutes to prevent a comeback victory by the visitors.

“We did a great job standing together,” Blakes stated. “They gave us a battle. We definitely needed this win to get us back on the winning track, and it meant everything to us to get this win. No matter how close it was, I’m just glad we got the win.”

ASU shot 54.3 percent from the field and edged Colgate on the boards 28-26. Tra Holder was the third ASU player in double figures with 11 points, eight of them posted in the second half.

A team full of newcomers, such as Arizona State, is naturally learning the rigors of playing at the highest level of college basketball, and even if the lessons learned are at times harsh by nature, Sendek is happy that they are presenting themselves this early in the season.

“I think one thing our schedule is affording us is the ability to have very early honest feedback about our team,” Sendek said. “Our schedule is a bear and when you try and incorporate so many players, including two freshmen point guards – it is an unforgiving schedule.

“The schedule will help the learning curve with our new players, although it can be humbling at times.”

Next up for the Sun Devils is a home game versus UNLV Wednesday at 6 p.m. Sendek was hopeful that Kodi Justice (back spasms) and Roosevelt Scott (family reasons) who were not available Saturday night would play in that contest.

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