Lehigh Outlasts ASU in Triple Overtime

It hasn’t been a good week for the Arizona State men’s basketball team. After losing to Marquette on the road Tuesday night, the Sun Devils returned to Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday, falling to Lehigh 84-81 in triple overtime, snapping the team’s 14-game home win streak.

With the semester’s finals all done, winter break began last weekend for students at Arizona State. During the first half on Saturday, it looked like the men’s basketball team might have been on break as well. Unfortunately, a spirited second half effort was not enough as ASU ultimately fell short against Lehigh, losing 84-81 in triple overtime.

A lack of effort defensively and focus on offensive set the tone early on as Arizona State (6-5) struggled to get going in the first half against the Mountain Hawks. The Sun Devils shot just 10-22 from the floor and committed 13 first half turnovers as Lehigh (5-5) staked out to 32-24 halftime lead.

“I thought our team played like we were lacking in confidence in the first half,” said Arizona State Head Coach Herb Sendek afterwards. “We just didn’t have any rhythm. It seemed like were almost walking on egg shells. We had 24 first half points and 13 turnovers.

“And then defensively, we had given up some buckets that we shouldn’t have, especially some of their threes.”

The Mountain Hawks were paced by shooting guard Austin Price, who scored a team-high 18 points on 7-14 shooting. Price was one of four Lehigh players in double figures scoring as the Hawks used a balanced offensive effort to attack the Sun Devils on Saturday.

The Mountain Hawks extended their lead to as many as 14 in the early stages of the second half before the Sun Devils began to make their push, using an 11-0 run to trim the deficit to just three following a Jon Gilling three point basket with 9:42 to play.

After mixing and matching line-ups throughout the first half, Sendek and the Sun Devils settled on a line-up led by sophomore Chance Murray and junior college transfer Savon Goodman to claw their way back into it.

Goodman led all scorers with 24 points on 9-11 shooting while also leading the team with 12 rebounds, giving him his first career double-double. Murray added 17 points and four assists off the bench while orchestrating the Sun Devil offense.

“We were really struggling at the point guard position,” said Sendek. “It’s been a point guard by committee proposition so far this season. Once we found that core group that allowed us to come back in the game and were playing fairly well together, we just decided to stay with them.”

Murray was finally able to even things at 61 with his driving kiss off the glass with two minutes remaining in the second half, helping ASU eventually force the game into extra periods.

However, after coming up short on a number of potential game winners, including three Murray misses at the buzzer, the Sun Devils ran out of gas in the third overtime period, ending their 14-game winning streak at Wells Fargo Arena and giving Lehigh its first win over a Pac-12 team.

“We got that core group going and I thought our guys showed good fight to come back in the game and had a number of chances to win it and either didn’t make free throws or didn’t make shots and in some cases, didn’t come up with a big enough stop,” said Sendek.

The Mountain Hawks became just the second team this season to out-rebound the Sun Devils, winning the battle on the glass 48-40. Forward Justin Goldsborough recorded 10 points and 13 rebounds in the win for Lehigh while Valley native Tim Kempton, who starred at Brophy College Prep, added 16 points and 11 rebounds in his homecoming before fouling out in overtime.

“You’ve got to give Lehigh a lot of credit,” said Sendek. “We knew coming in that they’re a good team. They took Villanova to the wall. They had a good win at DePaul. A few years ago they beat Duke in the first round of the tournament. We knew we had a challenge tonight and we did not step up to get over it.”

For the game, the Sun Devils shot just 43% from the floor (30-70) and an abysmal 15-29 from the free throw line.

Forward Shaquille McKissic added 13 points and nine rebounds while Jon Gilling scored 11 points off the bench.

Next up for the Sun Devils is a Tuesday afternoon matinee against Detroit at 1:00 PM. ASU will conclude its non-conference schedule next Sunday against Harvard before traveling to face Arizona in Tucson.

“We’re not concerned,” said Goodman when asked about the team’s two-game losing skid. “We have group of guys that come out here and work hard. It’s teams around the country who are losing games they shouldn’t be. This one we should have won because we were at home against Lehigh.

“I felt like we came and could have had that game. We’ve just got to get back to it tomorrow. Get back to the lab, watch film and try to learn from it and we’ve got to get ready for our next game.”

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