Holding a 12-point lead with 1:46 left in the first half, Arizona State was finally showing the confidence that eluded it through Pac-12 play this year.
But even with a strong 12-point lead, ASU junior forward Savon Goodman wasn’t ready to head into halftime without adding a little spark of his own.
Putting together a four-point run, Goodman electrified a tame Tempe crowd as he hammered home an alley-oop assist from senior guard Gerry Blakes with 24 seconds left in the first half.
"When you're locked in and you're in that moment, I can't help but to let my emotions come out in a positive way," Goodman said. "It all started with our defense and then (Blakes) just made a great pass."
Goodman’s dunk sent the Sun Devils invigorated with energy as they headed into the locker room for halftime en route to a 74-64 ASU victory over the Stanford Cardinal.
With the win ASU improves to 15-15 overall, 5-12 in the Pac-12 before its season finale against the No. 25-ranked California Bears Saturday night.
"I thought our effort was outstanding, especially in the first half," ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said. "I loved how we closed the half with the energy on defense."
With the loss, Stanford fell to 15-13 overall, 8-9. The Cardinal came into Tempe riding a two-game win-streak and winners of four out of their last five games.
The Sun Devils broke their four-game losing streak and notched their first victory since their win over then-No. 23 USC on Feb. 12 at Wells Fargo Arena.
Goodman led the Sun Devils in scoring with 16 points on 6 of 9 shooting from the field.
After scoring nine points off 3 of 5 shooting from the field – and knocking down 3 of 4 free-throws – in the first half, Goodman opened the second half 3 of 3 shooting from the field.
Goodman, along with the rest of the squad, pushed ASU’s lead to 21 points with 13:11 left in the second half and looked poised to blowout the Cardinal.
That is, until Stanford crawled its way back, cutting ASU's once 21-point lead to a mere eight points with 1:27 left in the second half. But as the seconds started to tick off the clock at Wells Fargo Arena, the Cardinal quickly realized time was not on their side as ASU started hitting its free throws -- 16 of 24 overall in the second half.
Continuing their flurry of three-pointers the past few games, the Sun Devils shot 7 of 14 from three-point range in the first half alone. At the end of the night, ASU cashed in 8 of 22 from behind the arc.
ASU was averaging 8.0 threes made per game coming into Thursday’s game, good for No. 1 in the Pac-12.
ASU senior center Eric Jacobsen was averaging 6.7 points per game before Thursday, and ended up scoring 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting from the field against Stanford.
"I'm definitely feeling a lot better," said Jacobsen, who suffered an ankle injury earlier in the year. "Between the (Arizona) and Utah game we had that week break and I was able to take a number of days off and that helped a lot. It's definitely not as sore as it's been throughout the season."
For the Cardinal, before playing ASU on Thursday, Stanford senior forward Rosco Allen was averaging a team-high 17.0 points in conference games – good for fifth in the Pac-12.
Against the Sun Devils, Allen was shut down, only tallying 14 points on 5 of 10 shooting from the field.
Leading the Cardinal were Stanford sophomore guards Dorian Pickens and sophomore forward Michael Humphrey, both Phoenix natives. Torching the Sun Devils early, scoring 19 points and 15 points respectively.
Pickens, along with other Phoenix native, were averaging a combined 28.8 points per game in Stanford’s last four wins in its last five games.
But with Pickens the only Cardinal player to hit seven or more field goals, Stanford was unable to get anything going and build back a comeback in the second half.
Both the Cardinal and the Sun Devils started slow, shooting a combined 1 of 8 from the field. ASU was 2 of 12 to start the night.
But by halftime, the Sun Devils built up a 15-point lead, 37-22, after hitting 5 of their final 7 shots to end the first half. ASU ended the first half shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 50 percent from behind the arc.
Struggling against Stanford’s early zone, the Sun Devils failed to score in the paint or recover any offensive rebounds.
But as ASU started to break down the zone and the Cardinal got sloppy – turning the ball over 10 times in the first half alone – the Sun Devils took advantage with quick, sharp passes into the post. In addition to breaking down the zone, ASU recorded 25 points off Stanford’s 15 turnovers and grabbed down 15 offensive rebounds compared to Stanford’s five.
“We got defensive stops. It’s pretty simple,” Goodman said. “When we do that and we out-rebound teams, we have a pretty good chance of winning, and we did that today.”
The Sun Devils ended the game shooting 42.6 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from three-point range.