Another night, another series of late-game mistakes, another disappointing result.
Such is life for Stanford men’s basketball, whose spin cycle continued against Arizona State on Thursday night. The Sun Devils pushed the Cardinal deeper into the vortex, blowing out to a large halftime lead, then holding on for the 67-62 win in Tempe.
Stanford (18-11, 9-8; RPI #56) was led by 16 points apiece from Chasson Randle and Stefan Nastic, with Anthony Brown adding 13 more. The Cardinal could not pull off the season sweep of Arizona State (16-14, 8-9; RPI #93), which was led by 23 points from Shaquielle McKissic.
The loss by Stanford is its sixth in nine games, and also likely pins any Cardinal NCAA Tournament hopes squarely on winning the Pac-12 Tournament.
Down by 14 at halftime, the Cardinal clawed back to tie the game midway through the second half. Randle started the comeback with a three-pointer (his first field goal of the night), while Nastic, Reid Travis, and Marcus Allen also chipped in with big buckets. Defensively, Stanford forced Arizona State into a series of critical turnovers. When Anthony Brown’s three-pointer fell through with 10:38 to go, the game was tied at 47.
But the Card never took the lead. And once again, they were doomed by a series of miscues in the final minutes. With 1:41 left and the Cardinal down 60-54, Randle was whistled for a critical travel. Down 60-57, Stanford forced an ASU shot clock violation with 38 seconds to go, but Marcus Allen’s cross-court pass to Brown along the baseline was intercepted four seconds later. Then, Nastic lost the ball on the dribble with 22 seconds left, removing Stanford’s last hope.
The Cardinal committed 17 turnovers. Arizona State’s frontline was in severe foul trouble through much of the second half, but Nastic took only nine shots all night. And Randle missed two free throws in the second half, perhaps with a special assist by ASU’s famous Curtain of Distraction.
Adding injury to insult, Michael Humphrey turned an ankle while guarding Tra Holder’s layup just four minutes into the game and did not return. Reports after the game had Humphrey leaving the Stanford locker room on crutches and with his right ankle wrapped.
Arizona State seized control late in the first half. A jumper from Nastic tied the game at 21 with 4:37 remaining. From there, the Sun Devils closed the half with a 16-2 run. With Michael Humphrey out and Chasson Randle on the bench for the final 6:35 (foul trouble), Arizona State took full advantage.
Savon Goodman scored on a drive, a tip dunk, and a finger roll. Tra Holder hit a big three. Seconds later, Shaquielle McKissic took a bounce pass in transition from Holder and threw up a no-look, off-balance prayer of a shot. It went in. Of course. And McKissick was fouled by Anthony Brown. Of course. That sequence put Arizona State ahead by 12, and the Cardinal were down 37-23 at the half.
The Cardinal shot just under 30% for the first half. They missed 11 of their first 14 shots, many of them layups, and many of them second-chance opportunities. Ten first-half turnovers doomed Stanford, too.
Stanford’s regular season wraps against the Pac-12’s regular season champs. Arizona (27-3, 15-2; AP #5) sewed up that distinction with a 99-60 beatdown of California on Thursday night. Brandon Ashley scored 21 points, while T.J. McConnell dished 11 assists. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson left the game with an apparent shoulder injury; during his postgame radio interview, Wildcats head coach Sean Miller only said Hollis-Jefferson was “OK.”********** ********** **********
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