LAS VEGAS – The Arizona State University men’s basketball team was upset in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament on Thursday, falling to Stanford, 79-58.
For the Sun Devils (21-11), the storyline of the game proved to be their inability to find any kind of rhythm on offense as they shot 40 percent from the floor. Inevitably, their offensive struggles would affect their performance on defense as Stanford (21-11) connected on 55 percent of its shots.
“On a night where we had some guys struggling offensively, we didn’t do enough to give ourselves a chance defensively,” said ASU head coach Herb Sendek. “There were so many chances we had on offense that we didn’t convert, and you could see that carry over to the defensive side of the ball.
“Against a team like Stanford, you have to do better. It all started from the first possession of the game where we had the ball two feet from the basket and didn’t score.”
The Sun Devils, who recorded a third-place regular season league finish in what has been one of the most competitive conferences in the country this season, were led by Jonathan Gilling, who had 13 points. Shaquielle McKissic (12 points, 4-5 FGs, five assists and four rebounds), Bo Barnes (12 points, 5-8 FGs) and Jahii Carson (10 points, four assists) also posted double-digit scoring efforts for ASU.
Chasson Randle’s 21 points paced the Cardinal, who had four players score in double figures.
Stanford jumped out to a 9-0 lead as the Sun Devils misfired on their first six shots of the game.
Two layups by Barnes and a pair of free throws from both Gilling and Jordan Bachynski helped the Sun Devils get their offense going as ASU played the Cardinal on near-even terms over the next five minutes.
Stanford would lead by as many as 10 on two different occasions in the first half before the Sun Devils came storming back. After falling behind 25-18, ASU used a pair of 3-pointers (Gilling and Barnes) over a 41-second stretch to pull within a single point.
A layup by Randle provided an answer to ASU’s 6-0 flurry, however Barnes would tie the game at 27-27 with his second triple of the half.
John Gage, who came off the bench to score eight points for Stanford, came right back with a 3-pointer on the opposite end to give the Cardinal a 30-27 lead at the half.
Gilling’s game-high fourth 3-pointer of the contest once again got ASU within one point less than a minute into the second half. Unfortunately for ASU, Gilling’s field goal was one of only three that the Sun Devils would make over the first eight minutes of the second stanza.
While ASU was struggling to find its shooting touch, the Cardinal came out and hit eight of its first 11 field goals to methodically build a 49-36 advantage with 12:53 remaining.
McKissic led one last serious run by the Sun Devils as he accounted for five points during a 7-2 ASU spurt which cut Stanford’s lead to 51-45 with just under nine minutes remaining.
Stanford would respond by scoring 21 of the game’s next 27 points over the ensuing five-plus minutes to take an insurmountable 72-51 lead with 3:46 left.
“(The slow start) was a factor, but we had cut the lead to three by halftime,” said Sendek. “Basketball is a game of runs, and we had our opportunities, but it got away from us at the end of the game.”