TEMPE, Arizona — Tra Holder shook off foul trouble to score a career-high 23 points, hitting three 3-pointers in a decisive second-half spurt, and Arizona State closed its non-conference schedule with a 75-59 victory over Cal State Bakersfield on Monday night.
The Sun Devils (10-3) trailed by a point early in the second half and were tied when Holder got hot in a 14-6 run to make it 54-46. Gerry Blakes added 15 points to give first-year coach Bobby Hurley his fourth straight win.
Aly Ahmed scored 19 points and Jaylin Airington added 12 for the Roadrunners (8-5), who kept it close for much of the night by outmuscling Arizona State inside. Bakersfield held a 46-29 rebounding edge, but shot 37 percent from the field.
Arizona State opens Pac-12 play on Sunday at home against No. 8 Arizona.
The Sun Devils will have to play better to have a chance against the Wildcats.
Ahmed, a senior from Egypt, scored on a variety of post moves, putbacks and short jumpers while outworking the Sun Devils in the paint. Eric Jacobsen, assigned to guard Ahmed, had four fouls before the second half was two minutes old.
Holder had three fouls early in the second half, but when he returned from the bench he provided the spark Arizona State needed.
Andre Spight (10 points) finally put it away with a four-point play with just over two minutes left to make it 65-55.
The win ended an emotional week for Hurley. Minutes after the Dec. 22 win over Stephen F. Austin, Hurley’s wife told him her father had died as he prepared to travel to Arizona for the holidays. Hurley made two trips to New Jersey for the services and missed Sunday’s practice.
Cal State Bakersfield: A year ago to the day, the Roadrunners won at California 55-52 for the school’s only victory over a Pac-12 school. . Kevin Mays had 10 rebounds. . Bakersfield first-year assistant James Alford played football at Arizona and was a graduate assistant football coach with the Wildcats and LSU.
Arizona State: Hurley picked up his second technical foul of the season early in the second half. . Assistant Levi Watkins ran practice Sunday in Hurley’s absence. . Jacobsen had to be treated for a turned ankle and a bloody nose in the first half, but returned both times.
STILL NO GOODMAN
Sun Devils guard Savon Goodman, averaging 12.4 points and 7.9 rebounds, was seen in street clothes at the arena before missing his fourth straight game for what the school has called “personal reasons.”
Cal State Bakersfield hosts Morgan State on Thursday.
Arizona State hosts Arizona on Sunday, marking the second straight year the conference opener is against the in-state rival.