Evan Gordon made five of six free throws in overtime and despite coughing up an eight-point lead in the last 1:10 of regulation, the Arizona State Sun Devils outlasted Stanford 89-88 in the opener of the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas Wednesday.
Gordon hit two free tosses to put the Devils up 77-69 with 70 seconds left. That’s when Stanford guard Aaron Bright took over. The junior guard hit a three-pointer five seconds later to close the gap to five points. Then Gordon missed the front end of a one-and-one and Josh Huestis hit a three-pointer with :57 left to pull the Cardinal within two.
ASU’s Jonathan Gilling hit a pair of free tosses to stretch the lead back to four. But Stanford wasn’t done as Bright hit a contested three and was fouled by Gilling. Bright hit the free throw to tie the score at 79-79.
Jahii Carson, who had a career-high 34 points, missed a last-second three-pointer and the game went to overtime.
Carson scored ASU’s first five points of the extra period and then Gordon iced it at the free throw line to give the Sun Devils the win which helps them snap a four-game losing streak.
Carson was outstanding again, but unlike recent games, he got a lot of help.
Carrick Felix had 19 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, while Gordon had 16 and Gilling 14 for ASU (19-11).
The Sun Devils played with tremendous energy despite Herb Sendek using an extremely tight rotation.
Arizona State played small nearly the entire game, and the strategy worked against the bigger Cardinal. Jordan Bachynski started but played only eight minutes, while reserve guard Bo Barnes played five minutes off the bench.
Did we mention ASU coughed up an eight-point lead with 1:10 to play?
Stat of the Game:
Stanford came into the Pac-12 Tournament averaging 20.8 free throw attempts per game. They shot one against ASU — Bright’s free throw that completed a four-point play and sent the game to overtime.
He Said It:
“We were just playing ‘small ball’ — every time a defender switched off, everybody was undersized. So you just kind of fight for your feet and fight for your team.” — ASU guard Evan Gordon.
• Bright’s 27 points were a season-high. His career high is 29, scored against Illinois State during last year’s NIT Tournament, which Stanford won.
• Felix’s double-double was his 13th of the season.
• ASU had been just 5-14 in conference tournament play before Wednesday’s win.
• The Sun Devils are now 4-1 in overtime games in 2012-13 with wins over Utah, USC, Colorado and Stanford and a loss at UCLA.
The Sun Devils move on to the second round of the Pac-12 Tournament to face UCLA Thursday afternoon at 12:07 p.m. The two teams split their meetings this season with ASU winning 78-60 in Tempe January 26, and the Bruins bouncing back for a home 79-74 overtime win at Pauley Pavilion in February.
The game can be heard on Arizona Sports 620 with Tim Healey and Kyle Dodd on the call.