ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Arizona State basketball team thought it would do better than it did at the Wooden Legacy, played in Southern California this weekend.
The Sun Devils started the week off with an upset win over No. 25 Marquette and arrived in Orange County riding a wave of momentum.
Instead, Arizona State dropped two of three games, the last one coming in the form of a 60-57 setback to Miami, Sunday afternoon at Honda Center.
The Sun Devils led by 10 points in the first half, and eight in the second. They even found themselves in position to win Sunday’s game in the closing seconds.
Instead, they fell to 7-2, with both losses coming in the tournament.
“I’m not pleased with the end result,” Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said. “The tournament was a good kick in our butt. Coming up here and losing 2 of 3, we’ll have to go back and return to work.”
Miami’s win over Arizona State was more about overcoming an early deficit, the Sun Devils’ height advantage, and continuing to work on finding the right personnel combinations.
“I thought that was the best we’ve played on the best ends of the floor and that was the best we’ve shot the ball,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “Obviously that makes a huge difference. We shared the ball and that’s more the style that we want to play.”
The payoff finally came for the Hurricanes when Rion Brown’s slam dunk with 33 seconds remaining in game, gave the Hurricanes the lead for good.
Miami didn’t take its first lead of the game until 6:28 remained on a jump shot by Garrius Adams.
Arizona State was clinging to a 57-56 lead with 1:56 left but missed key layups down the stretch.
James Kelly tied the score at 57 with a free throw, and the Hurricanes got the ball back when Arizona State guard Jahii Carson missed a layup.
Kelly grabbed the rebound and fired an outlet pass to Brown, who had gotten behind the defense. His got to the basket uncontested and slammed the ball home.
“There have only been two games that we played that haven’t been down to the wire so we’ve become accustomed to it,” said guard Davon Reed, who led the Hurricanes with 19 points. “Facing that adversity is making us better as a team.”
The Sun Devils were trailing by two points with 11 second left on the clock when Carson went for another layup. This time it was blocked by Donnavan Kirk. The Sun Devils retained possession but Jermaine Marshall missed on a 3-point shot.
“I thought we had some opportunities to knock down open shots, including that three at the end, and we got to the free throw line some,” Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said. “You’ve got to credit Miami for playing outstanding defense. They did a good job in their zone.”
Miami got the ball back and increased their lead to three points on an Adams free throw with 2.6 seconds left. The Hurricanes sealed the win when Adams intercepted Arizona State’s last-chance, length-of-court inbound pass.
“I’m not pleased with the end result,” Sendek said. “The tournament was a good kick in our butt. Coming up here and losing 2 of 3, we’ll have to go back and return to work.”
The Hurricanes had trouble throughout most of the game because they weren’t able to match up well against Arizona State’s 7-foot-1 center Jordan Bachynski. Four inches taller than Miami’s tallest starter, Bachynski led all scorers with 20 points, most of which came on offensive rebounds and passes inside.
The Sun Devils also got outside help from Marshall, who hit 3 3-point shots and finished with 14 points.
The Hurricanes fell behind in the first half, thanks in part to Bachynski’s presence in the paint, and a 29 percent shooting clip from the field. They also hit just 14 of 21 free throws, making their comeback that much tougher.
“I think the biggest thing (Miami) did was they didn’t give up,” Bachynski said. “We were up the whole game and they just kept playing. They won a (conference) championship last year and they know how to win.”
By contrast, the Sun Devils had a better first half, hitting 5 of 11 shots from 3-point range. They were only 3 for 10 in the second.
“Our activity on defense was much better in the second half,” Larranaga said. “They’d been shooting so many threes, they were only 3 for 10 in the second half, we contested the three better.”
Arizona State’s overall field-goal percentage slipped after the break, going from 50 percent in the first half, to 31 in the second.
Miami climbed back into the game when Sendek gave Bachynski a breather. That opened up the lane for the Hurricanes, who were able to erase their deficit.
Reed led the Hurricanes with 19 points, while Kelly added 11. Adams finished with nine points and nine rebounds.