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Tra Holder helps Arizona State hold off Stephen F. Austin

Arizona State guard Tra Holder (0) reacts after scoring against North Carolina State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Legends Classic semifinal Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, in New York. Arizona State defeated North Carolina State 79-76. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Tra Holder scored 18 points and hit two free throws with 24.6 seconds left to help Arizona State hold off Stephen F. Austin 80-73 on Tuesday for its third straight win.

Willie Atwood also scored 18 points and Gerry Blakes added 14 points and a key 3-pointer for the Sun Devils (8-3), who nearly blew a 12-point second-half lead before securing their fifth win in six games.

Clide Geffrard scored 20 points for the Lumberjacks (7-4), and his three-point play with 1:06 left cut the deficit to 73-70.

SFA got the ball back, but Trey Pinkney missed a running layup. Holder was then fouled and hit both free throws.

Atwood and Geffrard were assessed technical fouls and a Stephen F. Austin bench player was ejected following a brief scuffle in the closing seconds.

Thomas Walkup added 18 points and Demetrious Floyd scored 13 for the Lumberjacks, who fell to 1-10 against Pac-12 schools.

Blake drilled a 3 from the right wing to beat the shot clock with 3:09 left to put Arizona State ahead 70-62.

But Stephen F. Austin entered on a five-game winning streak and was hardly intimidated, with four starters returning from last season’s team that lost a narrow game to Utah in the NCAA tournament. A year earlier, the Southland Conference school won 32 games and upset Virginia Commonwealth in the NCAAs.

Playing in front of a sleepy and small mid-week afternoon crowd, the Lumberjacks used their gambling defense and Geffrard’s 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range in the first half kept it close even as they struggled to rebound.
Obinna Oleka’s inside work helped Arizona State shoot 53 percent from the field in building a 41-34 halftime lead.

Holder’s three-point play, 3-pointer and reverse layup to start the second half put Arizona State ahead 50-38. But SFA responded, pounding it inside to Walkup as it cut the lead to 65-62 on T.J. Holyfield’s layup with 5:27 left.

The Lumberjacks were twice called for traveling on ensuing possessions while trailing by three.



Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks forced 17 turnovers. They entered having forced 20 or more in five straight games. . SFA had been 17-0 in December in coach Brad Underwood’s three seasons. . The Lumberjacks lost their previous meeting to Arizona State 92-61 in the 2001-02 season.

Arizona State: It was the second straight game against the Southland Conference. The Sun Devils beat Houston Baptist 98-79 on Saturday. . The Sun Devils took 19 more free throws than SFA, making 22 of 30.


Savon Goodman, the Sun Devils’ second-leading scorer at 12.4 points a game, missed his third straight game for what the school is calling “personal


Stephen F. Austin: Dec. 29 at UAB.

Arizona State: Home Monday vs. Cal State Bakersfield.

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