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.