It was Colorado Buffaloes guard Askia Booker’s Senior Night, and boy, did he let everyone know it.
He hit his career high at home with 29 points, 10 of which came from the free throw line on 11 attempts in Colorado’s win over Arizona State Sunday night, 87-81.
Booker also jawed the night away to just about everyone on the court, including ASU guard Gerry Blakes and head coach Herb Sendek and was T-ed up once and reprimanded by the referees again even after the foul.
Arizona State’s Shaq McKissic led the Sun Devils (15-14, 7-9) with 18 points and Tra Holder had 14, but still the team couldn’t outscore Booker and Colorado’s 68 percent second-half shooting.
Several Sun Devils got in foul trouble early on, and Eric Jacobsen fouled out as the final period ticked away — unfortunate for ASU as all of his 12 points had come in the second period. Holder, Savon Goodman and Blakes finished with four fouls apiece.
Colorado sent the Sun Devils on enough trips to the charity stripe to give them a shot at pulling ahead for good, but ASU missed crucial opportunities for free points — 16 total — in the six-point loss in Boulder.
And even though ASU came back from a nine-point deficit three times throughout, a huge putback by Colorado’s Josh Scott off a missed free throw to put the Buffs up 84-79 with just seconds remaining helped decide the game.
What did the Sun Devils’ second-straight loss look like by the numbers?
In as close a game as theirs, the Sun Devils couldn’t afford to miss free throws.
Yet, just as they’ve been plagued all season by a case of the clunkers while at the line, they missed 14 free throw attempts Sunday (nine of which came in the tight second period) and hit just 25-of-49 (64 percent) throughout.
While Colorado shot 76 percent from the free-throw line, they had the same number of makes as Arizona State with 25.
Twelve of Holder’s 14 points were at the free throw line — he only hit one field goal in seven attempts.
There were 56 personal fouls called on either side (ASU 27, Colorado 29) and one technical foul handed to Booker for taunting Blakes after he hit a shot.
Ski: You can thank Gerry Blakes for that performance, he started running his mouth about an hour before the game. I took it real personal.
— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) March 2, 2015
Blakes was then tasked with shooting the two free throws after Booker’s technical — and he missed both.
Colorado’s sharp shooting, especially in the second period, also contributed to the Devils’ downfall.
The Buffs shot 68 percent in the final half and 59 percent total. It was their second-highest shooting percentage in a game since joining the Pac-12.
Arizona State now has to win its next two games to hit .500 in conference play.
The Sun Devils will play their last two regular-season games at home, first against Stanford on March 5 at 9 p.m. and the second against Cal on March 7 at 12:30 p.m.