Arizona State 89 - Stanford 88 (OT)
LAS VEGAS – The MGM Garden Arena is used to close, heavyweight fights. The venerable arena saw another one on Wednesday as Arizona State opened the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament with a 89-88 overtime win over Stanford.
“In a lot of ways, this game typified our season,” coach Herb Sendek said. “I’m really proud of our guys for how they bounced back in overtime.”
Stanford (18-14) trailed most of the game but used a 7-2 run over the final 1:03 of the second half to force overtime, thanks in large part to Aaron Bright. The junior guard tied a school record for three pointers in a game but none was bigger than his final one - with 41 seconds left he hit the shot, falling away while being fouled by ASU’s Jonathan Gilling.
Bright nailed the free throw that tied it at 79-all and sent the teams into overtime.
“We’ve been in a lot of close games and that’s a good thing,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “But we have to learn how to close those games.”
Stanford briefly took the lead in the extra frame but Pac-12 co-Freshman of the Year Jahii Carson nailed a three to give Arizona State the lead. He followed it up on the next trip down the floor with a driving layup to keep the team’s lead at three. Carson paced the Sun Devils (21-11) with 34 points to fall just short of a school record for points in a game by a freshman.
Evan Gordon hit five of six free throws to close out the game, which ended when Stanford’s Josh Huestis nailed a three before the buzzer.
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Overall, Arizona State, which shot free throws at a 62.2 percent clip during the season, was 14-17 from the line. The Cardinal, meanwhile, shot only one free throw attempt the entire game, a Pac-12 Tournament record.
“In a one-point game that becomes pretty significant,” Dawkins said of the free throw disparity. “Unfortunately we didn’t come through to get to the free throw line.”
It was the Cardinal’s fifth loss by three points or fewer. The Sun Devils will play UCLA in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals Thursday at 12 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Networks.
Game Photos (Eric Evans Photography):