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Sun Devil Men's Hoops Falls in Final Minute, 66-65

Dec 19, 2021

By Marco Salas, Sun Devil Communications Student Intern
The Arizona State Men's basketball team went toe-to-toe with the San Francisco Dons (11-1) but lost in a tough one 66-65 Sunday night in a tight contest that saw over six lead changes in the final minutes.
Leading the charge for the Sun Devils were the trio of Kamani Lawrence, Jay Heath, and DJ Horne who had 18,18 and 15 points, respectively. Lawrence and Heath both notched a double-double with Lawrence having 18 points and 10 rebounds while Heath had 18 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
The Sun Devils had a season-high 71 field goal attempts, matched a season-high with 46 rebounds and caused 21 turnovers, led by a season-high 14 steals.

22 vs. Washington (2/23/21)
21 vs. Washington (2/25/21)
22 vs. #22 Mississippi State (11/19/18)
19 vs. UC Riverside (11/13/21)19 vs. Portland (11/9/21)
18 vs. San Francisco (12/19/21)
18 at UCLA (2/20/21)
18 vs. Omaha (11/28/18)

18/10 vs. San Francisco (12/19/21)
14/14 vs. Grand Canyon (12/9/21)
11/13 vs. Syracuse (11/25/21)
14/12 at San Diego State (11/18/21)
19/12 vs. UC Riverside (11/11/21)
19/10 vs. Portland (11/9/21)
21/20 vs. Washington (2/25/21)
22/12 vs. Washington (2/23/21)

Action in the first half:

  • The Sun Devils started off hot courtesy of sophomore guard DJ Horne, who opened the game with two straight threes that sparked a 9-2 run putting the Sun Devils up 9-2.
  • After only having four points against Creighton, senior forward Kimani Lawrence put up 10 points in the first half. 
  • The defense was active causing ten turnovers alone in the first half.
  • The Sun Devils lived in the paint, both offensively and defensively, scoring 16 points in the paint and grabbing 21 rebounds.

Action in the second half:

  • Trailing 40-38, Lawrence tied the game off a put back layup with 16 minutes left in the game.
  • The Sun Devils retook the lead 56-5 by going on a 7-3 run with 5 minutes left in the game off a Lawrence lay-up.
  • The Sun Devils continued to dominate in the paint in the second half with 16 points in the paint.
  • Heath led the comeback attempt with 10 points in the second half, knocking crucial shots down the stretch.

Bobby Hurley and the squad finish their out-of-conference schedule with the Florida A&M Rattlers on Tuesday, December 21st at 3 p.m. The game can be viewed on the Pac-12 Network and will be available on the radio at 620 AM/98.7 FM HD-2 (KTAR-AM). 

"Well, I mean if you're a one-loss team at this point in the season you got to be a pretty good team, so we lost tonight to a good basketball team. Give them credit for hitting their threes, they hit some timely threes. Really, really great job of jumping in there and drawing contact and getting to the free throw line, that was impressive, so great work there. But you know, we got to close the game out, got to make free throws late in the game, put a team away, we didn't do it, opened a door and the rest is history. So tough loss, guys competed hard. I think a measure of effort is creating turnovers we created 21 turnovers, had 17 offensive rebounds, so this wasn't a matter of guys competing and players that participated in those statistical categories, my hat goes off to those guys tonight, they really performed well against a good team tonight.

"Bobby, you just saw them draw the foul on the three, was it your perspective that should not have been a foul call?
"I mean its not my thing to talk about and I'm not going to get involved in it. That's a tough play for those guys to make a call on so that's for everyone else to decide, I'm not going to participate in that.

Can you talk about your final play call?
"Yeah, they had been going zone on the out of bounds quite a bit and they shifted back to man and I would have loved to have gotten a better shot than falling away from the basket. We were hoping to get something going to the basket we wanted guys cutting into space and then it ended up where Marreon got the handoff off the inbound and it was a contested three and were down one, so we really don't need that type of shot so it wasn't the best shot opportunity for us at that stage.

USF just had that game last night; do you feel like your team was at their freshest?
"We had no excuses not to be, we have traveled a lot this year and we have played of good teams we have played a lot better competition than they did this year, but I give them credit because its not easy to go back-to-back especially after you lose a game, a tough close game that they lost last night. They looked different, in terms of hitting shots. They struggled to make threes last night, but they shot way better especially in the first half. I thought we did ok in the paint we were pretty good there. They got to the free throw line way more than we did, in a close game that was the difference.

What did make about the way that your ability was to defend the three-point line affect the outcome against a team like that?
"Yeah, when we went up six, they switched back to man and we didn't really handle it well, we had gotten in a good rhythm against the zone and that got us that lead. To just see us have some poor possessions they were able to run off 9 straight points so that put us back on our heels again, and we're able to make another surge and really should have put the game away, I don't point to singular things but I got a guy whose statistically made so many free throws in his career sitting at the free throw line up two to put us up four with not a lot of time you feel pretty good about where you stand, it just didn't work out.

It seems like every game is going to be like this where you are not going to score a lot of points
"DJ didn't have his A stuff, but he still made shots and tried like heck, Jay gave us really good minutes he made some big shots like the floater on the baseline. Obviously, Kimani played well, it's hard to blame Kimani for getting involved in a foul up two after the game he had/

What did you think about your zone offense overall?
"I really liked when we went high-low, we got some good things with that especially later in the game. We were trying to hit the high post and get the guards to penetrate. It took some time to adjust to, they have not shown a lot of zones this season.

Is there something you can say about Jalen Graham possibly having a slow start to the season offensively?
"He did not start tonight because he bruised his knee in practice, he was wearing a knee pad, he was limited in practice 2 days ago, didn't practice at all yesterday. So, I didn't know what expect to get from him playing through an injury.

Can you talk about the foul on the three pointer at the end?

"I don't want to question the officiating, but I felt like I was in good position. I thought he initiated the contact, but they made the call so there's not much we can do about it."

On the other end of the floor, both you getting the steal initially and then the last play what were you trying to get accomplished there?
"We didn't have any more time outs so we drew the play up, they guarded it pretty well. It was a tough shot, but there's not much you can do about that.

Bobby said you guys were maybe hoping to get a little better shot at the end?
"They play was designed to get a better shot, they guarded it well, so we just had to try to make something happen.

It seems like you guys are developing nerves of steel or should be at this point with all of the close games. Are you guys getting used to this at all? It seems like you've had a lot of them.
"Yeah, we're getting used to it a little bit. We've been in a lot of games so far that have been close and today the ball just didn't bounce our way. A couple plays down the stretch we've got to play better and correct some mistakes. Well be better next time out."

You took a 6 point lead at one point during the second half. It seemed like you might be able to get separation but it did not happen. What were some of the keys that enabled them to stay with you guys?
"They hit some big shots, some big threes, and a couple break downs on our part. We just got to be better, that's it. Better down the stretch."

What did you think about how you handled their zone?
"I thought it was fine. We got some good looks at the rim, some good shots, some didn't fall. But I think it was fine the way we played against it.

There was a lot of talk about them being undefeated and then they lost to GCU last night. How did that change your mentality going into today?
"We tried to take advantage of the rest that we had going into the game. We know they got into a pretty close game with GCU. We still had the same amount of respect for them. We knew they were going to come in and play and not just lay down for us, so we approached it the same way we were going to approach it regardless. 

Can you tell us what its like in the Locker room right now?
"Guys are upset, we didn't get the win so its normal to be upset. I was upset myself. But we are basketball players and we just have to turn the page. We got another game coming up Tuesday. We can only hang out heads for so long and then we got to flip the page and just get ready for the next game so I'm just trying to get them to look at it that way."

This isn't the first time you've come and spoke to us after a loss. Do you think that speaks to coaches confidence in you?
"I would hope so I have been through a lot while I am here. I have been here for a minute. I would he trust me a little bit"

"What does Jay Heath mean to the team?
"He means a lot. He brings in a lot of energy off the bench. He is coming from a conference where he has been in a lot of tough games. He is just as experienced as some of the older guys on our team. He is a big part of our team and it is good to see him starting to play well."