CORVALLIS, Ore. – Despite a 50-percent shooting effort and a season-high 22 assists and the second-fewest turnover (four) in the past 25 seasons, the Sun Devil men's basketball team was edged by Oregon State after the Beavers scored in the final seconds to come away with a 80-79 win.
Although they trailed for much of the game, the Sun Devils (4-6, 1-3 Pac-12) were in position to capture a road win after forward Marcus Bagley made a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left that put ASU ahead 79-78. The Beavers (6-5, 2-3) reclaimed the lead with 4.1 seconds remaining and secured the win after Remy Martin's shot at the buzzer bounced off the front of the rim.
"We battled hard, fought hard, made a lot of winning plays down the stretch," ASU coach Bobby Hurley said. "They made their free throws late, [Oregon State guard Ethan] Thompson made a great pass and play [at the end of the game]. If there was something I could have done differently, [calling] a timeout after we hit that three-pointer to set our defense and make sure we're matched up properly on that last possession.
"Outside of that I can't be disappointed with our team. I knew following their loss the other night they would be a different team tonight in terms of being ready to play after their pause last week. We did some nice things out there tonight, our assist to turnover ratio was maybe the best we've had since I've been here with 22 assists and only four turnovers. It was pretty good stuff so overall I was pretty happy even though it was not the result that we wanted."
Bagley led the way for the Sun Devils with 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting, while freshman guard Josh Christopher added 14 points and seven rebounds. Senior guard Remy Martin added 14 points. Although he struggled from beyond the arc (0-8), Martin made all eight of his free throws and was a great facilitator, recording eight assists and zero turnovers.
"I don't expect Remy to go 0-for-8 from three, that's not what he's been over his whole career, but he did some really good things down the stretch with some clutch free throws and eight assists with no turnovers," Hurley said. "It's hard to knock his performance, he had some really good steals down the stretch that reignited our energy in the second half. We need to do that a little better, I mentioned that to the team and not necessarily that that cost us the game. Overall if you look at our last three games, our opponent has made three or four more threes than we have and our numbers aren't reflective of our ability to shoot it, so we have to do a better job of connecting from three."
Senior guard Alonzo Verge Jr. was also a great facilitator for the Sun Devils as he dished out a career-high eight assists with only two turnovers. The Sun Devils did a phenomenal job taking care of the ball with 22 assists on 28 baskets to go with only four turnovers.
Verge Jr. explained how he and his teammates were able to take care of the ball on offense and how they need to look at Saturday's result.
"I just knew that defense was going to focus on me and keep their eyes on me and Remy," Verge said. "I [saw] their defense was playing pretty high up, and I [saw] the backline was pretty open [often], so I just communicated to those guys to [cut] backdoor and it was pretty much open [most of the time].
"We got a special group of guys. It's just about bringing it all together and I think tonight was our first step of doing it."
Rebounding and 3-point shooting turned out to be the difference as the Beavers outrebounded ASU 35-27 and shot 43 percent from beyond the arc compared to a 24 percent for the Sun Devils.
The game was competitive throughout with 17 ties and 20 lead changes and neither team led by more than seven points. The Sun Devils shot 57 percent in the second half. Both squads – ASU(18-23), OSU (21-27) – shot 78 percent from the line with the Beavers outscoring ASU 14-9 from the charity stripe in the second half.
The Sun Devils return to action on Thursday (7 p.m.) when they host Arizona in a Territorial Cup series matchup on ESPN.