Defense a sore point for ASU men's basketball against efficient Colgate attack

Junior guard Gerry Blakes attempts a lay up. ASU narrowly defeated Colgate, 78-71, at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. (Photo by Mario Mendez) Junior guard Gerry Blakes attempts a layup in a home game against Colgate. ASU narrowly defeated Colgate, 78-71, at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

ASU stopped its two game slide with a 78-71 win over Colgate that went down to the wire.

Coach Herb Sendek prided his team for its stellar defense of the three-point shot just three games ago in ASU’s win over Loyola Marymount. However, that was not the case tonight.

The Sun Devils (4-2) had a tough time defending the three, allowing Colgate to shoot 50 percent from beyond the arc. The Raiders (1-5) went 9 for 18 from deep, while ASU managed to shoot a paltry 35 percent, hitting on 6 of its 17 looks.

Video by Marc Steiner | Sports Reporter

“The one game where I thought we were just superior with that was Loyola Marymount,” coach Herb Sendek said. “I thought our preparation was great, we were locked in, we've had too much slippage at other times. It’s not just the new guys, it’s the veterans as well. We have to be better at that.”

Although both teams shot very well overall from the field — Colgate shot 50 percent and ASU's marksmen combined to shoot 54 percent — The Sun Devils could not consistently hit the three, something that the team has come to rely on this season.

ASU was on the wrong end of multiple runs tonight, as they watched their hard earned lead slowly whittle away to single digits at the hands of the efficient Raiders.

With three minutes remaining in the game, Colgate went on a nine point run to bring its deficit within one possession.

“Alarmingly, we have these stretches, especially in second halves, where we just have a hard time getting stops,” Sendek said. “We have to have much greater attention to detail as a basketball team on the defensive end.”

ASU allowed four Colgate players to score in double digits, as a result of its defensive struggle.

Compensating for this inadequacy were three Sun Devil players who managed to crack double figures as well — including senior forward Shaquille McKissic (15 points) and freshman guard Tra Holder (11 points) with junior guard Gerry Blakes leading the way with a game-high 23 points and going perfect from the free throw line.

Junior forward Eric Jacobsen clears a jump shot. ASU narrowly defeated Colgate, 78-71, at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. (Photo by Mario Mendez) Junior forward Eric Jacobsen scores a jump shot in a home game against Colgate. ASU narrowly defeated Colgate, 78-71, at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

ASU allowed a whopping 20 points off of 11 turnovers, something else Sendek likely would have found "alarming."

ASU however did shoot a significantly improved 71 percent from the charity stripe, something that they have struggled with all season.

When it mattered in crunch time though, the Sun Devils stayed composed and sealed the deal.

“It wouldn't have been unthinkable to come unglued,” Sendek said. “We have a number of new guys. When you are supposed to win, and the game is tight, and you have just lost two games, men of a lesser constitution could have crumbled.”

Reach the reporter at mtsteine@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @MarcTSteiner

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