ASU center Eric Jacobsen blocks a shot during the Sun Devils' Senior Day game against Cal on Saturday, March 7, at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe. ASU won the game 74-70. (J. Bauer-Leffler/The State Press)
A week after surrendering a 15-point lead to bow out in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas, the ASU men's basketball team faced a similar situation Wednesday.
The Sun Devils (18-15, 9-9 Pac-12) surrendered a 16-point second half lead, but the team was able to rally to beat UCONN 68-61 in the opening round of the NIT. Senior forward Shaquielle McKissic led all players with 22 points.
ASU opened the first half strong, opening up a good lead with great shooting all around. Senior forward Jon Gilling and senior guard Bo Barnes both made wide open 3-pointers.
ASU opened up a 13-point lead heading into halftime and shot 50 percent from the field and from long distance.
In the second half, the Huskies made a run. Down by as many as 16 points, sophomore guard Rodney Purvis took over. With senior guard Ryan Boatright out with an injury, Purvis carried the load and scored 19 points on 8-of-18 shooting.
The Huskies shot incredibly well in the second half, finishing with a clip of 57.1 percent. Purvis and freshman guard Daniel Hamilton each scored 11 points to claw UCONN back into a tie with 2:42 left, but could not gain a lead.
McKissic stepped up in the final minutes, scoring seven of ASU's last nine points to seal the victory.
The Sun Devils will play against the winner of Richmond and St. Francis of Brooklyn Sunday.
Update: An earlier version of the story did not include the final score of the game. It has since been inserted into the story.
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