An emotional senior day for ASU men’s basketball met a fork in the road with five seconds left in a meeting with the Stanford Cardinal – the Sun Devils lost 84-83.
Senior guard Kodi Justice, one of four seniors being celebrated, stood at the free throw line with the Sun Devils down two. Justice missed the first free throw before sinking the second.
Even so, it was too little too late for ASU in its 84-83 loss.
“Shots didn’t fall,” Justice said. “I mean they all felt good. It’s gonna sting.”
Nevertheless, if Justice hadn’t knotted the game with a triple with 1:13 left in the game, who knows how it might have shaken out for the maroon and gold?
Certainly the Sun Devils’ 19-point deficit with 16:46 remaining in the contest didn’t help their chances at securing head coach Bobby Hurley’s second Pac-12 weekend series sweep of his career.
“It was a very emotional day,” Hurley said. “I’m not surprised we struggled early in the game and had a deficit, just with the emotion and what the senior class means to me.”
Trailing 19 points on senior day with the bridge to the NCAA Tournament on the verge of collapsing, ASU was desperate for life.
Ironically enough on a day dedicated to seniors, it was freshman guard Remy Martin who nearly upgraded his status to hero.
Midway through the second half, Martin and company rattled off an 8-0 run in 28 seconds. Martin tallied a steal, an assist, a layup and two free throws during that time. The freshman finished with 14 points and seven assists.
“We fight,” Hurley said. “We’ve got an amazing will to win and desire to win.”
Points weren’t the sole reason the Sun Devils were downed by the Cardinal.
Stanford outrebounded ASU 45-23, which led to the Cardinal’s second-chance point (13-4) advantage.
Even forcing 15 more turnovers than they committed didn’t successfully bring back the Sun Devils.
ASU heads into next week’s Pac-12 Tournament as the No. 9 seed with a date against the No. 8 seeded Colorado Buffaloes.
“I love my chances with the group I have playing anybody that we’re going to play in the postseason, in Vegas and in the NCAA tournament,” Hurley said.
With more Pac-12 competition less than a week away as ASU’s trip to the Big Dance drips with uncertainty, Hurley’s message to the team is clear going forward.
“We can beat anybody in the country, that we’ve already done that,” Hurley said. “In the conference and in our league we’ve played so many close games. We’ve proven that we can beat some of the best teams in the country handily.”