ASU men's basketball dropped its fourth straight game in an 80-79 loss to Oregon State on Saturday in Corvallis, falling to 4-6 on the season and 1-3 in conference play.
After both teams played tight for 39 minutes, with neither team leading by more than seven points, the Sun Devils took a 79-78 lead with 11 seconds remaining on a 3-pointer by freshman forward Marcus Bagley, his fourth of the night.
Following that play, ASU coach Bobby Hurley opted not to call a timeout, allowing Oregon State senior guard Ethan Thompson to quickly push up the court and find junior forward Warith Alatishe for a wide-open, go-ahead dunk with four seconds remaining against an unprepared ASU defense.
"If there was something I wish I could have done a little bit differently, maybe (I'd) get a timeout after we did hit that three just to set our defense, make sure we were matched up properly for that last possession," Hurley said.
On the subsequent play, senior guard Remy Martin, who made his return to the court after missing the previous two games, launched a last-second 3-point attempt that fell short.
ASU failed to contain Oregon State's offense, allowing the Beavers to shoot 42.9% from three. ASU was also out-rebounded by a 35-27 margin and forced just 11 turnovers, tied for their lowest mark on the season
The Sun Devils also struggled from beyond the arc, shooting just 5-21 on 3-point attempts.
However, the offense ran smoothly elsewhere, as ASU shot 50% from the field and moved the ball well, notching a season-high 22 assists to a season-low four turnovers.
That ball movement was particularly significant for an ASU team that has often favored isolation-heavy offense, as they repeatedly created high percentage looks using unselfish play throughout the night.
"Our movement off the ball was very good," Hurley said. "We were able to take advantage of our athleticism because of the willingness to pass and also the guys moving without the ball."
Martin and senior guard Alonzo Verge Jr. captained that approach with eight assists each, a career-high mark for Verge. Their creation primarily empowered Bagley, who scored 19 points, and junior forward Chris Osten, who scored a season-high 12.
Freshman guard Josh Christopher and Martin each scored 14 points. Martin scored over double digits despite shooting 3-13 from the field.
For the Beavers, sophomore guard Jarod Lucas led the way with 18 points and four made 3-pointers, while Thompson recorded 17 points and five assists.
Although ASU has yet to live up to expectations for a team that began the season ranked No. 18 in the country, Hurley said he felt encouraged by the team's response to yet another close defeat.
"I looked around and saw every guy and how disappointed they were, and that's an indicator of how invested they are and how much they want to win," Hurley said. "I can't say I saw that (after the loss) against Villanova."
With a challenging matchup against rival UA on Jan. 21 at home at 7 p.m. MST, Verge said he believes this loss has the opportunity to serve as a turning point for the Sun Devils.
"I wouldn't want to go to war with anybody else," Verge said. "We've got a special group of guys. It's just about bringing it all together and I think tonight was our first step in doing that."
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