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ASU men's basketball falls to UC Riverside in final seconds of game

A chaotic final minute against the Highlanders gave the Sun Devils their first loss of the season Thursday night

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UC Riverside junior center Callum McRae celebrates after his teammate hit a last-second shot to win the game at Desert Financial Arena on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. ASU lost 66-65.

ASU men’s basketball lost to the University of California, Riverside Thursday at Desert Financial Arena by a score of 66-65 in a game that came down to the last few seconds.

The Sun Devils' offense struggled throughout the entire game, scoring on only 39.1% of field goal attempts and 27.8% of three-pointer attempts. Through the first half, the Highlanders controlled the lead with a score of 34-32 going into the second half.

The second half saw a lot of back-and-forth between the two teams, leading to a tie with under two minutes left to play. 

Redshirt junior guard Luther Muhammad scored with 1.7 seconds left to give the Sun Devils a 65-63lead and seemingly ending the game. However, UC Riverside senior forward J.P. Moorman II launched the ball 60 feet at the buzzer to give the Highlanders a 66-65 lead. 

“It shouldn’t have to come down to that last play,” sophomore forward Marcus Bagley said, “We were flat the entire game.”

Once again, graduate student forward Kimani Lawrence led the Sun Devils with 19 points on the night. Lawrence was joined in the double digits by Bagley with 18 points and Muhammad with 11 points. 

Junior forward Alonzo Gaffney led the team in blocks with four. One highlight reel block from Gaffney late in the second half led to a dunk by Lawrence to give the Sun Devils a 59-57 lead. 

Head coach Bobby Hurley was disappointed in the Sun Devil defense for allowing the Highlanders to get 10 three-pointers in the first half. Hurley believes the Sun Devils were simply outplayed. 

As disappointing as the final seconds were for the Sun Devils, the team's level of play throughout the game was not as high as it should have been. The responsibility for the loss does not rest solely on one person, but on everyone, Hurley said.

“Everyone has a little bit of ownership,” Hurley said. “I thought we deserved to lose."

A lack of communication and a breakdown of rotations put the Sun Devils in a difficult position to win. The Sun Devils’ struggles combined with the Highlanders' dominance from the three-point line made for a tough loss to swallow. 

“We’ve got to be better,” Bagley said. 

The Sun Devils will look at Thursday’s game as a learning experience and work to fix their mistakes throughout the rest of the season. 

“We’ll learn from it and we’ll come back with the right attitude on Saturday in practice and get ready for Monday,” Bagley said. 

The Sun Devils will look to bounce back against the University of North Florida at Desert Financial Arena on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. MST.

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Kathryn FieldSports Editor

Kathryn Field is a sports editor at The State Press. Kathryn has previously worked as a full time reporter at The State Press, covering women’s basketball and lacrosse.

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