ASU men's basketball desperately needed a win Thursday night and used a strong defensive performance to hold Oregon State to just 22 second half points for a 68-57 victory at Desert Financial Arena.
The win snaps a four game losing streak and keeps ASU’s NCAA Tournament hopes alive. After the game, head coach Bobby Hurley expressed to the media how important getting the win was for the morale of the team moving forward.
"No matter what you say and do in practice, or what the players do in practice, there is inherently a loss in confidence (during a losing streak)," Hurley said. "Tonight was, I guess, a reintroduction to winning and knowing how to win and closing an opponent out. So I'm hoping that there's going to be a carry over effect now that we can all breathe."
READ MORE: Inside ASU men's basketball's four-game skid
After ASU took a 27-23 lead with just over four minutes remaining in the first half, Oregon State ended the half on a 12-4 run that included free throws from an ASU flagrant foul to bring a 35-31 lead into halftime.
ASU shot 3-11 from 3-point range in the first half to Oregon State's 6-13. Freshman guard Jordan Pope was 4-8 from three for 12 points for the Beavers in the first half.
ASU regained its momentum to begin the second half, and after a 9-2 run to start the period the Sun Devils took a 40-37 lead.
Oregon State's KC Ibekwe responded with seven straight Oregon State points on his own, but a Desmond Cambridge Jr. 3-pointer gave ASU a 45-44 lead, which it never gave up.
Cambridge Jr., who entered the game as the team's leading scorer averaging 13.4 points per game, had just two points on 0-2 from the field in the first half, but finished the game with 18 points on 3-5 from 3-point range and 4-8 overall. He also accounted for four of ASU's 18 assists.
After the game, Cambridge Jr. said the high assist numbers were due to the players continuing to grasp each other's strengths and weaknesses and set each other up for success.
"At the end of the day, we’re all good individually," he said. "We all have different skill-sets that we want to show. But at the end of the day, this is a team sport."
Cambridge Jr.'s brother, Devan, had 14 points, six rebounds and two steals. He attributed the win to the team returning to form defensively.
"We've been practicing hard, which made it (the four game losing streak that preceded the win) hurt even more because in the game it wasn't translating," Devan. "We've been practicing hard, having good practices, and we got to the game and it was bad, like, communication defensively. You know, I feel like we got back to our defensive tendencies (tonight)."
DJ Horne returned to the starting lineup for ASU after serving a one-game suspension in ASU's loss to Washington State last Saturday. Horne scored five points on 2-10 shooting in 31 minutes in his return. His backcourt partner Frankie Collins added 13 points and four assists.
Newly hired head football coach Kenny Dillingham and the ASU football team were in attendance after Wednesday's National Signing Day rounded out the team's roster.
The win brings ASU to 7-5 in the Pac-12 conference standings and 16-7 overall. ASU will look to start a winning streak Saturday against Oregon at 8 p.m. MST at Desert Financial Arena.
Edited by Piper Hansen.
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