ASU beats Stanford to open Pac-12 tournament
LAS VEGAS — Arizona State’s offense stagnated at the end of regulation. All the shots that had been falling for the previous 37 minutes were not going down and Stanford rallied to tie the game.
Once the overtime started, the shots started dropping again, giving the Sun Devils a rare Pac-12 Tournament win.
Obinna Oleka had a career-high 27 points and 13 rebounds, and Arizona State dominated in overtime to beat Stanford 98-88 Wednesday in the opening game of the Pac-12 Tournament.
“It shows the character and the determination of my team and the heart of my team to rebound from being tied at the end there ... and to respond and be able to keep playing well and putting them away,” Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said.
Arizona State (15-17) shot 56 percent and made 10 of 22 from 3-point range, yet couldn’t shake the Cardinal (14-17) in regulation.
Stanford’s Michael Humphrey hit a jumper with 3.3 seconds left to send the game into overtime tied at 81-all. Once overtime started, the Sun Devils pulled away to win in the Pac-12 Tournament for the third time in 16 seasons.
Tra Holder had 21 points and Torian Graham 17 for the Sun Devils. Oleka’s double-double was his 16th this season, most in school history since the Sun Devils joined the Pac-10 in 1978.
Arizona State moves on to play No. 5 and top-seeded Oregon in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
“Even though it was overtime, I trusted that we were going to get it done and I know that they would find another gear,” Hurley said.
Stanford rallied late in the game, holding Arizona State to one point over the final 3:48. The Cardinal fell short in overtime, allowing the Sun Devils to hit all five of their shots, including three from 3-point range.
Reid Travis led Stanford with 23 points and Humphrey finished with 18.
“I felt like we had the emotion going our way going into that overtime period,” Humphrey said. “I just think like give them credit. They played well in overtime. I don’t think we played poorly in overtime, they just were able to execute in overtime.”
Arizona State won two regular-season meetings behind a barrage of 3-pointers. The Sun Devils made 25 in the two victories and Graham led the way, making 11 of 19 while averaging 27 points.
Arizona State again shot well against the Cardinal, hitting 15 of 25 shots and 15 of 17 free throws in the first half. The Sun Devils led by 14, but Travis led Stanford back, scoring 15 points to pull the Cardinal within 50-42 at halftime.
The Sun Devils maintained their cushion for most of the second half before a short run by the Cardinal brought it to a one-point game with five minutes left, setting up the close finish.
“When they’re playing a very potent offensive team like that, it gets difficult at times,” Stanford coach Jerod Haase said. “The inability to guard the basketball is a key, key problem.”
Stanford: Loses its starting backcourt of Christian Sanders and Marcus Allen to graduation this offseason, along with backup center Grant Verhoeven.
Arizona State: Shot well and will need to do it again in the quarterfinals to have any chance against the deep, athletic Ducks.
Arizona State’s 98 points are the third-most in Pac-12 Tournament history. Southern California scored 103 in 2002 and UCLA had 99 in 1987.
The Sun Devils had a big advantage in free throws, hitting 22 of 25 while Stanford took just 14.
Arizona State’s ability to get dribble penetration was a big factor.
“There’s great spacing and it becomes very difficult,” Haase said. “Our strength is our size, gritty and tough and that kind of thing, but when you’re out there chasing and trying to guard dribble penetration, it becomes difficult.”
Stanford’s season is over.
Arizona State plays top-seeded Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday.