No. 19 USC gets a late push as it overtakes Arizona State

Arizona State’s men’s basketball team played its fourth straight game against a nationally ranked opponent and, like it has in others, fell short, this time falling to No. 19 USC 58 -53 Thursday night at Desert Financial Arena.

It was the seventh loss in eight games for the Sun Devils (6-13, 2-7) who are 4-5 this season in games decided by five points or less.

The Sun Devils shot just 32.8 percent (22 for 67) but stayed in the game with a tenacious effort on defense, holding USC to 30 percent (18 for 60). ASU forced 14 turnovers and blocked 11 shots while USC had four blocks. ASU actually finished with a 38-24 on points in the paint against the bigger Trojans (19-3, 9-3) but USC enjoyed a 58-39 advantage on the boards .

USC’s biggest lead was 12 points, going into the first half.

ASU fought back and trailed by just two at halftime, 26-24 and had their biggest lead of the game at 40-32 with 10:47 remaining, but then missed nine of their next 10 shots with the ‘USC going to an area and ASU misses the perimeter.

Turning

The match was even last at 51 with 1:05 remaining, but the Trojans secured the contest at the line, despite finishing 349th in the country in that department.

Boogie Ellis made it two for a 53-51 Troy lead. ASU’s DJ Horne missed on a 3-pointer off the sidelines and Sun Devils’ Jay Heath fouled on the rebound. Ellis then made one of the two for a 54-51 advantage.

The Sun Devils got within striking distance on a Kimani Lawrence layup with 23 seconds left, but it was as close as ASU could get with Ellis sinking another pair with 10 seconds left.

Better performance

Junior forward Jalen Graham scored a career-high 19 points with five rebounds, two blocks and three assists while senior forward Kimani Lawrence added 14 points, a team-high eight rebounds and two blocks.

Ellis led all scorers with 21 points while 6-foot-10 center Isaiah Mobley contributed 12 points and nine rebounds. Drew Peterson grabbed 13 rebounds, including 11 defensively.

They said it

“They had a lot of free throws because they’re big and focused on the glass. They had 20 offensive rebounds and we just couldn’t find some of those rebounds after missing them. In the congestion they seemed to get a lot of them and we didn’t. Overall, we just have to manage the last minute better.”

– ASU Coach Bobby Hurley

Following

The Sun Devils stay at home to face No. 3 UCLA (16-3, 8-2) at 8 p.m. Saturday with the game airing on ESPN. The Bruins are coming off a 76-66 loss to No. 7 Arizona on Friday night.

USC travels to Tucson to face Arizona at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602 444-4783. Follow her on Twitter @MGardnerSports.

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