By Dasha Beauchamp
Dayton, OH — A battle between two teams that started the year off strong, ended up being a 74-65 victory for Arizona State over St. John’s. Last year the Sun Devils were in the First Four games of the NCAA Tournament but lost – this year the team came out with a different result.
“It was just great,” Luguentz Dort said after the win. “At the beginning of this year we knew that we wanted to do something special.”
Both teams looked like sure tournament teams to start the season, but as evidence during the course of the game, showed their vulnerability.
The contest started off tightly with Arizona State holding a slight three-point lead, 13-10. But then, the Sun Devils increased its intensity on both sides of the ball and pulled away from the Red Storm. In a run lasting just over three mintues, Arizona State scored 11 straight points to snag a 24-10 advantage.
As the first half moved forward, all eight players who stepped on the court for the Sun Devils scored and pushed the lead to as many as 18-points. However, St. John’s wasn’t quitting and climbed back into the game. By intermission, the Red Storm had cut down its deficit, 38-25.
Arizona State’s freshman Dort, led the way with 11 points.
St. John’s came out of the locker-room determined to erase its deficit. With 16:35 remaining, the Red Storm cut the lead to seven as the Sun Devils struggled to score the ball.
Yet, Arizona State started to heat up again and push out its lead once more. Both teams showed their Jekyll and Hyde personalities tonight as proven by the amount of talent and athleticism both teams possess, but also the inability to capitalize on that talent and athleticism.
Dort chipped in another 10-points for a game-high of 21. He also had four rebounds, two assists, and two steals as Arizona State won, 74-65.
“It was probably one of our worst games of the season overall,” said a dejected coach Chris Mullin.
On the opposing side, Shamorie Ponds led the Red Storm with 25-points. His teammate LJ Figueroa, contributed with a double-double of 19 points, 10 rebounds in the loss.
The No. 11-seeded Sun Devils will now move on to play No. 6-seeded Buffalo on Friday in Tulsa.