TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona State knocked down 11 three-pointers, which included five three-pointers and a game-high 29 points from Evan Gordon, on the way to a 90-70 victory over Sacramento State in a non-conference men's basketball game Saturday evening at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Hornets lost their opportunity to start the season 6-1 for the first time in school history. Instead, Sacramento State falls to 5-2, and has just one more non-conference tune-up before Big Sky Conference play begins. That will come next Saturday (Dec. 8) at San Jose State.
Arizona State improved to 5-0 at home, and 6-1 overall this season. The record is the Sun Devils' seventh 6-1 start in the last 35 seasons. The two teams were playing one another for just the second time, and first since an ASU victory on Dec. 16, 1995, at the Wells Fargo Arena.
Sacramento State, which is the Big Sky's top scoring team, was held to a season-low 70 points on 40.0 percent shooting from the field (24-60) and 31.8 percent (7-22) from the three-point line. Conversely, Arizona State scored 90 points, which were the most allowed by the Hornets this season and tied for the sixth most during ASU head coach Herb Sendek's seven seasons at the helm.
The Sun Devils shot 48.4 percent from the field (31-64), 37.9 percent (11-29) from the three-point line and 65.4 percent (17-26) from the free throw line. At one point, ASU was 11-for-23 from distance before missing their final six looks from beyond the arc.
Sacramento State found itself in foul trouble all evening as the team was whistled for a robust 27 fouls. Four different Hornets finished with at least four fouls while foulded out of the game, and the team's back court of and were both whistled for their fourth early in the second half.
ASU opened the game by scoring on six of its first seven possessions, which included three three-pointers during a run that would see the Sun Devils take a 15-4 lead with 15:38 left in the first half. The Hornets kept inching their way back, eventually chopping the lead to 31-24 at the 6:17 mark.
That's when things got interesting as the Hornets were whistled for fouls on six of the Sun Devils' next nine possessions. In the midst of that whistle spree, head coach was given back-to-back technical fouls during same timeout at the 3:59 mark of the first half. It marked the first time Katz has been ejected from a game during his tenure as Sacramento State head coach (2008-pres.). Associate head coach served as the Hornets' head coach the remainder of the contest.
During that nine-possession, foul-aided run, which spanned from the 6:02 to the 2:14 mark of the first half, ASU went on a 15-6 run to take a 46-30 lead. That proved to be the halftime score, and the Sun Devils opened the second half on a 4-0 run to push the lead to 20 points with 19:26 left.
Sacramento State closed to within 10 points on three-pointers from , and , but the Jahii Carson and Gordon responded with back-to-back three-pointers on ASU's next two possessions to reclaim a 16-point advantage with 12:09 to play. The Hornets got no closer than within 14 points the rest of the way, as ASU eventually opened up a game-high 25-point lead late in the second half.
Sacramento State's Veteto (5), Garrity (4), McKinney (4) and (4) all played with foul trouble. More troubling for the Hornets is that also happens to be the team's top four scorers.
The Hornets, who committed just nine turnovers and never held a lead during the game, had five players score in double figures. Dickson had team highs in both points (12) and rebounds (7) while Garrity had 11 points, and the threesome of , McKinney and Veteto each had 10 points. Garrity was 5-of-7 from the field while also tallying a team-high four assists and two steals. McKinney added three rebounds, three assists and two steals. Veteto's 10 points came with five rebounds before he fouled out with 4:21 remaining despite playing just 16 minutes.
Gordon, who entered the game shooting just .265 from the field and .206 from the three-point line, picked the wrong time to get hot if you are a Hornet fan. He shot 8-of-16 from the field, 5-of-9 from the three-point line and 8-of-9 from the free throw line for his 29 points. Carrick Felix added 21 points and five assists on 9-of-13 shooting as the duo combined for 50 of ASU's 90 points. Of the Sun Devils' 31 made field goals, 21 came off assists.
The Sun Devils also took advantage of a 47-36 rebounding advantage over the Hornets as the team's massive front line helped contribute 15 offensive rebounds and 25 second-chance points.
After next Saturday's game at San Jose State, the Hornets will have 11 days off for Finals Week before opening Big Sky play at home on Dec. 19 against Montana State.