Jay Heath 3-point shot gives ASU men overtime victory at Oregon
EUGENE, Oregon — Arizona State basketball coach Bobby Hurley emerged from the Sun Devils locker room dripping wet. He spent a few minutes in the hallway of Matthew Knight Arena talking to his assistant coaches before retreating back into the locker room, to change clothes before doing a television interview.
The Sun Devils were in a celebratory mood and the players, more than one, had drenched their coach with whatever liquid they could find.
It has been a long time between wins, almost three weeks, but ASU prevailed 69-67 in overtime against perennial conference title contender Oregon in Pac-12 play Sunday night. The victory not only snapped a five-game losing skid, it marked the first win for ASU in Eugene since 2011 and the first ever in this particular venue.
It was Jay Heath and D.J. Horne most instrumental in the victory with Horne scoring 23 points including a 3-pointer that sent the game into overtime at 60-60.
Heath tallied 14, which included the game-winning shot with 11 seconds left in the overtime. Marreon Jackson drove the lane, then dished the ball to Horne who found Heath in the corner.
"I'm not going to lie. When I got the ball I thought I was going to shoot it," Horne said. "I think they (Oregon players) all thought I was shooting it, too. But I trust all my teammates. I saw him (Heath) there and he had a better shot than what I had so I got it to him."
A lot has happened in the last month for ASU (3-6, 1-1), not much of it good. The Sun Devils' first two losses were by a combined three points, most notably the one to UC Riverside that came on a three-quarters court shot at the buzzer.
There was an overtime loss to San Diego State, three lopsided losses in the Bahamas and the epic offensive catastrophe on Wednesday when they dropped their conference opener to Washington State 51-29, setting school records for offensive futility.
That all made this victory all the sweeter.
"They deserved this, what they have been through the last two weeks. It hasn't been easy," Hurley said. "The 70 foot shot, close loss at San Diego State, then going to the Bahamas and all that travel, the toughness of those three games against those good teams, then the game on Wednesday. They've earned it."
Not only did ASU make some clutch shots, it turned in some clutch play on defense when it was most needed.
The Ducks (5-4, 0-1) had 11 seconds left to get the equalizer. True freshman Enoch Boakye, in the game because ASU's other big men Alonzo Gaffney and Jalen Graham had both fouled out, blocked a 3-point shot shot from the corner by Oregon's Rivaldo Soares.
On the next in bounds try, Oregon had to call timeout with De'Vion Harmon defended well by Kimani Lawrence.
The Ducks had six seconds left when they went to inbound for the third time. A shot by Will Richardson, Oregon's most veteran player was well off the mark and Horne batted it away from the basket as time expired, sending the Sun Devils into celebration.
All say they tried to maintain a positive attitude despite the recent struggles.
"We just tried to tell ourselves there are a lot of games left," Heath said. "We knew we were a better team than what we were showing. We never lost faith in ourselves or each other."
Hurley said the team did a good job of regrouping and going back over deficiencies.
"We did a lot more offensively in practice, got a lot more shooting in, focused on that end of the court to try and then we downsized a little bit to try and keep it a little more simple in our half court offense."
And yes they had to review the debacle that was the Wednesday night game in which ASU shot just 21.1% (12-of-27) from the field with an abysmal 11.5% (3-for-26) from long distance and 15 turnovers thrown in for good measure.
"We watched the first half of the Washington State game and that was enough for all of us. A lot of coaches may not have watched that, just wanted to do it in a very calm way and just talked about the mistakes we were making on the offense, the opportunities we weren't taking advantage of and then we shifted gears to kind of let that go and focus on the next game," Hurley said.
All say getting off to a better start was imperative. And they did just that, surging out to a 16-6 lead, its largest of the half. Horne led the charge, making four of his first five shots from the field and five of seven in an opening half that ended with the host team up 31-30.
"I think we need that," Horne said. "It felt good to be able to make some shots and get us off to a good start. I think it helped us relax just a little."
ASU shot 47% (27-for-58) for the game, with an 8-for-21 from long distance. Lawrence was the third Sun Devil in double figures with 13 to go with six rebounds and three assists.
Oregon shot 42% (25-for-60) but was only 4-for-22 fro long distance. The Ducks did finish with a sizeable advantage in points in the paint, 42-22, and a slight edge on the boards, 36-35.
The Sun Devils played for the sixth straight game without sophomore forward Marcus Bagley who is out with a knee injury. They have yet to have their entire starting lineup in tact for a game this season.
ASU returns home for a nonconference game at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday against local foe Grand Canyon (8-1), which has won five straight games.