PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Bobby Hurley of No. 25 Arizona State was pleased with the resiliency his team showed against Washington State.
The Sun Devils fell behind several times in a back-and-forth game, but kept their composure at the end when the Cougars were losing theirs.
Shannon Evans II scored 23 points and Romello White added 21 as Arizona State won 88-78 on Sunday.
“I loved how we consistently built a lead in the second half,” Hurley said. “They charged back and we responded. So it was very good I thought.”
Tra Holder scored 20 for Arizona State (17-6, 5-6 Pac-12), which was coming off a loss at Washington.
“Shannon Evans top to bottom was very good,” Hurley said.
Malachi Flynn scored 22 for Washington State (9-13, 1-9), which has lost five in a row and is last in the league. Robert Franks and Viont’e Daniels each scored 18 points for the Cougars.
Arizona State shot 70 percent in the second half to hold off the Cougars, who were undone by 18 turnovers that led to 34 Sun Devils points.
“We got back to being more active on defense,” Hurley said. “We generated a lot of live ball turnovers, which got us out in the open court and got the game to the speed we like.”
The Sun Devils, who shot 44 percent in the first half, led 40-38 at halftime behind 15 points from Evans. The Cougars were hurt by 10 turnovers in the first.
An 11-2 run to open the second half put the Sun Devils up 51-40.
The Cougars clawed back and Carter Skaggs hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 59. Daniels sank a 3-pointer to put Washington State ahead and Skaggs followed with another for a 65-61 lead.
A foul and then a technical against ASU’s White sent Franks to the free-throw line for four shots. He sank three to tie it at 72.
But Remy Martin sank two baskets and Evans hit a 3 as the Sun Devils ran to an 82-74 lead with four minutes left. Turnovers plagued the Cougars in the closing minutes and they could not recover.
Washington State coach Ernie Kent said his players battled but continue to have trouble closing, a trend that has left them frustrated.
“They just crumbled again at crunch time,” Kent said. “They need to learn how to close out games this year.”
Flynn, the WSU point guard, committed five turnovers, several of them at the end of the game. He took responsibility for the loss.
But Kent said the turnovers were partially the result of playing the entire game.
“Forty minutes wore him down,” Kent said of Flynn, who also had four assists and made three 3-pointers to keep the Cougars close.
Washington State, the top 3-point shooting team in the league, was 12 of 31 from 3-point range.
“You realize they are going to make some,” Hurley said. “You just try to limit the amount of damage that they are able to do from behind the 3-point line.”
Arizona State: The Sun Devils have played seven of their 11 league games on the road, and have five home games left. Arizona State ranks 14th in the nation with an average of 84.9 points per game. Six Sun Devils average better than eight points per game. Arizona State opened with 12 straight wins, but has been alternating wins and losses since.
Washington State: The Cougars average 74 points per game. They lead the Pac-12 with 11.5 made 3-pointers per game.
Romello White sank 10 of 11 field goal attempts, and added nine rebounds for the Sun Devils.
HE SAID IT
“We were right there at 72-72 and kicked the ball away,” Kent said.
Going 1-1 on their Pacific Northwest trip may cost the Sun Devils a place in the Top 25.
Arizona State hosts Southern California on Thursday.
Washington State plays at Oregon State on Thursday.