Depleted ASU squad falls to USC despite Woods’ valiant effort
Holland Woods salvaged a potential disaster but a shorthanded Arizona State team (4-5, 1-2 Pac-12) did not have enough to upend USC (8-2, 3-1 Pac-12) and lost 73-64 on Saturday in Tempe.
Woods had a season-high 18 points on 7-15 shooting in addition to four assists and two steals. The senior was filling in at point guard for fellow senior Remy Martin. Martin was missing from the game due to not yet clearing COVID-19 protocols after attending his grandfather’s funeral earlier in the week.
“The coaches just told me to stay confident. I missed the first two shots I took. I didn’t want to quit,” Woods stated. “I was trying to get it done on the defensive end to do anything to give us some energy. I didn’t want to let the game get away, so I just did what I could, and my teammates helped me. ”
Woods did a valiant job helping ASU come back from a massive deficit in the first half but the Sun Devils, who were also without key forward Jalen Graham (mononucleosis), guard Jaelen House (COVID-19-related), and forward Taeshon Cherry (COVID-19-related), were not enough for USC, a team featuring 7-foot freshman Evan Mobley.
Mobley and his 6-foot-10-inch brother, Isaiah, helped USC destroy ASU in the rebounding department. The Trojans outrebounded the Sun Devils 50-30, with Evan Mobley grabbing 13 boards and Isaiah adding 10.
Rebounding was not the only area of success for the Mobley brothers on Saturday. They also had a tremendous amount of triumph offensively. Evan Mobley took just seven shots but converted five of them en route to a game-high 19 points, and Isaiah Mobley was 5-11 with 13 points. Senior guard Tahji Eaddy aided the Mobley brother with his 16 points.
USC dominated on the charity stripe as well in the game, going 26-32 (81. 3 percent) as a team with Eaddy and Evan Mobley each making 8-9. ASU made just 15-24 foul shots (62.5 percent).
ASU started slow. For most of the first half, the Sun Devils were missing makeable shots and did not have many second-chance opportunities as USC dominated the glass. The Trojans led by as much as 18 in the first. However, the shots started to fall toward the end of the first half. ASU went on a 14-0 run over the last 1:55 with Woods scoring 11 of the 14 points. ASU trailed 36-32 at halftime.
The second half started out back and forth with both teams trading shots. ASU took its first lead since the 16:53 mark in the first on a Verge free throw with 10:18 to go in the game. ASU took two more leads in the second half but made just one field goal over the final 7:03, and USC came away with the victory.
“We had a lot of adversity today,” said ASU head coach Bobby Hurley. “Number of teams could have easily mailed it in. We were down 18 in the first half, figured out a way to charge back and take the lead in the second half. Again, I admire … our effort. We tried. We just didn’t have enough.”
Saturday’s game came just two days after ASU went into overtime with UCLA. Hurley thought one of the reasons his team’s play fell off at the end of the game on Saturday was due to fatigue.
“We haven’t been able to generate the points that we need; not having one of your leading scorers (Martin) doesn’t help in that department and some other key guys too,” Hurley explained. “I also think just the energy we had to expend in the UCLA game. It could be some carryover to not being able to step up again.”
ASU’s next game is another big one on Thursday at No. 17 Oregon (9-2, 4-1 Pac-12). The game will tip-off from Eugene at 7 p.m. MST.