The Arizona State Sun Devils arrived in the Bahamas with hopes of making noise in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. Playing strong basketball programs such as Baylor, Syracuse and Loyola Chicago, the Sun Devils would be tested all throughout their three-game stay on the island.
Still without their leader Marcus Bagley sitting out due to knee injury, Arizona State saw steady improvement over the course of the tournament despite dropping their first two games.
The Sun Devils found themselves playing for seventh place on Friday evening against Loyola Chicago, with both squads struggling to piece together a complete game throughout their stay.
Here's how Arizona State's final game of the tournament played out:
G- DJ Horne
G- Luther Muhammad
G- Marreon Jackson
F- Kimani Lawrence
F- Alonzo Gaffney
Neither team was able to separate themselves in the early part of the game, as Loyola led 9-8 at the game's first media timeout. The Ramblers extended their lead to 18-13 at the 11:46 timeout, thanks to solid early shooting from behind the arc (60%), and reaching the free-throw line four times.
A nice 7-0 stretch from Loyola provided a 27-16 lead for the Ramblers with 8:29 left in the first half, forcing an early Bobby Hurley timeout. To that point, Arizona State was out-rebounded 14-5, with six of Loyola's rebounds coming on the offensive glass.
However, the Sun Devils worked the lead down to six points thanks to a three-minute scoring drought from the Ramblers. Arizona State trailed 39-33 heading into the break.
First-Half Scoring Leaders
Points: Horne (9)
Rebounds: Muhammad/Jackson (3)
Assists: Jackson (2)
Only 27 seconds into the second half, Loyola's Lucas Williamson earned a double-technical foul for an interaction with Jackson during a play.
That put Williamson at four personal fouls, forcing the Ramblers to place him on the bench and effectively taking one of their best players off the floor for the time being.
However, Loyola responded well, going on a 9-3 run after Williamson's exit.
Loyola began to pull away, eventually extending their lead to 15 points with 10:48 left and forcing another Hurley timeout. The Sun Devils simply didn't have an answer on the defensive side of the ball for Loyola, which shot the three-ball incredibly well and easily beat ASU's press defense when inbounding.
Arizona State's hopes of a comeback slowly dwindled with the clock, as a tough 1-for-8 shooting stretch saw Loyola go up by 20 points with 6:06 remaining, 70-50.
The Sun Devils failed to draw close to the Ramblers from that point, ultimately losing their third straight game, 77-59. Arizona State assisted on only one bucket in the second half and made only 3 of 11 shots from downtown.
Points: Heath (16)
Rebounds: Lawrence (5)
Assists: Jackson (2)
The Sun Devils return home to Tempe to begin conference play on Wednesday, Dec. 1 at Desert Financial Arena when Washington State comes to town.