All night the UC Riverside men’s basketball team seemed to drain 3-pointers at will. So it might have been appropriate the game ended the way it did.
Highlanders senior forward J.P. Moorman hurled in a shot from three-quarters court to propel the visitors to a 66-65 non-conference win over Arizona State on Thursday night at Desert Financial Arena.
That came moments after ASU’s Luther Muhammad hit a runner in the lane to give the Sun Devils a 65-63 lead with what looked like .4 seconds left. After looking at replay, the referees set the clock to 1.7 seconds.
There were a couple of quick stoppages before the final play went off.
“They got three chances to do that last play, which was a little bit disappointing. I think we deflected the first one, which would have effectively ended the game. (Alonzo) Gaffney got a tip on it. And then they threw it off the kid’s hands and out of bounds but we didn’t get the clock organized. So they kept resetting the game and then there you have it. Tough way to lose,” ASU coach Bobby Hurley said.
The Highlanders inbounded the ball along the sideline at three-quarters court, where ASU’s Marcus Bagley was defending Moorman. Bagley took a swipe at the ball but missed, leaving Moorman to unleash the shot.
UC Riverside forward J.P. Moorman II celebrates his buzzer-beater against Arizona State.
The Sun Devil sophomore regretted the move when asked in the postgame press conference.
“It was the stupidest play of my career. I don’t know what I was thinking. Should have just let him catch it. Get a hand up, contest it. It’s instinct. I thought I had an angle on it. I learn from it. It was just stupid,” he said.
The numbers were indicative of how close the game was with the 3-pointers making all the difference. UCR shot 23-for-61 overall (38%), making 14-of-29 tries from long distance while ASU shot 25-for-64 overall (39%), but made just five of 18 attempts from deep.
The first half ended with the Highlanders up 34-32 thanks to 10-for 20 effort from long distance. They made only two of 15 shots from inside the arc.
UCR, which lost its season opener to San Diego State 66-53, finished with a slight 41-40 edge on the boards.
The Sun Devils (1-1) started out their opener against Portland on Tuesday in similar fashion, although they didn’t give up quite as many 3-pointers. They played considerably better in the second half and ended up winning by 16 points.
But other areas of their game faltered. They forced 13 turnovers, eight fewer than they did two nights ago but scored only 10 off those turnovers.
Kimani Lawrence recorded his second double-double in as many games with 19 points and 12 rebounds shooting 9-for-12 from the field. Bagley added 18 points and four rebounds while Muhammad chipped in with 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Junior guard Flynn Cameron led UCR (1-1) with 18 points on a 6-for-9 showing from long distance. Moorman added 14 with 11 rebounds and four assists. Sophomore point guard Zyon Pullin had 10 points and eight assists.
“We had a repeat performance in the first half offensively and really, from the other night and the defense wasn’t as good to keep us in it better. They hit a bunch of 3’s and we didn’t do a good job of guarding the 3-point line, didn’t do that consistently. I thought we deserve to lose. I told the guys that,” Hurley said. “Overall we were outplayed.”
“It shouldn’t have to come down to that last play. We were just flat the entire game. We allowed 10 threes in the first half and that was one of our focal points coming into the game, running them off the line. Energy was just flat. We deserved to lose that game,” Bagley said.
The Sun Devils played without the same four players that were missing on Tuesday. Forward Jalen Graham, point guard Jay Heath, true freshman Justin Rochelin and walk-on Jordan Williams were all out due to COVID contact tracing protocols.
ASU remains at home for a game at 7 p.m. Monday against North Florida (0-2).
Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602 444-4783. Follow her on Twitter @MGardnerSports.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona State loses to UC Riverside on JP Moorman’s deep buzzer-beater