ANCHORAGE — Arizona State guard Trent Lockett scored 24 points, including the game-winning basket with 8.9 seconds left, to lift the Sun Devils into the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout championship game with a 59-58 victory over Weber State on Friday night at Sullivan Arena.
The Sun Devils (3-1) also got 16 points, four assists and four steals from guard Jamelle McMillan and shot 45 percent from 3-point range to prevail in one of the most competitive semifinals in the storied tournament's 33-year history.
The Wildcats (2-3) were led by reserve guard Scott Bamforth, who scored 15 points, but the two-time defending Big Sky Conference champs were hurt by 34 percent shooting, while allowing the Sun Devils to shoot 49 percent.
In a game that featured 13 ties and nine lead changes, neither team managed more than a six-point advantage, which came with 6:36 remaining when McMillan nailed his team's final 3-pointer to make it 54-48.
But the Sun Devils saw their lead trimmed to 57-56 at the 3:16 mark by four straight points from WSU guard Damian Lillard, and neither team would score for the next three minutes.
After a missed jumper by Lockett, Lillard took Darin Mahoney's outlet pass and raced downcourt, drawing a foul from ASU's Rihards Kuksiks. The reigning Big Sky Player of the Year coolly knocked down both shots with 16 seconds remaining to put WSU ahead 58-57.
Following a timeout, Lockett, who went 9-of-12 from the field, took a pass from Ty Abbott and drove the lane, banking the ball softly off the glass while drawing a foul from Mahoney. Lockett's free throw bounced high off the iron, however, and landed in the hands of Bamforth, who immediately found Lillard. Lillard pulled up for a long 3-pointer in transition that caromed high off the back of the rim, and the rebound was grabbed by ASU's Kyle Cain as time expired.2 comments on this story
Lillard finished with 12 points on 8-of-8 free-throw shooting, but struggled to just 2-of-17 from the field, including 0-for-8 from 3-point land.
Weber State was hurt by the loss of guard Lindsey Hughey, who left the game in the second half with a leg injury after tallying 13 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Kuksiks had 11 points and two assists and Abbott dished four assists to lead ASU into its first-ever Shootout title game. The Sun Devils will play St. John's – an 83-39 winner over Drake in the first semi ?— at 8 p.m. AST today for the championship. Weber State will face Drake for third place at 5:30 p.m.