TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State’s struggles at the free throw line helped Oregon State mount a late comeback. But when the Sun Devils needed two foul shots the most, Rob Edwards delivered.
Edwards’ 13 points included two clutch free throws with 12.1 seconds to play, and Arizona State held on to hand Oregon State its first Pac-12 loss of the season, 70-67 on Thursday night.
Edwards is statistically the top free throw shooter for Arizona State among regular players at 23 of 26 on the season.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in myself when I shoot from long range,” Edwards said, “so when I’m at the free throw line, that’s close range so I don’t think about missing at all.”
The Sun Devils (12-5, 3-2 in Pac-12) have won 10 straight games over the Beavers at Wells Fargo Arena.
Oregon State rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit to trail by one and almost took the lead.
Cheatham slammed home a missed shot for a 68-64 lead, but Tinkle hit from distance again to make it a one-point game with 22 seconds left. Oregon State stole the ball on the inbounds pass after a timeout but turned the ball over a moment later.
With the crowd abuzz from watching the home team’s lead evaporate so fast, Edwards hit a pair of free throws — his only two of the night — and Thompson’s 3 to tie the game was rushed and well off target at the buzzer.
“He’s definitely a guy that I trust,” Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley said of Edwards.
The Sun Devils turned a nine-point halftime lead into a 40-22 advantage with a fast start to the second half. They scored the first nine points while the Beavers missed their first six attempts.
Oregon State (11-5, 3-1) made it a tight game in the final minutes with a furious comeback, but came up short.
“We were supposed to be the aggressor to start the second half. They were,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. “But then, we found a group to get some momentum going and made it interesting.”
Arizona State opened the game making just one of its first seven shots and trailed 10-4 before going on a 10-0 run.
The Beavers went ice cold, going more than eight minutes without a field goal in the first half. The Sun Devils went ahead 26-15 on a 3 from Edwards at the 4:20 mark.
Arizona State finished the half up 31-22. Neither team shot well in the first 20 minutes, but Oregon State was just 7 of 27 as a team. Arizona State made only 4 of 10 free throws in the first half.
Thompson had 10 of his points in the first half, reaching double figures for the 10th time in his last 11 games and 11th time this season overall.
Oregon State: The Beavers missed a chance at starting 4-0 in conference play for the first time since the 1992-93 season, but after playing at Arizona this weekend they get five of the next seven games at home. It wasn’t a surprise they made it a close game, as Oregon State’s previous four losses had come by a combined 16 points.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils had to work to put away what was shaping up to be a blowout win. Now come the Oregon Ducks on Saturday, a team the Sun Devils have struggled with at home in recent years. A win goes a long way in a wide-open Pac-12.
Arizona State guard Remy Martinon the win: “We got lucky. We have so much to learn from the film on where we let it get away. How to attack a 1-3-1 zone when somebody throws it at us, because that eventually slowed us down.”
Cheatham soared above the rim for a one-handed rebound midway through the first half, and with the extra possession, Taeshon Cherry sank a high-arching 3 with 10:48 to go for a 17-11 Sun Devils lead.
Cheatham’s athleticism was also on display with his two dunks in the final minute.
Oregon State plays at Arizona on Saturday.
Arizona State goes for a sweep of the Oregon schools when they host the Ducks Saturday night.