Second half collapse dooms Devils

Coming back from a weekend where the Sun Devils felt as if they hit rock bottom, ASU showed great improvement in Thursday's night home game against Washington. The end result however wasn't reflective of that, as the Huskies prevailed 60-54 in front of 6,794 in attendance at Wells Fargo Arena.

Arizona State (6-14, 2-6 Pac-12) looked anything but shell shocked from its two lopsided losses to Colorado and Utah, and stood toe to toe with Washington (13-7, 6-2 Pac 12) and led 24-22 at the half.

As the hosts increased the lead to 25-22 at the beginning of the second half, the Huskies went on a torrid 14-0 run and never relinquished their lead sending ASU to it third consecutive loss.

Freshmen Jonathan Gilling led the Devils with 20 points, an ASU career-high, but less than thrilled by that performance as he was disappointed after the game.

"I don't think they're any better than us," Gilling stated concerning Washington. "They're maybe more athletic, but I don't think player for player they're better than us. I really thought we could beat these guys."

Although Gilling wasn't too happy with the outcome of the game, his performance alone should be worth celebrating. Playing a full 39 minutes, and committing just two turnovers, this Denmark native continues to step up his play in recent weeks and picking up the slack for the sidelined Trent Lockett.

"Jonathan is quickly emerging as an outstanding player," boasted Sun Devil head coach Herb Sendek. "We ask him to share a heavy lifting load for us especially in Trent's absence. I am thrilled with his progress and am really excited looking into his future.

"He is a gamer. He missed the first few shots, we took him out at the first TV timeout and he quickly regained his composure and went on to make five threes. That's pretty telling for a freshman."

Regardless of Gilling's display, the Devils seemed to be in a slump coming into the second half. Going nearly six whole minutes without scoring, as they allowed the Huskies to take a commanding lead en route to victory.

"I thought we had a number of opportunities to make plays that would have allowed us to be in better position to win this basketball game," Sendek said of the second half. "Not to take anything away from Washington, but I thought there were a number of instances where with greater awareness and alertness, and just following through to make plays that we were more than capable of making especially on the defensive end of the floor, we could have been in a far better position.

"It's the plays that we're capable of making that we didn't make that really stand out to me."

Sophomore center Jordan Bachynski also stepped up for the Devils tonight, hauling in a career-high 13 rebounds. "He just finally decided that he was going to be more of an ‘animal' Sendek explained. "Even though right now it's still a work in progress, that mind set is serving him very well. I think he's put together his season's best games back to back now."

"Washington's a great team, they play with a lot of energy and they go to the boards hard," Bachynski said. "I think we need to focus on defense and gang rebounding. Coach is also telling us to control the game with our offense. We're our best when we take good shots and when we're patient.

"Losing is never good, and it hurts down to my core. But I'm just going to keep battling and keep bringing that energy."

For the first time in quite a while Bachynski shared the floor with fellow center Ruslan Pateev for several minutes during the second half.

"I love playing and practicing with Ruslan, he's a great player," Bachynski remarked. "He finishes around the bucket, he's strong, he's big and he's made me better in practice. It's so much fun being on the same team for once instead of having to battle against his big frame."

Another setback tonight for ASU seemed to be their poor free throw percentage, which at game's end stood at just 56.3 percent. Nonetheless, Coach Sendek explains that this figure is not reflective of the team's overall free throw percentage but may be skewed because of Bachynski's exploits in that area.

"We were 9 for 16," Sendek said. "Our free throw percentage as a team is tilted because of Jordan. He takes 7 of those 16 free throws and is 3 for 7. So it's not necessarily our team that's not shooting free throws well, but Jordan is getting fouled and he is having a hard time at the foul line right now."

With another game in their rear view mirror, the Devils will now turn their attention to Washington State on Saturday, hoping that their devoted fans will continue to stand by them.

"Our fans have been tremendous," Sendek acknowledged. "I thought we had great turnout tonight. We had a really good crowd. We truly appreciate that. This is an easy group to cheer for. They are really giving great effort."

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