Sun Devils unable to overcome Huskies despite late push, lose 89-85

ASU's poor free throw shooting combined with a hot shooting night for the Huskies down the Sun Devils for their fourth conference loss of the season.

As handfuls of Arizona State fans filed to the exits at Wells Fargo Arena with 1:58 left in the second half, it appeared the Sun Devil faithful had finally seen enough. 

With ASU trailing 79-70 against the Washington Huskies with under two minutes remaining, the fans in Tempe had watched ASU fight its way back to a single possession game on multiple occasions in the second half, but right when the Sun Devils gained any momentum, the Huskies would be there to take it right back.

Only a minute earlier, ASU junior Savon Goodman ignited the crowd of 5,652 by getting his own rebound and scoring a basket after missing two free throws to put ASU within six points.

But in the ensuing UW possession, the athletic Huskies raced down the floor with UW senior guard Andrew Andrews passing a bullet to freshman Matisse Thybulle who knocked down a three-pointer and again stretched out UW's lead.

And when ASU sophomore guard Tra Holder couldn't connect on his layup attempt down the lane in the Sun Devils' next possession, the Sun Devils' fate in the game seemed imminent. 

"They (always) did have an answer," ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said. "They hit the threes and they hit some really key three-point shots. (UW freshman) Dejounte Murray had one, Thybulle had one I believe and they shot a good percentage from that."

Falling 89-85 to UW on Saturday night, ASU dropped to 11-7 overall and 1-4 in the Pac-12. The Huskies improved to 12-5, 4-1. 

However, the Sun Devils didn't go down quietly. ASU forced UW into two turnovers in the backcourt in three possessions in the final two minutes to give ASU hope in the game's waning moments. 

ASU junior forward Willie Atwood knocked down two key three-pointers in the game's final 40 seconds, both times putting ASU within three points.

But on both occasions, UW answered by knocking down key free throws, something the Sun Devils were unable to do. 

ASU was 16 of 29 from the charity stripe Saturday night, a stark contrast to Thursday's game against Washington State when ASU converted 28 of 33 from the line and beat the Cougars 84-73. 

"It's just hard when you keep battling back and you look at the stats sheet after the game and you're 16-29 from the free-throw line and it's hard to beat a good team like that," ASU sophomore guard Kodi Justice said. "Andrews played real well. He got to the basket, kicked to shooters, they hit shots every time we were two or three points, it felt like we turned around and they hit a big three. We couldn't get that next stop to get over the hump."

With the win, Washington is 22-6 against the Sun Devils under UW head coach Lorenzo Romar and have won five-straight in Tempe dating back to the 2010-11 season by an average of 11 points.

The last time Washington beat ASU in Tempe was on Jan. 2, 2014, 76-65. That was ASU’s only home loss of the season, both non-conference and in conference. The Sun Devils’ finished the year 16-1 on their home court. 

The key player for UW Saturday night was Andrews, who dismantled the Sun Devils in the first half, scoring 18 points on 8 of 9 shooting and was 2 of 3 from three-point range.

Andrews was averaging a Pac-12 best 20.8 points coming into the game and finished with 30 points on 10 of 17 shooting from the field. Andrews also dished out 12 assists and grabbed down six rebounds.

"He's so dangerous because he has a good feel and he plays at a good pace and he makes great reads really quick and he knows how to use his body really well to get open when you even do guard him well," Hurley said.

Andrews is the only guard in one of the Power Five conferences to average over 20 points and record four points/rebounds double-doubles this season.

Behind the play of Andrews, UW opened the game on a 9-0 run and had a 13-3 run midway through the first half to give the Huskies some cushion throughout the game.

ASU never led in Saturday night's contest, only tying the game once, 18-18 with 11:36 left in the first half. UW answered the tie game with an 13-3 run of its own.

"Overall as a team, we didn't start the way we needed to start at home," Hurley said. "We dug a hole for ourselves. Our offense wasn't functionally well, we didn't execute and then the biggest problem was free throw shooting. It goes back to being consistent each game and that's something you actually can control at that end so in a game when your margin of error isn't great, you can't shoot that number, 16-29 from the foul line and expect to win."

Despite their plethora of missed free throws, the Sun Devils managed to put UW in foul trouble early, causing both freshman Malik Dime and Marquese Chriss to foul out of the game.

Dime, who finished with eight points and three rebounds, fouled out with 15:52 left in the second half. Chriss fouled out with under 30 seconds in the game after picking up his fourth foul at the 9:24 mark of the second half. 

"We kept running a certain play to get out their big," Justice said. "He was playing well. He was rebounding. We thought that if maybe we kept on running the play and attacking him we could get him out." 

By halftime, ASU was trailing by 10 points, 34-44, with the Huskies shooting 60.6 percent from the field and knocking down 3 of 8 from three-point range. Additionally, UW controlled the paint, scoring 26 points to ASU's 18.

ASU shot 41.9 percent from the field in the first half and finished the game shooting 44.8 percent. UW finished the game shooting 52.3 percent, going 9 of 20 from three-point range. 

One of the only true stats keeping ASU in the game by halftime was the Sun Devils' advantage on the glass on the offensive end of the floor.

ASU grabbed down 10 offensive rebounds to UW's five. ASU's 10 offensive rebounds resulted in 14 second chance opportunities to Washington's seven. 

In the second half, UW again started on a high note, forcing two ASU turnovers, but the Sun Devils came crawling back into the game and cut the deficit to a single possession three times -- specifically going on two 6-0 runs lasting under two minutes to cut the Huskies' lead down to a mere three points on its first run and two points on the second run. 

With 13:27 left in the second half, Justice's baseline dribble drive reverse layup made the score 53-56, capping the first of two 6-0 runs by ASU run and caused a UW timeout as Hurley and the crowd at Wells Fargo Arena got back into the game.  

Soon after, Goodman had a 6-0 run of his own in less than two minutes with just under nine minutes to go in the second half.

But like in the game's final minutes, with every small sliver of momentum ASU appeared it had, the Huskies always had an answer. 

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