Devils Suffer Heartbreaking Loss to Stanford

Prior to the game, the preview of the movie "Miracle" was shown on the video screens. This move details the classic and improbable win by the U.S. Hockey team over Russia. Following a disastrous first half, many thought that it would take more than a miracle for ASU to beat fourth ranked Stanford. Mental errors in the last thirty seconds prevented another incredible victory by an underdog; as the Cardinal escaped Tempe with a 63-62 win.

The home team came out strong out of the gates. Stevie Moore scores ASU's first eight points, and his team enjoys a 15-9 lead at the 13:37 mark of the first half. Stanford's Josh Childress tied the score up at 17 a piece with 10:32 left in the half. Childress and Matt Lottich spark a powerful 18-2 run, to put Stanford up 35-19 at the 4:27 mark. Ike Diogu's free throws prevent the score from really getting out of hand, as the Cardinal lead 37-24 at halftime.

The last twenty minutes may have been the best comeback effort staged by an ASU team in quite a while. Rare three pointers by Jason Braxton and Will Fameni shrink the visitors' lead to 42-37 at the 16:13 mark. The crowd erupts with 11:08 left in the game as Serge Angounou sinks a long bomb that helps the Devils edge closer trailing only 49-47. With 6:41 left in the contest an Angounou jumper follows Braxton's seven straight points as ASU takes a 56-55 lead – after trailing for 24 or so minutes. With 2:25 left in the game Jamal Hill connects on his three pointer, and with a 62:59 edge the maroon and gold crowd is smelling an upset. Stanford's Chris Hernandez brings Stanford back within a point, and then the wheels come off for ASU…

With 19 seconds left Moore rebounds the ball of a Childress miss. Instead of holding on to the ball, he inexplicitly passes to Braxton. A quick Stanford foul sends the much-maligned Sun Devil point guard to his own personal chamber of horrors – the free throw line. The junior misses on the one and one attempt, and Stanford races towards the other end of the floor. All night long ASU has done a poor job on the glass, and Stanford's 16th offensive rebound is a tip in by Childress to give the Cardinal the lead for good. With 9.4 seconds left on the clock, Braxton brings the ball up the court in a flash. He doesn't find Diogu or Moore and misses his own jumper. A struggle ensues for the rebound, as one of the referees calls for a foul against Stanford. For whatever reason the foul is called back and the season of misery for the Devils continues.

Moore led three Sun Devils in double figures with 16 points, and tied the team lead in rebounds with six. Diogu and Braxton had thirteen points each. Diogu paced ASU in assists with six, and added two blocks. ASU reversed its fortunes dramatically in the second half, as they improved their field goal shooting from 28 to 62.5 percent. Even more impressive was the 6-7 three point shooting during that period. Stanford's edge in rebounds, 34-31, may have not been that dominating but they clearly grabbed caroms in the most opportunistic of times. Lottich led all scorers with 18, while Childress had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

"We need to learn how the finish games," said Coach Evans following the loss. "We had the game right where we wanted it. The guys fought back from a 15-point deficit. I thought our guys fought hard, and put themselves in a position to win a basketball game, and they should have won the game."

Evans said that harder play and better defense were the catalysts for his team's performance in the second half. "I think the loss to Arizona let them understand some things that we've been telling them for four weeks. I thought they came out tonight with a purpose against a very good basketball team."

When asked about the last possession of the game, he replied: "We had nine seconds to go in the game, and we left Jason in the game because he's the only guy we had that could push the ball up the floor. We wanted him to penetrate and look for Stevie or Ike. We wanted to get the ball to one of these guys and we just didn't get it (to them)."

If there's any silver lining in this gut wrenching loss, it would be the resiliency shown by Rob Evans' team, which was fresh from a route by Arizona. It is truly tragic that his squad has nothing to show for it at the end of the day. Once again, ASU needs to recover quickly as they entertain Cal in less than 48 hours, and avoid a 0-3 start in the Pac-10. It may not take a miracle to beat the struggling Golden Bears, but improving mentally is essential for the Sun Devils to split their home series with the bay area schools.

Sparky's Sundries - Serge Angounou made is long awaited regular season debut at the 12:05 mark of the first half. On the night he was 2-6 (1-2 from three point land) for five points, and just as many rebounds in 22 minutes of play…Another ASU player experiencing a debut was Justin Allen who notched his first ever start in the maroon and gold…Former Stanford star and current Phoenix Suns player Casey Jacobsen was in attendance

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