Cougars Prevail Over Devils in a Heartbreaker

Nine seconds. That's all that stood between ASU and the hopes of keeping its dim NCAA tournament hopes alive. The Cougars' Chris Schlatter effectively ended that dream when he sank in a three-pointer, which ensured Washington State a 57-55 victory.

Washington State (11-14, 6-10) had no problems handling ASU (18-11, 7-10) in the first half. The Sun Devils shot a miserable 34.6% from the field, including 1-10 from behind the arc, while the home team was sizzling to the tune of 52.4% from the floor. When the halftime buzzer sounded, the Cougars enjoyed a comfortable 31-19 lead.

ASU outscored Washington State 36-26 in the second half, and grabbed the lead for the first time 44-43 with 6:09 left in the game. The visitors were able to hang on to a slim lead, and Allen Morrill's lay-up with 1:45 left kept the Devils ahead 55-52. Jeff Varem scored quickly on the other end to cut down the lead to 55-54. Ike Diogu couldn't get a shot off in the ensuing possession, and a 35-second shot clock violation gave the Cougars the ball back with 36 seconds left.

16 seconds later WSU's Thomas Kelati missed his jumper, but his team was able to grab the offensive rebound and set up for Schlatter's eventual winning shot. ASU's Tyrone Jackson missed a running jump shot in the last few seconds, which would have sent the game into overtime.

Ike Diogu led all players on the floor with 19 points. Kevin Kruger was the only other ASU player in double figures with 13. The Devils were 42.3% from the field, and went to the free throw line only nine times, converting six of those attempts. Kelati paced his team with 15.

Traveling from Pullman, Wash to Tempe, Ariz., may sometimes seem as long as a trip around the world. During this lengthy trek, the maroon and gold will agonize not only over Saturday's loss, but also on all the opportunities lost during the 2004-05 campaign. The regular season ending game pits ASU against archrival Arizona in Tempe. Pride, and a spot in the Pac-10 tournament will be on the line.

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