Torrid Second Half Nets Win Over Gauchos

Going into the 2005-06 season, the book on Arizona State was that its newcomers will have to contribute early and often for them to be successful. Monday's game against UC Santa Barbara was a prime example of that theory. First-year players Antwi Atuahene and Jeff Pendergraph had their best outings thus far, and were instrumental in the 73-57 win.

Much like the temperature outside, first half shooting by both teams was frigid at best. The score was tied up at 5 at the 14:05 mark of the first stanza. The visitors (2-2) tightened up their defense, and did just enough on offense, to open a 17-11 margin with 7:55 left in the half. The Gauchos weren't able to build on this lead, and settled for a halftime tie of 29-29.

Matters remained tight in the second half, and at the 12:50 mark, the home team (3-0) was only up 41-40. Minutes later the lead become double digits 50-40, and all UC Santa Barbara could do is come within seven points. The last four points of the game were scored by a Pendergraph dunk and two free throws by Atuahene.

Kevin Kruger led four ASU players in double digits scoring with 16. Atuahene chipped in with 15 points and collected team-highs in rebounds (nine) and steals (three). Tyrone Jackson had 12 and Bryson Krueger contributed 11 points. Pendergraph had a career-high nine points and four rebounds in only eight minutes of play.

After going 30.8% from the field in the first half, ASU shot 57.7% in the second stanza, while limiting Santa Barbara to 34.5% during that period. The Devils dominated the boards 44-34, but gave up 14 offensive caroms. After having very nice showing from the free throw line, the home team was 22-32 for 68.8% on the night.

The general consensus was that this game was going to be the maroon and gold's toughest test to date. If that's the case, it's hard not to be encouraged by the win and effective halftime adjustments the Sun Devils employed to secure this victory. Up next on Wednesday night, ASU continues its home slate with North Texas. A lesser opponent for sure, but also a golden opportunity to improve even more on the team's play as the enter the even tougher match-ups in its out of conference schedule.

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