Devils Corral Coyotes, Notch 1st Season Win

It was an evening of firsts on Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Arena. It was the first ever collegiate game for Cal State San Bernardino, the first time in quite a while that the Sun Devils had five players in double digit scoring, and more importantly the 69-52 victory was head coach Herb Sendek's first win in his ASU tenure.

The 6,033 in attendance saw Jeff Pendergraph come out strong out of the gates and score eight of ASU's first 15 points, as Arizona State (1-1) jumped ahead 15-7 at the 11:27 mark. With 7:15 left in the first half, Cal State San Bernardino (0-1) found itself already down by ten points, 22-12, following a three-point basket by Christian Polk. The Coyotes chipped away at the lead, but only got as close as a six point deficit. Jerren Shipp and company brought back the lead to double figures, and closed out the first half strong giving the maroon and gold 37-21 margin, which included 16 points in the paint.

A new tradition at Arizona State calls for the crowd to stay standing in the first and second half until the visitors score. Thanks to some good defense, the Sun Devil faithful stood for the first 3:33 minutes in the first half before the visitors from California registered a basket, as ASU went on a 10-0 run. And that wasn't even the highlight of the second half. Shortly after that point of the game, seldom used Steve Jones entered the contest and proceeded to make his first three shots in a row, all three pointers, that gave ASU an even 30-point lead 56-26 at the 12:33 mark of the second half, and were part of a sizzling second half for ASU in which they shot at a 63.2% clip.

The sophomore, son of NBA broadcaster Steve "Snapper" Jones, recorded his first ever double digit scoring outing in the maroon and gold and paced his team with 12 points – all behind the arc. "Steve Jones have us a great lift tonight," said Sendek. "Not only with his threes, but also with his ball pressure.

"It was a team effort tonight," said a humble Jones following the game. "We try to come together very game and play as one heartbeat. It was great having the students out there and the crowd is getting better and better every night. If we can get that kind of support, we'll keep on getting better and better each game…my teammates always believed in me and we always believed in each other. No matter what, we're always prepared for each situation as a unit – one heartbeat."

The Jones' highlights didn't end there. Following his dive into the scorers table fighting for a lose ball, Coach Sendek urged the crowd for a larger ovation for the effort Jones had shown. "That was one of the all-time great hustle plays," he said. "The play he had along the sidelines epitomizes what he brings every single day," Sendek remarked. "If we'd had a 360-degree windmill dunk, I wouldn't have said a word. But on that play, it doesn't get any better. It was great to see our crowd respond." Jones added: "Coach Sendek loves hustle plays like that – he preaches that to us everyday. 100% effort for 40 minutes every night."

Shipp and Antwi Atuahene each had 11 points for the Sun Devils, while Polk and Serge Angounou, who started for Sylvester Seay, had 10 points apiece. Angounou led all players on the floor with nine boards. Cal State San Bernardino featured a defense which Sendek would term "unconventional" that caused ASU to turnover the ball 20 times. On the other hand, the Coyotes registered 22 turnovers. Lance Ortiz was the high scorer for the visitors with 11.

"We really went into tonight's game, not knowing what to expect," said Sendek. "We didn't have any tape on our opponent. This was their first contest…we really focused entirely on ourselves which isn't bad thing, especially this time of year. Their defense required our guys to adjust and think, and I thought for the most part we did a pretty good job of that. We still have to work very hard on becoming a good passing team."

Up next for the Sun Devil is a home game against Portland State on Saturday, with a 2 p.m. tip-off. "Twice this week we didn't tip-off until 8:30 on a school night, and I know how hard that is for a family," said Sendek. "But this Saturday, it's at 2 o'clock. I know it's the same day as the football game (against UCLA at home), but that's great because you can save on gas and come and see both contests. You don't have to make both trips."

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