Solid Defensive Effort Not Enough vs. Ducks

Arizona State (6-10, 0-5) came close once again to their first victory in the Pac-10. Mental mistakes down the stretch allowed Oregon (15-1, 3-1) escape with a 60-55 win in Tempe.

"All losses are frustrating, losing is not fun," forward Jeff Pendergraph said. "But as we're losing and it's getting frustrating were seeing the good things, and were improving all the time."

On defense, ASU played perhaps their best basketball to date. Both teams had identical stats in field goal percentage, rebounds, and turnovers. Herb Sendek was extremely with the fact that Oregon, one of the most prolific offenses in the league scoring close to 80 points a game, was held to 60. The Ducks make close to nine three-pointers every outing but were held to just a handful on Thursday. "I thought our team took another very positive step tonight," said Sendek. "It was good to see that they continue to build on their effort in Seattle. We can certainly break down possession by possession and identify where we went wrong on defense, and we'll do that tomorrow (Friday). But from a big picture standpoint, I don't know how many times Oregon will score 60 points this year. I was very pleased with that effort."

Oregon, with two players under six feet in their rotation, had vastly improved Arizona State guard Derek Glasser exploit his defender Oregon's 5-6 point guard Tajuan Porter. The game was even for the whole first half as Oregon bounced out to an early lead only to see ASU regain the lead. The home team was just down three at the half, despite playing Jeff Pendergraph a total of eight minutes due to early foul trouble.

The last thing ASU wanted to do was allow the Ducks to gain a momentum and increased their lead in the opening minutes of the second half. Alas, that's exactly what happened. Oregon opened the first 2:30 minutes with a 9-3 run to increase their margin to nine points. "They denied every where," commented Pendergraph, "everybody was denying and it was hard to get the ball around, so we had to work it and see what they were doing."

Things went from bad to worse as Oregon was able to expand their lead to a game-high 15 points with ten minutes remaining. ASU was then able to persevere and cut the lead to three with three minutes remaining. In the closing seconds the Devils were able to hold onto the ball for a final shot, however with some stingy defense employed by the Ducks, ASU's Jerren Shipp didn't get the three-point shot that was designed for him and turned the ball over, as the visitors held onto a precious road victory.

A key factor in Thursday's loss were the second and third chances the Ducks had late in the game. "We gave them three or four offensive rebounds in a row and that stuff are killing us," said Pendergraph, "we'll make runs and they'll get little stuff like that to keep them ahead."

Jeff Pendergraph led all scorers with 18 points to go along with nine rebounds. Derek Glasser once again had a solid night scoring 12 points, dishing out five assists and committing no turnovers. The Ducks' Aaron Brooks who played all 40 minutes had 16 points.

The Devils once will meet Oregon State on Saturday for a match up of the winless teams in the Pac-10.

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