Devils Miss Another Chance for Pac-10 Win

The margin of error for the Sun Devils is a small one. An anemic offense and a sub par defense, is a sure recipe for a loss, even against fellow Pac-10 cellar dweller Oregon State. After six conference contests, the Devils are still in search of that elusive first league win, as the Beavers prevailed 67-59 in Tempe on Saturday evening.

"Outside of Jeff Pendergraph, we continue to have a hard time, doing what (basketball innovator) Dr. Naismith intended and that's put the ball in the basket," said head coach herb Sendek. "As a result, our defense has little to no margin of error. Defensively, the second half, the second chance shots hurt us. We cannot allow a team, once we stopped them, to shoot again."

Just like the last few games, a good first half by ASU was once again negated by a second half that lacked effective play of both sides of the floor. Arizona State (6-11, 0-6) behind a fine performance by Christian Polk and Jeff Pendergraph, were able to control the game against Oregon State (9-1, 1-4). Even when the later played just 13 minutes due to foul trouble, the home team was ahead for the lion share of the first twenty minutes. At the 4:08 mark the score was knotted up at 27-27, and the Sun Devils ended the half on a 6-0 run to lead 33-27.

The only thing colder than the 40-degree temperature outside of Wells Fargo Arena was ASU's shooting in the second half. The maroon and gold missed 17 of their last 19 shots, and overall were just 10-33 (2-15 from behind the arc) in the last twenty minutes. With 14:47 left in the contest the Beavers tied the game at 35 apiece. Marcel Jones, who 11 points and nine boards in the second half, help give the visitors from Corvallis the lead for good 46-44 at the 7:52 mark.

The Beavers' lead was mostly in the high single digits, and ASU wasn't able to make a sizeable dent in it. In the last 1:43 minutes of the game, ASU fouled numerous times in hopes of getting the ball back quickly, preferably after some misses by Oregon State from the charity stripe. Alas, the visitors were 11-14 from the line during that period which not only secured their first Pac-10 win of the season, but also their first win in Tempe since 1998.

Pendergraph paced his team with 19 points and ten rebounds (seven offensive). Polk and Derek Glasser scored ten points each and were the only other Sun Devils scoring in double digits. Glasser had a team high five assists, while Serge Angounou led his team with 12 rebounds. ASU shot 35.4% for the game, but out rebounded Oregon State 40-35, and committed only ten turnovers. The Beavers' Sasa Cuic led all players the floor with 20 points.

"You always have a choice in how you respond, but our guys have responded like champions every step of the way, and I expect they will continue to do the same," Sendek commented. "We have to focus on ourselves and the things we can control…we're playing the guys that give us the best chance (to win). We're just gonna show up and keep on working hard. We're gonna stay positive and endure any pain that we have to experience together and we're gonna grow because of it. There's nowhere we can hide, there's nowhere we can run. We'll have to take it on like men…we're gonna keep on plugging away and not get discouraged."

Despite the shortcomings of the team, no one part of this basketball team is ready to concede any game that still lies ahead. Nonetheless, with road trips to the L.A. schools and Arizona looming large the next three games, it wouldn't be considered going on a limb to predict the ASU will be winless in the first round of Pac-10 play. These days, mental preparation will be just as important as basketball readiness, in order to avoid a complete slide and the dubious distinction of being with a victory in the Pac-10 at season's end.

Sun Devil Source Top Stories