Devils Falter Down the Stretch in Loss

ASU's season-ending game was really a microcosm of its Pac-10 season. The Sun Devils' defense frustrated their opponent, while struggling on offense themsleves, and came close to beating a superior team. The maroon and gold fell to the Washington Huskies in the play-in game of the Pac-10 tournament, 59-51, and the curtain to ASU's season came to a close.

Arizona State (8-22) isn't known for its quick starts, yet mustered one on Thursday night at the Staples Center. Serge Angounou, in his last ever game for ASU, scored the first points of the game on a three-point basket. Jerren Shipp led the charge for Herb Sendek's team who held a surprising 21-10 edge after 11 minutes. Washington (19-12) came alive thanks to a switch to man-to-man defense, as well as the domination of their big men, Jon Brockman and Spencer Hawes. The last nine minutes of the first half were dominated by the Huskies who outscored the Sun Devils 22-3 and went down to the locker room with a 32-24 lead.

In the second half the Sun Devils proved once again their grit and determination. Derek Glasser's shot beyond the arc helped his team grab the lead back, 39-38, midway through the second half. The lead see sawed for a few minutes, and Jeff Pendergraph's jumper gave ASU a 47-46 edge with 5:42 left in the contest. That's as close as the squad from Tempe would come to the upset. The Devils were outscored 13-4 the rest of the way, and ended their campaign losing a very winnable game.

Shipp paced ASU with 13 points, and just like the victory over Cal last Saturday, he was the only Sun Devil player in double figures. Pendergraph had seven rebounds for his team, who held the Huskies to 38.5% shooting but converted at just a 40.4% clip themselves. Two stats that were detrimental to ASU were losing the rebound battle 39-28, allowing 14 offensive rebounds. The second one was the 16 turnovers committed. The Huskies' Brockman led all players on the floor with 16 points and ten rebounds.

It was evident all season long that Herb Sendek and his players never gave up or lost focus on what was a struggling and frustrating season. The media and the fans have been salivating for a while over a top 15 recruiting class which will dramatically shape the roster for next year. Now perhaps the team can allow itself to look forward to next season with a renewed sense of hope. Despite loss after loss, the Sun Devils have shown some promise. In 2007-08, they'll strive to translate that hope into wins.

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