Devils Survive Bobcats' Three-Point Scoring

It may have been predictable, but obviously not acceptable, for ASU to have a letdown after their upset win over Xavier. It didn't help matters that they played a Montana State team that was 14-24 beyond the arc. The 66-62 home win wasn't a thing of beauty, but it was the second time this season that ASU won a game decided by six or less points. Last season they were 3-12 in those situations.

"It wasn't five minutes in the locker room after the Xavier game ended, that we started talking about what a challenge we had tonight," said Head Coach Herb Sendek. "…we well aware, even as Saturday's game concluded that we had a great challenge tonight…they really proved to be a very difficult match-up for us defensively."

"Having said all that, I'm tremendously proud of our guys for finding a way to win. Let me tell you right now, they are some teams that would have gone down tonight…because Montana State was that good and that hot…I'm really proud of guys for hanging in there and really executing down the home stretch."

Montana State (5-5) showed early on that tonight's contest won't be a walk in the park for the maroon and gold. The Bobcats led 5-0 and Arizona State (8-2) didn't score until the 17:19 mark, when Jeff Pendergraph's drained his short range jumper. The Sun Devils did lead for the first time with 16:19 left in the half after a beautiful James Harden lay-up. Yet the Bobcats weren't rattled and grabbed back the lead, 12-9, with 12:52 left in the half.

Sharp long distance shooting put the visitors ahead 26-17 with 6:18 left in the half. The hosts answered with a 10-0 run, capped off by two Jerren Shipp free throws, and gave ASU a slim 27-26 lead, which was overturned by the Cats who were ahead 28-27 at halftime.

The Devils opened the second half with a 12-6 run, and some rare man-to-man defense. Following a Shipp three-pointer the Bobcats are forced to call timeout with 16:02 left in the second half, trailing 38-33. This could have easily been the breaking point of the game. However with torrid shooting from three-point land, Montana State tied the game at 42 apiece at the 13:10 mark. The Sun Devils regrouped, and exploded for 10 points in three minutes, to reclaim the lead, 52-47, following a three-point play by Harden.

The Bobcats wouldn't let up, and with Sun Devils' inability to defend the arc, jumped to a 61-57 lead with 3:38 left in the contest, following four consecutive three-point baskets. Both team struggled from the free throw line the rest of the game, but the misses from the charity stripe by the Cats were the more costly ones. Those miscues, along with two turnovers, allowed ASU to overtake the lead and escape with a win.

Harden and Shipp both tied for a team and a game-high 17 points each, with the former scoring 13 points in the second half. Pendergraph had a double double with 16 points and 13 rebounds – seven of them of the offensive variety. Ty Abbott had 10 points. Harden and Derek Glasser had seven assists each, and committed one turnover apiece. Bobby Howard paced the visitors with 16 points.

ASU shot 57.7% in the second half, which was slightly better than Montana State's 55.6% in the same stanza. The Devils were only 12-23 (52.2%) from the free throw line, but forced 21 turnovers while committing only ten. The Bobcats' 14 three-point field goals were tied for the third most by an ASU opponent.

Up next for the Sun Devils is a Saturday 2 pm tip-off against the University of Idaho.

Sun Devil Source Top Stories