Second Half Woes Doom Devils in Stanford Loss

More often than not the first five minutes of the second half are a prelude to the final score. Unfortunately for ASU that theory was proven right in their game at Stanford, as they dropped their first Pac-10 game of the year. At the 17:25 mark Jeff Pendergraph picked up his fourth foul, and the Cardinal picked up steam after a sluggish first half and registered a 67-52 victory.

Arizona State (14-3, 4-1 Pac-10) played perhaps their best first half in this season's Pac-10 play. They shook off a cold start, and led 13-8 with 10:38 to go in the half following a tip shot by James Harden. Stanford (15-3, 4-2) gave the visitors different looks including shifting from zone to man-to-man defense, as well as playing with a predominately big line up, but the Sun Devils seem to have an answer for everything that was thrown at them in the first stanza.

A three-point shot by Jerren Shipp at the 5:23 mark, gave ASU its largest lead, 24-13. Alas, the Devils weren't able to build on their lead and ended the first twenty minutes with a 30-20 edge. The maroon and gold were able to control the glass and keep Stanford's Brook Lopez at bay as he scored three points shooting just 1-8 from the field.

As mentioned, the opening minutes of the second half were unkind to the Sun Devils. Head Coach Herb Sendek, following a 7-1 Cardinal run, was forced to take a timeout at the 17:43 mark. Not even twenty seconds later Pendergraph sits downs with his fourth foul and it just seemed a matter of time until the Cardinal would regain the lead.

A jumper by Anthony Goods put Stanford ahead, 38-36, with 12:33 left in the game. The Devils fought back and two Harden free throws have ASU holding onto a slim 42-40 edge, which eventually would be their last on the night. Lopez, taking advantage of Pendergraph's absence, goes on his own 10-0 run, and snatches away the lead for good from the visitors.

Harden paced ASU with 16 points. Ty Abbott was the only other Sun Devil in double figures with 12. Eric Boateng tallied five rebounds off the bench. Lopez had a career high 16 rebounds to go along with his 19 points which led all scorers. ASU shot well from behind the arc, 6-12, but overall were only 34.9% from the field. Their halftime edge on the glass was completely wiped out as Stanford ended up with a 38-24 advantage, including 15 offensive boards.

As disappointing as the Sun Devils feel after tonight, seeing their 10-game wining streak snapped, earning a split at the Bay Area schools was the goal for this weekend. In that sense – mission accomplished. After this weekend's games ASU still remains tied for first place in the conference, as they get ready to host Washington on Thursday at 7:00 MT.

The maroon and gold's confidence should not be shaken after Saturday's loss, but they do need to make sure and put their first loss of 2008 in the rear view mirror and continue their improbable run to finish in the upper half of the Pac-10 standings.

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