Huskies Hand ASU First Home Defeat

The story of ASU's 11th consecutive loss to Washington, 72-61, can be summed up in two words: Stepping Up. Despite his injury a hobbled James Harden scored 13 points in the first half, and helped the Sun Devils stay within striking distance. Nonetheless, his supporting cast couldn't pick up the slack in the second half when the freshman's groin injury got the best of him.

"I thought Washington did a really good job of disrupting us and taking us out of our offense for the most part," said ASU head coach Herb Sendek who's team shot 32.1% from the field. "We weren't able, in some instances, to counter seamlessly when they took away our first option."

James Harden didn't practice all week for Arizona State (14-4, 4-2 Pac-10), but since his injury improved and he was cleared by the team's physician, he did start the game. Following a second three-point play in the first half, the freshman had 13 points as ASU led 22-15 with 7:43 left the opening stanza.

Washington (12-7, 3-3) never let the hosts open a sizeable margin thanks to their six baskets made behind the arc in the first half. Joel Smith's back-to-back threes sparked a 12-0 run that resulted in a 27-24 Husky edge at the 4:43 mark. Five consecutive missed free throws by the visitors allowed ASU to hang around, as they trailed 32-30 at halftime. Ultimately they never would regain the lead the rest of the night.

The second half began with Jamelle McMillan strutting his skills a bit in front of his hometown school. However, his three-point shot and one free throw were the only four points the Devils scored in nearly the first five minutes of the second half. Harden missed two front end 1 and 1 free throw shots and Jeff Pendergraph had just two points in the last twenty minutes. With both its offensive stars struggling, along with Ty Abbott's 2-9 shooting, it seemed inevitable that ASU would go down in defeat on Thursday night.

Ryan Appleby had a quiet night making just 2-10 baskets from three-point land. Yet, his second shot from downtown gave the visitors their first double digit lead of the contest, 60-50, with 3:47 left in the game. A large portion of the 8,995 in attendance then filed to the exits and those who stayed saw ASU surrender its first home game after winning the first 11 matches at Wells Fargo Arena this season.

"In order for us to win on the road against this team we had to do a lot of things right," said Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar. "If you show any weaknesses against Arizona State you're not gonna win the game. Early on they got us in transition, and some of that was due to our shot selection – we were shooting too early."

"When we settled down and were able to move the basketball, we got much better shots. But that team is difficult to play against and they're an efficiency machine. I give our guys a lot of credit hanging on the road, defending when we needed to defend, knocking free throws down…overall we just played good basketball and that's what you better play if you plan on beating Arizona State."

Harden paced ASU with 17 points, but was just 1-3 from the field in the second half. McMillan was the other Sun Devils in double digit scoring with 11. Jerren Shipp led his team in rebounds with seven. Jon Brockman had another typical stat night chipping in 21 points and 16 rebounds. Tim Morris was 3-5 behind the arc and tallied 11 points.

Washington struggled from the charity strip converting 19-28 shots, but ASU didn't fair much better making 22-30. The visitors had 42-38 rebound advantage, and collected 13 of those caroms on the offensive end. The Huskies were 9-22 on three pointers, compared to the Sun Devils' 5-24. Both teams had 14 turnovers apiece.

ASU's Saturday 5:00 pm match-up against sixth ranked Washington State, was a daunting task even before the Cougars fell 76-64 to Arizona. In light of that defeat, the Sun Devils know their challenge has just increased a few notches and anything but an 180 degree improvement from Thursday's night will result in a third consecutive Pac-10 loss.

"We have very little time to replay this one and prepare for another terrific basketball team," Sendek stated. "We'll watch the film and give the guys some very accurate and specific feedback, but our guys are understanding the constant level of excellence you need to be at to be competitive in this league."

"You don't have room; we don't have room, to be less than your best at any moment in time right now."

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