ASU Drops to Cal at Home

Ultimately Arizona State was no match to the solid defense of Cal. The Sun Devils lacked focus and enthusiasm which, in this league, are necessary for any performance. It was a disappointing showing by the Sun Devils at Wells Fargo Arena Saturday night. The final score of 76-73 does the Sun Devils more justice than they deserved.

Freshman Ty Abbott had 30 points, 24 of those coming from three point range. James Harden was the next best for the Devils with 11 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists. The freshmen's combined 41 points were not good enough when it mattered most though against a talented and resilient Cal team.

Abbott made a three pointer with three minutes remaining in the first half; it would be the devils only field goal for nearly the next 10 minutes. During the interim where the Devils couldn't score, Jeff Pendergraph picked up his second, third and fourth personal fouls, landing him on the bench with 16 minutes to go.

Pendergraph would later return for the Sun Devils with eight minutes to play, pick up his fifth personal foul in less than a minute and head for the bench finishing with three points. Harden fouled out with twenty seconds to play in the game.

Cal's star Ryan Anderson led the way for the Golden Bears with 28 points and 11 rebounds. Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher each scored in double digits for the visitors as well.

ASU scored 19 points from the beginning of the second half until there were two minutes on the clock, and were down by 13 points at that juncture. The maroon and gold proceeded to score 23 points in the final two minutes, capitalizing on three pointers from Abbott, Rihards Kuksiks and Derek Glasser who each had two three-point baskets, and one by Harden. Alas, it was too little too late, and the Bears came out on top, mainly due to the fact that ASU couldn't get a defensive stop late when they needed to.

After the game Abbott stated that not being able to get defensive stops when they needed them the most was frustrating. "We knew we had to win this game to keep our hopes to play in March," Abbott said. "We knew we needed this game and it just didn't work out for us."

Abbott and the entire ASU team showed signs of fatigue or boredom on the court. "Not so much that we were tired just that we weren't giving as much as we could I guess," said Abbott about the team's morale. He had no idea why either.

Coach Herb Sendek had no thoughts into why the devils were looking so shabby either. "We did not have the requisite energy level that is necessary to win in the PAC-10 today," he commented. "Our mental and passion tanks never got filled. As a result we were on fumes and never put ourselves where we really had a right to feel like we deserved to win. So I think without making the analysis real complicated, from our standpoint, our energy level wasn't anywhere near where it needed to be."

So what was going on Coach? "It would be impossible for anyone to know for sure," he said. "It most certainly doesn't serve us any value in attributing it to that cause. It is our responsibility every time we play to have a full tank. No one said that's easy, it's quite demanding, it's very grueling, it's a tremendous grind. It causes sometimes the very worst in you to fall out and sometimes brings the best. But if you want to look for an explanation from our standpoint I have a hard time right now stepping over that."

"I don't want to take anything away from Cal," he said. "They clearly and unequivocally deserved to win ok? They were by far the better team today."

Sendek noted that it is hard to describe Jeff Pendergraph's performance because he played for so little time tonight. "We milked it best we could but he fouled out in 16 minutes today," he remarked. "That doest give you a whole lot of room to make real fine discernments. Coupled with the fact that we had a deficit and he is very important to our basketball team."

Getting players motivated proved to be too hard a task tonight for Sendek ,and he said that he attempted everything he could to help but that it didn't work. "I tried a lot of different things," he said. "Unfortunately I wasn't able to hit the high inside fastball today. I tried as many things as I could think of and I struck out." Sometimes basketball is like that Sendek said, but he was not making excuses for his players.

ASU's next game is the Thursday February 21st against Washington State in Pullman. ASU is now 16-8 (6-6) and are currently fourth in the PAC 10.

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