Bench Comes Through Against Oregon State

Today's contest in Corvallis was a desperation game for both teams. Oregon State was trying to avoid being the first ever Pac-10 team to go 0-18 in league play. Arizona State was trying to lock a Big Dance berth or at least come very close to securing one. With its stars struggling on offense, the Sun Devils were forced to turn to their reserves. And did they ever deliver in a 77-64 win.

The final score may suggest a comfortable win. However, there were many anxious moments for Arizona State (19-11, 9-9 Pac-10) in Gill Coliseum this afternoon. Oregon State (6-24, 0-18) converted on 8 of 17 shots from beyond the arc in the first half and had a 22-20 lead. An 8-0 run by the visitors snatched the lead back for good, and following a buzzer beater by Jamelle McMillan ASU enjoyed a 38-30 halftime lead.

In the second stanza the Beavers cooled off considerably from three-point territory, going just 5-22. Nonetheless, Sun Devil turnovers allowed the hosts to keep matters close. Jeff Pendergraph was assessed his third and fourth foul (the later being a technical one) with just over three minutes elapsed in the second half. Consequently, the junior had to be taken out and newcomer Eric Boateng was called upon in relief.

The Duke transfer played his best game in the maroon and gold scoring a career-high 12 points on 5-6 shooting. With James Harden and Rihards Kuksiks combining for just nine points, McMillan's 12 points (also a career-high) and Jerren Shipp's eight points made up the difference.

Freshman Ty Abbott, who has been streaky in the last several games scored a team high 18 points, and tied a personal best with eight rebounds. As Oregon State was closing the deficit, trailing just 63-60, the Phoenix Desert Vista standout was instrumental in the team's 13-4 run to close out the game.

ASU was sizzling from the field converting at a 56.8% clip, while Oregon State was just 33.8% in that category. The Sun Devil had 16 turnovers, but won the rebound battle 31-26. Harden scored just one field goal and six total points, but also registered 8 assists and six steals. Lathen Wallace had a game high 22 points for the Beavers.

For the first time since the Pac-10 tournament was brought back this decade, ASU will enjoy the first day (some refer that day as a play-in round) off and play on Thursday. Tied for fifth place and following the double overtime win by Washington State over Washington, the Sun Devils will face USC Thursday at Noon in the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Views seem to be split if ASU, by virtue of today's win has already earned a ticket to the NCAA Tournament, or will they need a win against USC to firmly be off the bubble and into the dance for the first time since 2003. The Sun Devils have done very well in their proverbial must win games the last three weeks, one of them ironically a home win over the Trojans. If Thursday's contest qualifies as another must win showdown, hopefully the maroon and gold's track record will come through once again.

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