Team Effort Lifts ASU Over Cal on Senior Day

In his last home appearance at Wells Fargo Arena Jeff Pendergraph wanted to give the fans sometime to remember him by and delivered scoring a game high 27 points to propel the Sun Devils to an 83-66 victory over the Golden Bears. Arizona State (22-8, 11-7 Pac-10) badly needed a win on Saturday and they got just that.

Head coach Herb Sendek's squad was suffering through a three-game losing streak with the most recent outing being a paltry effort against Stanford, a team they beat by 30 points on the road earlier in the year.

Through the first six minutes neither team looked particularly sharp and the action was marred with missed shots, offensive rebounds and turnovers. The Sun Devils were the first to strike and with three pointers from Ty Abbott, Derek Glasser, and Rihards Kuksiks took a 24-11 lead forcing Cal (22-9, 11-7) to take a timeout.

Arizona State kept the pressure on the rest of the first half shooting 53.6% from the field and 45.5% from beyond the arc. The impressive display of shooting combined with some tough defense was good enough to give the Sun Devils a 42-26 lead at the half.

Perhaps the player with the most impact on the 16-point lead was Ty Abbott. For a player who has struggled mightily all year, Abbott came out with perhaps his best half of basketball all season recording three points, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal.

"There wasn't anybody who watched the game this afternoon who couldn't help but recognize the invaluable contribution Ty had," Sendek said. "What a great reminder for all of our players that you don't have to score to be special or to be really important and valuable. His effort was terrific. Eight rebounds, two blocks, two steals and countless times he went on the ground for loose balls."

The second half was almost equally as impressive for the Sun Devils. High percentage shooting from the field and the three-point line remained constant and their lead never dwindled below nine points.

Pendergraph also saved his best for the second half accounting for fifteen of his twenty-seven points and six of his ten rebounds.

"It was good. Everything just felt flowing," Pendergraph said. "Nothing was forced. It was a really good game. Not just me, but for everybody, the fans. Everybody was just so into it. It was a great atmosphere for senior day. I couldn't ask for anything better."

Coach Sendek echoed similar sentiments.

"You always want to win on Senior Day," said Sendek, "and today was especially good that everybody stepped up for Jeff because he's meant so much to our program both on and off the court. He most certainly led the way. What a spectacular performance he had this afternoon.

"As we're happy for the team, we're particularly rejoicing on Jeff's behalf because he's been a tremendous player and a fantastic ambassador for our program and university for four years."

While the departure of Pendergraph after this season is certain, Sun Devil fans are also dealing with the reality that this could have been sophomore James Harden's last home game in the maroon and gold as well. The star guard remained blasé when talking about the subject, saying he had no thoughts about this being his last game at Wells Fargo Arena, but had some kind words for his teammate.

"I was worried about the game. I was worried about winning. That was the most important thing. After the game I thought about it, but it's something I have to think about after the season, after our last game."

"(Pendergraph) was the heart and soul of this program. He started from when they were struggling to now when we're pretty good. He's been through it all and we look back at him as the leader of this team. He was the heart and soul of it and he brought us through this last home stretch and few games averaging a double-double. He's playing phenomenal."

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