‘Composure' Lifts ASU to Improbable Win

LOS ANGELES - Third time was the charm on Friday the 13th. ASU was winless this season against Washington, and with a 24-hour turnaround and seven-man rotation all signs pointed to a Husky season sweep. Someone forgot to remind the Sun Devils of their odds. ASU led by as many as 21 points and after briefly relinquishing the lead prevailed to a 75-65 win over Washington in the Pac-10 tourney.

"Coach has a lot of courage and he trusts in us a lot," said ASU guard James Harden. We were seven or eight guys short, but we just had to play hard and do what we do.

"We are conditioned to play 40 minutes each game, so guys stepped up late in the game and made big shots and made big free throws. We kept our composure and got it done."

Even though the contest was full of ebbs and flows (the lead changed seven times), the early goings on Friday night didn't necessarily point towards a Sun Devil victory. Arizona State (24-8) trailed 6-0 and looked disorganized and overmatched by Washington's (25-8) athleticism.

It took over ten minutes for the maroon and gold to grab their first lead, 12-11, at the 9:44 mark, and an avalanche of offense ensued the rest of the period. ASU went on a 26-6 run, in large part to Ty Abbott's 12 points, to shock those in attendance at the Staples Center, and grab a 38-17 lead with 26 seconds left in the half. A rare four-point play by Washington ended the half with ASU in front 38-21.

The second half proved to be an even wilder affair.

The Huskies outscored ASU 38-16 and claimed a 55-54 edge 8:16 left in the game. It seemed as if the Sun Devil magic has run out for the night and the odds that were stacked so high against them were finally coming to fruition.

Derek Glasser scored 12 of his 16 second half points in the last seven minutes of the contest, and was instrumental in tonight's victory.

"Whenever things hit the fan and people are booing him, that's when he uses it and it boosts him through the roof," said Pendergraph of Glasser. "He's just steps it up a notch and thrives on it. That's credit to him to being a big time point guard."

ASU outscored Washington 17-5 in the last 6:16 of the game.

"I didn't really make any adjustments," said head coach Herb Sendek. "We just talked about maintaining our poise and composure and giving great effort. We talked about the need to try and get some stops. We talked about hunkering down on defense and just maintaining out composure."

The game was arguably the mostly heatly contested ASU has been involved in this year. Washington's signature physical defense backed fired on them mainly in the first half, and in the second stanza emotions reached a boiling point.

Harden was fouled by Quincy Pondexter on a scored layup at the 13:43 mark. Harden and Husky guard Venoy Overton bumped each other, with the later falling on the floor and having Glasser walk right over him.

Harden, Overton and Glasser were all called for technical fouls on that play.

"It was just a great competitive game," Harden stated. "Washington is a great team. We're competitive as well, so guys were playing hard."

Harden paced all players on the floor with 24 points and nine rebounds. Jeff Pendergraph had 16. Glasser paced his team with five assists. Isaiah Thomas had 17 to lead his team.

ASU held the Huskies to 23.3 percent shooting in the first twenty minutes, and 37.5 percent for the night, while shooting 50 percent for the game themselves. They won the battle of the boards 36-33, but also gave up 12 offensive rebounds. The Devils were 8-16 beyond the arc, while the Huskies were 4-13 from that range.

For the first time in school history the Sun Devils will play in the Pac-10 tournament final where they will meet the winner of UCLA and USC. Tip-off is 3 pm on Saturday.

This victory naturally further elevates ASU's chances for a better seeding in next week's NCAA tournament. While the Sun Devil nation debates the when and where, the team chooses to focus on the here and now.

"I don't think we're worrying about the NCAA tournament right now," Pendergraph claimed. "We are in one (tournament) right now. Our goal right now is to win it. So we aren't looking too far ahead. That's not how you win championships.

"But it does feel a lot better to know that at the end of tomorrow, regardless we are going to be kind of comfortable on selection Sunday, not gritting our teeth the whole time and biting our nails."


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