Boateng shines in last home game

On an emotional day where three Sun Devils were playing their final home game, Eric Boateng ended his career at the Wells Fargo Arena with a solid 16-point, 14-rebound effort to give ASU a 56-46 victory over visiting UCLA.

The atmosphere in the arena was electric as 9039 fans stood on their feet to cheer on seniors Jerren Shipp, Eric Boateng, and Derek Glasser as they played their final home game in a Sun Devil uniform; and what a memorable one it was.

"It was a good game, you have to give credit to UCLA," Boateng said, "they really played hard and made us bring a better side of us out today. It was a good win, I enjoyed it."

Boateng added four blocks to go along with his 16 points and 14 rebounds, but was quick to point out that his individual performance would be meaningless without a win.

"It feels good to win, first of all. That's the aim," Boateng pointed out. "I really didn't care about anything else but ending the regular season with a win, that's the way I wanted to do it, and that's been my main focus, it's been the only thing that's ran through my mind, so the win is the most meaningful thing to me, everything else is great but just the fact that we won and I'm just so thankful for my teammates and the coaches for us all coming together and making it happen.

"That's the most meaningful thing to me."

And when asked whether he felt it was his best game ever, the man in the middle once again humbled himself by putting the team first.

"I don't know," Boateng declared. "I've always no matter just tried to give as much to the team as possible and that's what I'm going to continue to do. I enjoy playing here, I enjoy my teammates, I enjoy the coaches, I'm thankful for the opportunity that I have and I just want to keep this thing going because it's fun."

The Sun Devils opened the game on a 13-0 run, which prompted two early timeouts by UCLA, and got the already emotional arena roaring, still the seniors acknowledged how the pre-game introductions with their families made it hard to focus on basketball in the early going.

"It's hard because we have a routine. You warm up and you try to prepare yourself mentally and you go through there and it almost takes your mind away a little bit, so I kind of just had to slap myself and say ‘hey, we have a game here that we really have to win,' so it was hard, but I enjoyed it and I'm thankful."

ASU's all-time assist leader, Glasser, reflected those sentiments and had plenty to say about the performance of Boateng as well.

"It was definitely an emotional roller-coaster, going out there before the game and saying thank you to everyone who has been with us for four years throughout the lows and the highs, so I hope we can get back to the NCAA Tournament this year and keep this going.

"Can't say enough about him (Boateng), the way he's playing right now he's carrying us. Every game we come in here and we say it's his best game of the year, and the next time I come in here it's his best game of the year, so I hope I can keep saying that."

The win gives ASU 12 wins in conference and 22 overall, yet the team is still on the bubble as far as the NCAA Tournament is concerned, but right now all the team can do is take care of business in the Pac-10 tournament and hope for the best.

"I think it means a lot to the program, twelfth win in the conference is the most since I've been here," Glasser mentioned. "Guys really played their hearts out tonight and we came away with the win. It was a big one for us, we know we needed it, and that's how we played tonight.

"I'm not on the committee so I don't know, but I know that we need to go up to California and take care of business. Our mindset is to go up there and win the tournament, we don't want to lose in the first round, so we're gonna focus on the first round game, we don't know who we play yet, but we're going to be dialed in and focused for whoever we play, and we still need to win some games, that's for sure."

The fact that the team was even competing for the Pac-10 title is something that surprised many as ASU was predicted to finish 7th in the Pac-10 in the pre-season polls.

"We just have such a strong bond, we're like a family," Glasser exclaimed. "We always cover for each other whether it's offense or defense and even off the court, we always have each other's back. Coach always says five is better than one and that's how we play.

"I definitely think that when we heard that we were picked seventh, some polls picked us tenth that we were like ‘wow,' We in the locker room always felt like we could win the conference, and I don't know what it's going to end up, we'll probably be a game short, but second place for this team is great, and obviously we wanted to win the conference, but we're happy with our season so far but we know there is still a lot of unfinished business and we're definitely hungry and want to get back to the NCAA Tournament."


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