Arizona State out-guns Huskies

SEATTLE - The most competitive Pac-10 season in decades is coming down to the wire for those teams mired in the middle of the conference. With this afternoon's results, one team put itself squarely into the thick of the competition for a coveted NCAA tournament bid, while another saw its tournament chances potentially flushed down the toilet.

In the end, Arizona State's lights-out shooting and impenetrable 2-3 zone were too much for Washington to overcome, as they defeated the Washington Huskies, 77-63 Saturday at Bank of America Arena. With the victory, the Sun Devils improved to 7-7 in conference play, while the Huskies dropped to 6-9.

"Tonight we weren't taking care of the ball, we were uninspired, and the team that should have won, won tonight," Husky forward Jon Brockman said. "They came out with a lot more energy and focus and they got it done."

Freshmen sensation James Harden led the Sun Devils with 25 points, but it was their balanced team play that did in the Huskies. The Sun Devils got three or more 3-pointers from three different players and accumulated 18 team assists, led by Derek Glasser's seven. They also racked up nine steals, with three players nabbing two or more, and shot over 50 percent from the field and from 3-point range.

"It was a great team effort today," ASU Head Coach Herb Sendek said of the Sun Devils' win. "Everybody chipped in, guys performed their specific roles incredibly well today. That's the best way to summarize the win today. Every guy we put in today did his thing. It wasn't extraordinary things necessarily but what they were supposed to do individually and collectively."

"They were in a decent rhythm and they were able to knock shots down," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said of ASU's play. "We had to come back probably one too many times tonight."

The Huskies conversely, did not knock shots down. Ryan Appleby - the newly-crowned all-time Husky 3-point record holder - shot 4 of 15 from three on his Senior Day, as Washington ended up shooting only 35 percent from the field. The other UW senior - Tim Morris - fouled out with 7:33 left in the game. He finished three points and four rebounds. Brockman led the Huskies in scoring with 21 points. He added 15 rebounds for his 20th double-double of the year.

"We settled for a lot of outside shots," explained the visibly disappointed Brockman. "A couple of them were good, but some of them were contested and too quick and that's just playing into their hands with that zone."

With so much riding on the game for both teams, Washington couldn't seem to find any rhythm on either end of the floor until the waning moments of the first act, committing nine turnovers and being out rebounded 24-18 by the quicker Sun Devils. At one point UW went without points for a stretch of nearly six minutes.

"When we started out the game and went through a stretch where we couldn't buy a bucket, it made me nervous because a lot of times that can lead into other things dropping off, and I think that's kind of what happened," Brockman said.

Both teams roared out of the gates coming out of the break, with Arizona State's Rihards Kuksiks burying a three moments into the half to set the tone. Both teams surged ahead, as the pace picked up and the momentum briefly took a turn towards Washington's favor. Unfortunately for Washington, every big played seemed to be followed by a Sun Devil 3-pointer. The Devils shot a blistering 52% from downtown on 13-25 shooting, shredding the Huskies' lackluster defense with precision passing out of the post and Washington had no answer.

"Penetration and the draw and kick got us tonight and it got us at Oregon," explained Romar. "Overall, more dribble penetration, but there were a couple times where we got lost in transition and they hit a couple threes."

"I thought we had a real collective purpose," Sendek added. "We have great kids. They battle and I'm just really proud of the way they came together and played with great purpose today."

The Huskies managed to close the deficit to five at one point early in the second half, but it was short-lived as Arizona State dominated play in the second half, eventually stretching their lead out to as many as 20 points.

"Obviously, Arizona State played an outstanding game," Romar said. "Today, it's the old cliché, they were the better team overall."

The Sun Devils now head home to face UCLA on Thursday, while Washington ventures to Northern California to face Stanford. With the win, ASU now gets to determine it's own fate, while the Huskies have to win out on the road to have any chance at an NCAA tournament berth.

"I know we just blew it," concluded Brockman. "We could have passed up four teams if we had won tonight."

Instead it's Arizona State that gets to reap the rewards of winning on the road in the Pac-10.
Statistics:
Points: Brockman 21, Appleby 12, Dentmon 11, Pondexter 9, Overton 5, Morris 3, Wallace 1, Bryan-Amaning 1
Minutes: Brockman 36, Appleby 33, Dentmon 27, Pondexter 26, Overton 21, Morris 21, Smith 15, Bryan-Amaning 13, Wallace 8
Rebounds: Brockman 15, Pondexter 7, Morris 4, Dentmon 4, Overton 3, Smith 3, TEAM 3, Appleby 2, Wallace 1, Bryan-Amaning 1
Assists: Overton 2, Appleby 2, Brockman 1, Morris 1, Smith 1, Dentmon 1
Steals: Morris 3, Dentmon 2, Appleby 1, Bryan-Amaning 1
Blocks: Brockman 1, Smith 1

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