Sun Devils fall in home finale

Sun Devils fall in home finale

In desperate need of a win to keep their NCAA tournament chances alive, Arizona State was upset at home by Washington on Saturday, falling to the Huskies 68-59 on Senior Night at Wells Fargo Arena.

Despite trailing by as many as 13 points in the second half, Arizona State (20-8, 9-6) was able to trim the Washington lead to just one on an Eric Jacobsen lay-up with 3:49 remaining to play, which capping a 9-0 run by the Sun Devils and bringing the crowd of 10,004 fans to their feet. The Huskies though would go on to outscore ASU 11-3 the rest of the way, wrestling a much needed win from the Sun Devils and spoiling the final home game for the Arizona State senior quartet.

Similar to their first meeting of the season in Seattle, Washington had their way with the Sun Devils in the paint and on the backboards, dominating the undersized Arizona State front line on both ends of the court. The Huskies out-rebounded ASU by 13, including 14 offensive rebounds, while also scoring 28 points in the paint.

"I thought the primary difference, just like our first game, was rebounding," said Arizona State Head Coach Herb Sendek afterwards. "They missed 28 shots from the field and got 14 of them back. You don't have to be a math major to know that's 50% and way too high. I thought their perimeter people did a really good job of driving the basketball and consistently made shots up over us. Just using their length and size and they were really in a good rhythm."

Washington center Aziz N'diaye led the charge down low for the Huskies once again, just as he did in the two teams' first meeting, pulling down 10 rebounds, four on the offensive end. Washington was able to capitalize on their rebounding advantage, scoring 14 second chance points to help stymie any Sun Devil threat late in the game.

"They've got a bunch of gorillas, a bunch of athletic guys who go get it," said an exhausted and frustrated Carrick Felix. "They're definitely good at offensive rebounding, I can tell you that, and they did a hell of a job at it."

Scott Suggs was one of three Washington players to score in double figures on Saturday and led all scorers with 16 points on 6-10 shooting in the win.

Jahii Carson, who scored a career-high against Washington earlier this season, was one of three Sun Devils to score in double figures - all three of which scored 10 points - but struggled to find his rhythm against the long and athletic Huskies. Carson was just 3-14 shooting from the field, while also adding a team-high seven assists.

"I busted them up, up there and guys have film so they're of course not going to let me come out and get 30 again," he said. "It's just I wasn't really hitting any shots. Wide open shoots I was missing and lay-ups I normally hit were missing. It was just an off night but my teammates stepped up and we got some energy going, but it wasn't enough."

To combat the Washington front court and their rebounding issues, Sendek experimented in the second half, playing both Ruslan Pateev and Jordan Bachynski together for the first time this season. However, it was actually the seldom-used freshman Eric Jacobsen who helped the Sun Devils climb out their hole in the second half, providing a spark off the jump and attacking the Washington interior on both ends of the floor.

In just 10 minutes of action, Jacobsen added four points on 2-2 shooting and one rebound, but was able to frustrate N'Diaye and alter a number of Husky shot attempts as ASU made its run.

"Just on both ends of the floor, he gives us a physical presence," said Sendek of Jacobsen. "He's strong, he's sturdy. You had to love the way he was posting up; he was low, he was wide. He was demanding the ball. He did a good job on the defensive end as well. Eric was certainly a silver lining for us tonight."

In the end though, it wasn't enough for the Sun Devils, who once again were undone by their shooting woes from the free throw line. Despite shooting a season best 15-18 from the stripe in Wednesday's contest against Washington State, ASU reverted back to its old self, sinking just 8-15 against the Huskies, including just 4-9 in the second half, halting much of their momentum as they made their push.

"Maybe the thing that stands out again is our free throw shooting," remarked Sendek. "We were 8-15 but missed two front ends of one and one's, so we're 8-17, that's obviously nine points. Not that we expect to have all nine and be perfect but in a game where you have a shot to tie it late, you'd certainly like some of those points."

With the win, the Huskies completed their season sweep of the Sun Devils, dropping ASU into fifth place in the Pac-12 conference standings. Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar improved to 20-5 all-time against Arizona State in his coaching career.

ASU finished the year 15-4 at Wells Fargo Arena and just one win shy of equaling a school-record for home wins in a season.

Playing in what could be his final game in front of the hometown crowd, senior Carrick Felix struggled for most of the game, finishing with just eight points on 2-6 shooting, including 1-4 from behind the three point line while also adding six rebounds.

"It was a great feeling being out there," he said. "The fan support, everybody cheering us on and just to see the outcome of the crowd and how many people actually came out to support us was great. But it was a tough loss, being that that was my last game at Wells Fargo Arena. But I can't be all depressed about it. I've just got to knock it off and get back to work because we're not done yet."

The Sun Devils still have three games remaining on the schedule, all of which will be on the road, starting on Thursday when they take on UCLA in the newly re-modeled Pauley Pavilion.

Saturday's loss to the Huskies puts the Sun Devils in a difficult situation, most likely needing a sweep of the Los Angeles schools next week to keep their hopes of an NCAA tournament at-large bid alive. After that, they'll take on Arizona in Tucson before heading to Las Vegas for the Pac-12 tournament.

"We've got three away games against some of the better Pac-12 teams and we've just got to make sure we take care of business with that or our NCAA (tournament) hopes are gone," said Felix.

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