Both teams sound defensively but ASU edges UA

UA forward Jordan Hill shoots over ASUs Jeff Pendergraph in the Wildcats 53-47 loss to the Sun Devils Wednesday night in McKale Center. Hill finished the game with 16 points, but it wasnt enough for Arizona to overcome its third straight loss to ASU.

UA forward Jordan Hill shoots over ASU’s Jeff Pendergraph in the Wildcats’ 53-47 loss to the Sun Devils Wednesday night in McKale Center. Hill finished the game with 16 points, but it wasn’t enough for Arizona to overcome its third straight loss to ASU.

Lance Madden

Arizona was trying to defend its home court and its dignity. ASU was trying to defend its recent title as the hardwood powerhouse in the state.

The latter prevailed.

The ASU men’s basketball team (16-3, 5-2 Pacific 10 Conference) was able to use late free throws and a stifling defense to suppress Arizona (11-8, 2-5) in a 53-47 Sun Devil win in McKale Center on Wednesday night before a sold-out crowd of 14,640.

“”It was a hard-fought game,”” said ASU head coach Herb Sendek. “”It could have gone either way, and I think both teams obviously played better on defense than they did on offense.””

ASU guard Derek Glasser drilled a 3-pointer from the left side with 1:39 left, putting the Sun Devils up 43-40.

With 28 seconds left, a free throw from James Harden gave the Devils a 46-42 lead, but Zane Johnson hit a pull-up 3-pointer over 6-foot-9 forward Jeff Pendergraph, bringing the Wildcats back within one, 46-45.

After Glasser missed one of two free throws to put ASU up by two, Arizona had a chance to tie the game or take the lead.

But with 12.6 seconds left, Jordan Hill was whistled for an illegal screen and then UA associate head coach Mike Dunlap was called for a technical foul for his reaction to the questionable call. Harden made both attempts from the free-throw line and ASU got the ball back.

“”We didn’t even get a chance to tie it, and that was the disappointing part to me,”” said UA interim head coach Russ Pennell.

With 6.5 seconds left, Arizona fell down 51-45. UA forward Chase Budinger leapt for a layup, but he was fouled by Harden, who then hit the floor hard. There was a little scuffle under the basket between all players on the court – enough to make the players on both benches stand up.

“”I drove to the basket. I think he was just trying to make a play on the defensive end,”” Budinger said. “”He kind of just lost control and came down on me, and got tangled up in me. He fell pretty hard on the ground.””

Harden was helped off the floor and Budinger sank both of his free throws.

It wasn’t enough, however, as two free throws by Derek Glasser sealed the win for the Sun Devils, contributing to 17 total free throws by both teams in the final 2:03, and 10 in the last 19 seconds.

Glasser scored 11 of his 13 points in the final 4:09.

“”Coach said to me, ‘Derek, I just need five minutes,'”” Glasser said. “”So I went back in those last five minutes and gave him everything I had.””

Pendergraph ended a 7-0 run for the Sun Devils with a backboard-bending dunk with 2:43 left, providing ASU with a 40-37 lead in the a game that saw nine lead changes.

The Wildcats went into the locker room at halftime with a 21-18 lead, but the gap seemed much larger than the scoreboard reflected.

Neither team shot well from the 3-point line in the game. ASU was 5-for-28 from long range, and Arizona was 2-for-16.

“”I thought we did a better job at rotating the last couple of days. We’ve been working on that,”” Budinger said. “”… But they also shot poorly, too.””

Arizona shot just 29.8 percent (14-for-47), but it also held ASU to 16-for-56 shooting (28.6 percent), marking the Devils’ worst shooting night since Nov. 23, 1998, when the Devils shot just 13-for-52 (25 percent) in a loss to Utah.

“”We stopped them on the defensive end and Coach Pennell gave us props for that,”” Hill said. “”We played real hard. ASU is a real good team that scores a lot of points, and we held them to 53.

“”If we keep playing that hard,”” Hill added, “”the sky’s the limit.””