Not so last night, when Arizona State basketball fell to Washington 68-59 in a pivotal Pac-12 contest, which will have a major impact on ASU’s NCAA tournament hopes.
For the 10,004 fans in attendance at Wells Fargo Arena, it was easy to identify the culprit for the Sun Devils: offensive rebounding.
During the two teams’ first meeting this season, three weeks ago in Seattle, Washington scored 50 points and out-rebounded ASU by 16 to win 96-92. Last night, the Huskies only had 28 points in the paint but once again controlled the boards, 35-22.
Most damaging, Washington converted 14 offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points.
Arizona State coach Herb Sendek spoke directly to the rebounding issue in his post-game comments.
“They missed 28 shots from the field and got 14 back,” Sendek said. “You don’t need to be a math major to know that’s 50 percent and way too high.”
In this game, it was clear that Washington’s athletic big men had an advantage over the Sun Devil front line. They kept ASU’s seven-foot centers, Jordan Bachynski and Ruslan Pateev, in check all evening.
Even ASU’s prolific combo of freshman guard Jahii Carson and senior wing Carrick Felix were mostly contained. Carson shot 3 of 14 from the field, finishing with 10 points, while Felix — playing in his final home game — shot just 2 of 6, finishing with eight points and six rebounds.
ASU also revisited its season-long free throw shooting problem, missing seven of 15 from the foul line.
Carson, for his part, made no excuses for the Sun Devils’ off night. “Guys have film; they’re not going to let me come out and try to get 30 again,” he said. “I wasn’t really hitting any shots. Wide-open shots I was missing. Shots I normally make I was missing.”
For the Huskies, Scott Suggs scored 16 points, including a key 3-pointer with 25 seconds left in the game. Abdul Gaddy contributed 13 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Arizona State rallied late in the contest, to the approval of the Sun Devil faithful. Forward Eric Jacobsen put back a Carson miss with 3:49 left to close the score to 57-56. However, Washington maintained its composure and ended up scoring 11 of the game’s final 14 points.
The post-season outlook ASU (20-8, 9-6 Pac-12) now becomes cloudy. The Sun Devils close the regular-season on the road against UCLA on Wednesday, and then face USC and rival Arizona. The Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas begins March 13.