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Sun Devils secure in win over Huskies

Victory over No. 13 Washington puts Arizona State in today's Pac-10 title game.

March 14, 2009|Chris Foster

Jeff Pendergraph, Arizona State's center, knew where he and his teammates were headed even before the Pacific 10 Conference tournament began. The plan now is to go there in style.

The No. 23 Sun Devils were an NCAA tournament shoo-in and are looking to enter the field as a conference tournament champion.

A 75-65 victory over No. 13 Washington on Friday put Arizona State in today's title game against USC at Staples Center. Another victory would allow the Sun Devils to spend Selection Sunday basking in the glow instead of sweating out the moment, which happened a year ago when they were snubbed.

"Right now, I don't think we're worried about that," said Pendergraph, who had 18 points and seven rebounds in the victory over top-seeded Washington. "Our goal right now is to win this tournament. So we're not looking too far ahead."

Still, he admitted, "it is a lot better knowing that tomorrow, regardless, we're going to be comfortable. We're not gritting our teeth and biting our nails."

The Sun Devils (24-8) had to do enough of that on Friday, as they built a 21-point lead in the first half then watched the feisty Huskies (25-8) demolish it in a physical and highly combustible second half.

Washington took a 60-58 lead with 6 minutes 16 seconds left. The Sun Devils then closed the game with a 17-5 run, despite getting only one point from sophomore James Harden during that stretch.

"Our shot selection can bite us in the butt," Washington Coach Lorenzo Romar said.

Washington shot 37.5% for the game.

Harden had done enough. He had 24 points, 15 in the first half when the Sun Devils went on a 29-5 run and led, 38-21, at halftime. It was the smallest amount of points Washington had scored in a half this season. Harden also had nine rebounds while polishing his resume should he jump to the NBA after the season.


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