The emotions from Senior Night drifted out of Wells Fargo Arena in a span of 90 minutes.
With 10,004 fans at Wells Fargo Arena for the ASU men’s basketball team’s final home game, the Sun Devils (20-8, 9-6 Pac-12) suffered a crippling 68-59 loss to Washington in their run for an NCAA Tournament bid.
ASU and UW played in similar fashion when they met the first time on Feb. 2 in Seattle. Saturday, the Huskies (15-13, 7-8 Pac-12) and the Sun Devils both shot around 48 percent from the floor, but the Huskies had an 33-19 rebounding edge that proved to be the difference once again.
Washington scored 14 second chance points off 14 offensive rebounds. Senior center Aziz N’Diaye had four of his game-high 10 rebounds on the offensive end.
“They’ve got a bunch of gorillas, a bunch of athletic guys that go get it,” senior wing Carrick Felix said. “They definitely (got it) on the offensive rebounds, and they did a helluva job at it.”
The Sun Devils played both of their centers, junior Jordan Bachynski and senior Ruslan Pateev, at the same time with 15:38 left in attempt to address the rebounding issue. The experiment lasted three minutes without much success.
However, coach Herb Sendek’s attempt to go small by playing sophomore forward Jonathan Gilling and freshman forward Eric Jacobsen brought ASU back in the game.
Jacobsen entered the game with ASU down 53-41 with 9:54 left and played nearly the entire stretch. He scored four points in 10 minutes but gave ASU a physical body in the post.
“Eric was certainly a silver lining for us tonight,” Sendek said. “I was really encouraged by his continued progress, but the one thing Eric has that is needed against a team like Washington, as we now found out for the second time, he has a physical presence that quite frankly our team doesn’t have through the ranks and doesn’t match up real well with these guys.”
The Sun Devils trimmed to deficit to a point, 57-56, with 3:49 left but never took the lead. They missed five of their last six shots while the Huskies were 2-of-3 from the floor to end the game.
They were 6-for-6 at the line in the final 3:49 and shot 75 percent at the charity stripe while ASU continued to struggle at the line. It went 8-of-15 from the line.
“Maybe the thing that once again stands out more than anything when you look at those columns is our free throw shooting,” Sendek said.
The Sun Devils once again made it tougher to get in the NCAA Tournament with this loss.
Washington was 88th in RPI according to RealTimeRPI.com and ASU’s RPI will surely drop from 72th.
There’s still a shot the Sun Devils can make the tournament, but they will play their final three games on the road. They travel to UCLA Wednesday.
“That’s the thing about this – thank God we have a game next week,” Felix said. “We just got to go and prepare for that. I think we’ll be OK. I just think we need to get back to the drawing board and give back to doing the little things. I think definitely we would’ve solidified it wit this win, now we have an even bigger task.”
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