Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dogged Devils Defeated in Desert

By Wally Mersereau

In a hard-fought game, its closest of the Pac-10 season, Stanford finally wore down a determined Arizona State team before 4,000 fans in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe. The Cardinal was up by only 5 at half time, 32-27 and ASU never let up in the second half, even though it was out-played by Stanford which built a peak lead of 20 points and then held on to win by 18, 72-54. ASU scored the first basket, but just over a minute into the game Stanford took the lead and never gave it back. The first half was worrisome, the second half more reassuring.

ASU played without Simon and Burke and I doubt they would have made a decisive difference. ASU had excellent play from its entire remaining roster who streamed on and off in Charli Turner Thorne's patented style.

Tara also substituted freely in the first half, with 10 players seeing action in the first 9 minutes. For the entire game, there were 8 players with 10 or more minutes, followed by Sarah with 8 minutes. Chiney played 30 minutes, finishing with 8 points, all in the second half, and a team-high 11 rebounds. After being out of 3 games, Toni returned, played only one minute and looked rusty.

Stanford left its 3-point shooting game in Oregon, with Jeanette making the only one out of only one attempt. I think this was primarily due to Arizona State's aggressive defense which kept tight pressure on the Cardinal for the entire game. ASU also made only one three-point shot.

Considering how aggressive and and physical the game was, I thought the refs seemed restrained in their whistle blowing. There were times when it looked as if there were half a dozen players shoulder-to-shoulder fighting for rebounds under the basket and many scrambles on the floor for loose balls. Stanford did best at the free-throw line, making 25 of 33, or 68%. ASU made 19 of 28 attempts from the line. As indicators of the intensity of play by both teams: Stanford had 17 turnovers to ASU's 15, 11 steals to ASU's 13 and 9 blocks to ASU's 4.

The Big Four lived up to their leadership roles. Lindy, Mel, Joslyn, Mikaela and Sarah also all did well. Jeanette had four fouls and sat for quite a while in the second half. Mel filled in capably for her during that time and throughout the game. We are fortunate to have her back.

The ASU band had an abundance of tubas and played well, including the national anthem. Sparky the Sun Devil was present, but was as unexciting as ever. ASU should give him a make-over. He seems as dull and dated as Reddy Kilowatt.

It was a clear, cool day in the Phoenix area with a high temperature of about 45 degrees under a sunny, cloudless sky. The temperature was down to 40 degrees at game time. The air was clear and the surrounding mountains were sharply visible.

This was a challenging game and a solid test for the Cardinal. ASU lost to Stanford by 47 points at Maples and should feel good about achieving its announced goal of doing far better at home.

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