Comeback falls short against Huskies

Jahii Carson led ASU with 32 points in the win

Despite career-highs in scoring from Jahii Carson, 32 points, and Jon Gilling, 22 points, Arizona State lost a nail-biter on Saturday, falling to the University of Washington in Seattle, 96-92.

The Sun Devils erased a 15-point second half deficit as Jon Gilling sank his sixth three point basket of the game, evening the score at 89 and setting up wild final minute of play at Alaska Airlines Arena.

Washington's Azizi N'Diaye hauled in his fourth offensive rebound of the night and converted a three point play to put the Huskies ahead once again with 34 seconds to go. Following a Carrick Felix miss three point shot, Washington would extend its lead to five on a pair of C.J. Wilcox free throws before Jahii Carson knocked down his first three point shot of the game, bringing the Sun Devils back within two with just under 14 seconds to play.

A five second violation whistled against the Huskies on the ensuing inbounds play - the second such violation of the game against Washington - gave Arizona State (17-5, 6-3) one last chance to finish their unlikely comeback. But a Carson leaner in the lane would rim out and two more Wilcox free throws would preserve the win for the Huskies, putting an end to Washington's four game losing streak.

"I wanted to drive the basketball, I knew we were in the bonus and knew I could either draw a foul and knock down free throws or hit the floater," said Carson on the final ASU possession. "At that point in time, I don't have too much time, the jump shot isn't the best opportunity so I wanted to attack the rim and I think that was the best I could get."

For the second consecutive game, the Sun Devils found themselves in an early hole as Washington jumped ahead by 11 behind a 12-1 in the game's opening minutes. ASU managed to close the gap to just eight by the break, thanks in large part to shooting 64% from the field.

After pulling within six points just minutes into the second half, a technical foul on Arizona State Head Coach Herb Sendek ignited a 9-0 run by the Huskies, giving Washington its biggest lead of the game and setting the stage for ASU to begin its comeback.

Just two days after scoring 21 points in the second half against Washington State, Carson outdid himself by scoring 22 of his career-high 32 points after halftime against the Huskies. The freshman point guard also added five assists, two rebounds, two steals and just one turnover in 34 minutes of action. Combined with his turnover-free performance against the Cougars, Carson had just one turnover despite playing 69 minutes on the two game road trip.

"He is someone who has great poise, tremendous self confidence and he obviously is a very talented young man," commented Sendek on Carson. "He has the mental and physical characteristics that allow him to perform at a high level like that."

His 32 points were also the most by an Arizona State freshman on the road in the school's history.

"I was just trying to take what the defense was giving me," remarked Carson. "Jon was on fire. I just saw the opportunity to shoot open jump shots. I've been working on my jump shot and try to attack the defense and get fouls because we were in the bonus."

Carson helped ignite 9-0 scoring run late in the game for the Sun Devils that closed the Washington lead to just one with 2:49 to play as his second steal of the night would lead to a fast break and his first dunk of the season.

But in the end, the Huskies were just too much for the Sun Devils to handle down low.

Washington (13-9, 5-4) outscored ASU 50-36 in the paint while also out-rebounding the Sun Devils by 16.

"We gave up 50 points in the paint in a variety of ways; low post, transition, offensive rebounds, cutters off of back screens to name a few," said Sendek. "Certainly rebounding was a problem for us, really got destroyed on the backgrounds and beat on 50/50 balls. Despite doing a number of good things on offense, it was negated by those kinds of things on defense."

The Huskies also held a 14-2 advantage on the offensive glass, leading to 19 second chance points on the night; none bigger than N'Diaye's late.

"Bottom line is we gave up too many points in the paint and rebounding was a big part of it," Sendek added.

N'Diaye finished the game with 16 points and 10 rebounds and was helped out by freshman forward Shawn Kemp Jr., who added 18 points and 6 rebounds for the Husky frontline.

Washington freshman Andrew Andrews did his best to match the effort of Carson as he finished with 22 points on 7-12 shooting.

The Sun Devil second half scoring attack was aided by the sophomore Gilling, who despite struggling in recent games, poured in a career-high 22 points on 8-10 shooting.

Senior forward Carrick Felix battled foul trouble in the loss, finishing with 10 points and just one rebound.

"We are obviously better when he is on the court, we had to play big stretches without him," said Sendek. "He picked up his 3rd foul in the first half. Jahii had foul trouble as well. Both of those guys spent extra time on the bench as a result."

As has been customary this season, the Sun Devils struggled once again at the free throw line, making just 6-12, while Washington made 21-22.

The Sun Devils return home next week where they'll look to regain their winning ways. The team hosts California on Thursday at 7:30 and Stanford on Saturday at 5:00.

Special thanks to Dawgman.com for supplying the quotes.

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