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ASU Basketball: Poor shooting performance costs the Sun Devils against Washington

(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)

A bad shooting night was the downfall of the Arizona State Sun Devils as they went down to the Washington Huskies 89-85 on Saturday night. The Huskies got a big game from starting point guard Andrew Andrews as he torched the Sun Devils to the tune of 30 points, 12 assists, and six rebounds.

Coming into the game, Washington was second in the Pac-12 in points per game with 84.1. Their offense was the focal point of the game as they shot over 50 percent for the game and led wire to wire.

Everything was going the Huskies’ way in the first half as they connected on 57 percent of their shots from the field. Washington guard Andrew Andrews had a lot to do with the teams’ strong offensive production. He scored 18 points on 8-for-9 shooting to go along with six assists and two rebounds in the first half alone.

“He (Andrews) shoots the ball well, he penetrates well, he gets to the rim well, he finishes well, he’s just a good player,” said ASU sophomore guard Kodi Justice.

ASU, on the other hand, struggled to score on the offensive end of the ball. The team shot just 42 percent from the field due to poor ball movement. The Sun Devils only had two assists on their 13 made baskets in the first half of play.

Washington swarmed the ball when it was dumped in the paint and forced ASU to kick the ball out and take tough jump shots and contested drives to the rim. For an ASU team that is dead last in the Pac-12 in three-point shooting and 11th in field goal percentage, the difficult shots spelled disaster.

“We didn’t start the way you need to start at home, we dug a hole for ourselves, our offense wasn’t functioning well and we didn’t execute,” said ASU head coach Bobby Hurley.

The main factor that kept ASU in the game was their excellent offensive rebounding performance. The Sun Devils outrebounded the Huskies 10-5 and ended up with 14 second-chance points. Despite a lackluster first 20 minutes, ASU went in halftime down 44-34.

The second half fared better for ASU, as they were able to establish an offensive rhythm. The shots began to fall and the rest of the offense went with it. ASU raised its shooting percentage to 47 percent in the second half.

Sophomore guard Kodi Justice was the source of offense for ASU in the second half, going 5-for-8 from the field and scoring 12 points. Even with him and the rest of the offense scoring, the Sun Devils could not stop Washington on offense.

It seemed as though every time ASU would cut the lead down to within five, the Huskies would answer with a quick run of their own. Washington continued their offensive dominance by nailing six of their eleven three-pointers in the second half.

“Every time we were within two or three points, it felt like they hit a big three,” said sophomore guard Kodi Justice. “We couldn’t get that next stop to get over the hump.”

The Sun Devils made it competitive at the end, despite their poor shooting for much of the game. Down by 10 with 1:49 to play, the Sun Devils mounted a furious comeback to cut the Huskies lead to three with 38 seconds left.

ASU played the foul game for the last stretch of the game, but Andrews was cool under pressure and went 6-for-6 on free throws in the last 38 seconds of the game to close out the contest.

Outside of the shooting from the field, free throws plagued ASU for much of the game. ASU is second in the Pac-12 in free throw shooting, averaging 72 percent as a team.

Against Washington, the Sun Devils shot an uncharacteristically bad 16-for-29 on free throws in the game and the missed opportunities at the line really hurt them in what was a close game throughout the second half.

“The biggest problem was free throw shooting,” said Hurley. “It goes back to being consistent in each game. That’s something you can control, to a large degree. In a game where the margin of error is not that great, you can’t shoot that number and expect to win.”

The Sun Devils will have a chance to redeem themselves when they head out on the road to Berkeley to face the California Golden Bears on Thursday, Jan. 21st.

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