Sun Devils brushed back by Washington to open Pac-12 play

ASU forward Shaquielle McKissic shoots against Washington's Mike Anderson during the second half Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena. Washington won 76-65.

TEMPE, Ariz. — In the final analysis, Washington was the main culprit in keeping Arizona State out of the NCAA tournament last year. The Huskies swept the season series with a distinct rebounding advantage each time, and won a late game at Wells Fargo Arena that helped keep the Sun Devils from a winning record in Pac-12 play.

The vu was decidedly deja Thursday in ASU’s first game of the new year.

Conference openers can be volatile, and this one blew up in ASU’s face when unheralded Washington took a 17-point halftime lead and cruised to a 76-65 victory before 5,788 at Wells Fargo, its eight straight victory over the Sun Devils.

The Huskies led by 24 late in the second half, and the game was so far out of hand that ASU leading scorer Jahii Carson did not play the final 6½ minutes.

The Sun Devils (11-3, 0-1) built a 16-10 lead in the first six minutes but suddenly fell out of synch on both ends, yielding a 25-5 run that put Washington in control. ASU shot 39 percent from the field, had eight assists — its fewest in 120 home games — gave up 42 points in the paint and was outrebounded by seven.

We didn’t make each other better. … It’s not that we’re bad guys, We’re just trying to help our team. It’s a tough situation. We have to learn from it and move on.

Jordan Bachynski, ASU center

"We need to get back to our basketball," said disappointed ASU center Jordan Bachynski, who had 13 points, five rebounds and six blocked shots.

"We didn’t make each other better. It’s tough because when you do get down there is that panic feeling, where the ball comes to you and you try" to shoot your team back in the game. "It’s not that we’re bad guys, We’re just trying to help our team. It’s a tough situation. We have to learn from it and move on."

Carson led ASU with 15 points and Shaquielle McKissic had 13, including the Sun Devils’ only 3-pointer until Calaen Robinson made a second with 6.6 seconds remaining. The two 3s were ASU’s fewest of the season. It made five against UNLV.

Jermaine Marshall and Jonathan Gilling each missed three 3-point tries as Washington (9-5, 1-0) took advantage of its small-but-athletic three-guard lineup by defending well on the perimeter.

"That’s one of the things we weren’t used to see, teams pressuring the wings and denying and not letting us get our three-point shot off," Carson said. "The next thing is to try to get yourself going and take quick shots, and I think that’s what hurt us."

Small forward C.J. Wilcox scored 17 points for Washington, making 4-of-10 3-pointers, guard Andrew Andrews had 14 points and freshman Nigel Williams-Goss had 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Williams-Goss, 6-foot-3, used his height advantage to score over Carson on several post-up plays.

"He’s a great player. As a competitor, you pride yourself on taking that challenge," Williams-Goss said of going against Carson on both ends of the floor until ASU made a defensive switch.

"Me being a bigger guard, I like to try to take advantage of my size, just like smaller guards like to take advantage of their quickness. We were thriving on our defense. When are were locked in defensively, we are getting stops and it allows us to get out in transition.

ASU even went to a zone defense for short periods in each half, but it did not faze Washington, which found Wilcox open for 3-pointers several times.

"They had their best focus all year against a talented ASU team," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said in a tweet.

ASU, which next plays Washington State on Sunday afternoon, made two of its final 22 field goal attempts in the first half, when the Huskies took a 40-23 lead. Washington had 26 points in the paint in the first half.

"Our inability to convert some of the good shots we had, coupled with the fact that I thought we exercised our poorest shot selection of the year, really made it difficult for us to score," ASU coach Herb Sendek said.

"On the other end, the poor shots resulted in us being on our heels in some instances with our transition defense and in other cases we were just burned in transition. The shot selection and the transition defense, to me, really stand out."

The Huskies lost to UC Irvine by 14 on Nov. 14, the same team ASU beat by 13 in its last game on Saturday. But the numbers that translated were from the two head-to-head meetings last season.

ASU guard Jermaine Marshall and Washington guard Nigel Williams-Goss battle for a loose ball during the second half.

Washington had a plus-16 rebounding edge in a 96-92 victory in Seattle on Feb. 2 and was plus-13 in a 68-58 victory here Feb. 23, a game that started a four-game losing streak as ASU finished 9-9 in the Pac-12.

The teams do not play again this season.

During Washington’s 16-2 run to a 26-18 lead with nine minutes left in the first half, the Huskies stayed close to the basket. They scored on four layups, a backdoor alley-oop slam dunk, two mid-range jump shots and two free throws.

1 — ASU home loss this season after going 8-0 in nonconference play.

* Jordan Bachynski had four blocked shots, giving him 248 for the season. He has a chance to pass for USC center Taj Gibson (253) for third place in Pac-12 history on Sunday against Washington State. Channing Frye (258) is second.

* Jermaine Marshall, covered often by freshman Nigel Williams-Goss, had his least productive shooting night, going 2-for-11 from the field while scoring four points in 27 minutes.

* Washington senior C.J. Wilcox made four 3-pointers, half of them when ASU was in a zone defense that permitted him just enough space for an open look. Wilcox is the Pac-12’s active 3-point leader with 250. "We have shooters that spot up, and that gives us a lot of opportunities," Wilcox said of playing against a zone.

ASU’s eight assists were its fewest at home since Feb. 1, 2007, a 66-61 loss to Washington. The Sun Devils had just 16 field goals in that game. Assists usually have less to do with distributing the ball than about taking and making good shots. ASU’s shot selection was poor, especially in the first half.