No. 21 Arizona State defeats California 83-66
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP)—Arizona State presented senior Jeff Pendergraph with a framed No. 4 jersey before his final home game.
Then Pendergraph gave the Sun Devils a performance that was suitable for framing.
Pendergraph had 27 points and 10 rebounds to lead No. 21 Arizona State to an 83-66 victory over California on Saturday, snapping the Sun Devils’ three-game losing streak.
Pendergraph came out to a standing ovation in the final seconds, blowing kisses to the crowd.
When the final horn sounded, the 6-foot-9 Pendergraph loped over to the student section and began high-fiving schoolmates. Then he worked his way along the sideline, shaking hands and exchanging hugs with fans and ASU officials before sprinting up the tunnel one last time.
“Everybody was just so into it,” Pendergraph said. “It was such a great atmosphere for senior day. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
It might also have been the last home game for Arizona State’s James Harden, a sophomore who is projected as a high pick in the NBA draft. Harden, the Pac-10’s leading scorer, had 20 points for the Sun Devils (22-8, 11-7 Pac-10).
“People are going to remember us for a while,” Pendergraph said. “We’re not done yet.”
ASU students chanted “one more year!” as Harden shot a free throw in the first half, but Harden won’t tip his hand on his intentions.
“I don’t plan on thinking about it any time soon,” he said.
The Sun Devils rode Pendergraph and Harden to a third-place tie in the Pac-10 with California (22-9, 11-7), ASU’s highest finish since 1995. The Golden Bears own the tiebreaker and will be the third seed in the conference tournament next week in Los Angeles.
Cal was coming off an 83-77 victory over Arizona, its first win in McKale Center since 1995. But the Golden Bears looked like a different team against ASU.
Cal is one of the nation’s better shooting teams; the Golden Bears came in hitting 48.9 percent, seventh in the nation, and 44.5 percent from beyond the arc, best in the country.
But they shot only 42.2 percent overall and 26.3 percent from 3-point range against the Sun Devils.
“We weren’t ready to play,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “There was no sense of urgency.”
Jerome Randle scored 24 points for Cal.
“As a team, we played horrible,” Randle said. “The intensity wasn’t there. They came out and just dictated what was going to go on out there on the floor, and we’ve been struggling with that all year.”
ASU, by contrast, played as if an NCAA berth was on the line.
Forty hours after a listless 74-64 home loss to Stanford, the Sun Devils came out fired up. They took command early, running out to a 24-11 lead on Harden’s dunk off an alley-oop from point guard Derek Glasser.
Glasser finished with 12 points and 11 assists, matching a career high, and he played 39 minutes on a day the Sun Devils were without Jamelle McMillan, who usually spells Glasser at the point. McMillan has a groin strain and is unlikely to play in the Pac-10 tourney.
It was a memorable last home game for Pendergraph, who is wrapping up one of the more interesting careers in ASU hoops history.
“He was the heart and soul of this program,” Harden said. “He’s been through it all.”
Pendergraph arrived in 2005 from Etiwanda, Calif. He considered transferring after his freshman year, when ASU fired coach Rob Evans and hired Herb Sendek.
Sendek asked Pendergraph to be one of his leaders. But in Pendergraph’s sophomore season, the Sun Devils finished last in the Pac-10 and lost a school-record 15 straight games.
Two years later, they’re almost surely heading to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003. Pendergraph is one of the main reasons—and that’s why Sendek was happy to see him finish his home career with a resounding victory.
“You always want to win on senior day,” Sendek said. “Today it was especially good that everybody stepped up for Jeff because he’s meant so much for our program, both on and off the court.”
Pendergraph is shooting 66.2 percent from the field, best in the nation.
“I think Jeff is one of the most improved players in the Pac-10, and that’s saying a lot for a guy who was a three-year starter,” Sendek said.
Pendergraph scored five points early in the second half as the Sun Devils took a 50-28 lead.
After Cal whittled the deficit to 66-57 with 7 minutes to play, Pendergraph soared and dunked on an alley-oop from Glasser, and the Bears didn’t threaten again.