Sun Devils Shocked At Buzzer

Dec 17, 2003

By Brian Gomez,

EVANSTON, Ill. - Following a strikingly familiar script Wednesday at Northwestern, Arizona State's men's basketball team dug itself a hole early, but this time couldn't climb out.

The Sun Devils overcame a 13-point, second-half deficit, and took the lead with less than two minutes remaining, only to drop a heartbreaker when the final bounce went the other way.

Sophomore guard T.J. Parker's off-balance jumper from the elbow of the free-throw line as time expired propelled Northwestern to a 63-61 win over ASU at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

The painful defeat cast a shadow over a sensational effort from Sun Devil sophomore forward Ike Diogu, who totaled 23 points and 14 rebounds, the most since last season when he grabbed 18 boards in the opening round of the Pac-10 Tournament.

'We played uphill all day,' said ASU head coach Rob Evans, whose team committed only two turnovers in the second half, but shot 34.3 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three-point range. 'We had a chance to win the ballgame, but you've got to make stops, and we didn't make stops.'

Trailing 54-49 with 5:03 left, the Sun Devils (4-2) tied the game less than three minutes later on back-to-back three-pointers from senior forward Justin Allen and Diogu, then reclaimed the lead for the first time since the 10:37 mark of the first half when junior guard Steve Moore buried a shot from well beyond the arc.

Northwestern (5-3) went ahead 61-60 with 1:09 to go on sophomore forward Vedran Vukusic's pair of free throws, but ASU pulled even when sophomore forward Allen Morill connected on his second attempt from the charity stripe.

Both teams had chances to take control in the closing minute, although sophomore guard Mohamed Hachad squandered Northwestern's best opportunity by missing a pair of free throws with 28.4 seconds remaining.

On ASU's last possession, senior swingman Jitim Young tied up Morill under the hoop after redshirt freshman guard Kevin Kruger drove through the lane and dished to the post. The play was designed to go to Moore or Diogu, who was open at the top of the key.

'We were trying to penetrate and get the ball to Ike,' Evans said. 'We wanted to get the ball inside, penetrate and maybe get a foul on that. We got the ball to Allen, and he should have gotten the ball up on the glass, but he just didn't.'

Taking control after the jump ball, Northwestern looked for the speedy Parker, the younger brother of San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker. After weaving his way down court, Parker lofted a 14-foot jumper over Kruger just before the horn sounded. Television replays showed the ball left Parker's hands with four tenths of a second remaining.

'Parker just made a tough shot,' said Diogu, who played 38 minutes in perhaps his best outing of the season, going 8-for-17 from the field and 6-for-6 from the free-throw line. 'You can't blame any one individual for this loss. It was a team effort, and we've just got to improve on it.'

The Sun Devils won the battle on the boards 43-35, and outscored the Wildcats in the paint, 35-22. ASU got 19 points from its bench, as Allen and Morill had six apiece and senior swingman Jamal Hill added five. Kruger dished out four assists in 27 minutes off the bench.

For Northwestern, Vukusic scored a career-high 26 points on 8-of-15 shooting from inside the arc. Parker and Young finished with 12 apiece.

UP NEXT: ASU returns to Wells Fargo Arena at 6 p.m. Monday against McNeese State. The game can be heard on ESPN Radio 860 AM.

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EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) - T.J. Parker scored 12 points and the winning basket astime expired and Vedran Vukusic scored a career-high 26 points as Northwesternbeat Arizona State 63-61 Wednesday.

Jitim Young forced a jump ball that went Northwestern's way and with 4.6seconds remaining Parker dribbled up the length of the court and hit a 14-footjumper, to give Northwestern the win.

Young had 12 points and nine rebounds for Northwestern. Parker had eightassists.

Northwestern (5-3) led by as many as 13 early in the second half, butArizona State was able to cut into the Wildcats' lead.

Arizona State outscored Northwestern 8-0 during a five-minute span midwaythrough the second half. Ike Diogu had a putback for Arizona State to getwithin 38-42 with 11:20 left.

Justin Allen hit a 3-pointer for Arizona State to tie it at 49 with 6:09left and Steve Moore hit a 3 to give Arizona State a 60-59 lead with 1:25 left,their first lead of the second half.

Vukusic came back down and hit two free throws for the Wildcats to give thema 61-60 lead. Allen Morill missed his first free throw for Arizona State, buthit the second to tie the game at 61 with 45.9 left.

Diogu finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds for Arizona State. He was theonly Sun Devil in double figures. Moore finished with nine points.

Arizona State was just 5-for-22 from 3-point range in the game.

Northwestern went on a 9-0 run in the first half, hitting three 3-pointersin a row. Evan Seacat, Vukusic and Young each had a 3-pointer. Young's putNorthwestern up 21-13 with 8:44 left in the first half.

Northwestern led 34-27 at half. Vukusic led the Wildcats with 10 first-halfpoints. Diogu had 10 for Arizona State. Northwestern was 7-for-10 from 3-pointrange in the first half, while Arizona State (5-3) was 1-for-10.

The Wildcats extended their lead in the second half, scoring the first sixpoints of the half. Vukusic had the first four points. He then made a nice passto Parker on a backdoor play to make it 40-27, Northwestern's largest lead ofthe game.

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