TEMPE, Ariz. It was a night for the freshmen, and they played like anything but.
When Arizona State needed a 3-pointer, Jonathan Gilling hit it.
When Washington needed a play, Tony Wroten made it.
Wroten, the early favorite for the Pac-12 Conference freshman of the year, had a monster slam and a sneaky little put-back down the stretch when the Huskies held off undermanned but game ASU, 60-54, for their eighth victory at Wells Fargo Arena in the last nine games.
Wroten, a 6-foot-4 guard, had a game-high 22 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the floor, and maybe the most impressive part of his game was that he did not force anything, even as ASU shortened the game with its lengthy possessions.
He was the difference in the game, ASU coach Herb Sendek said.
Gilling had a career-high 20 points, making 5 of 12 threes, in his seventh career start, and his role in the offense continues to grow.He was the focal point Thursday when the Sun Devils played their third straight game without wing Trent Lockett, whose sprained right ankle is likely to keep him out for a fourth straight game when Washington State visits Saturday.
You see how much we got to him right now, said Sendek, after Gilling took 16 shots.
We talked about him being a promising player and that he was going to be really good. He was really good tonight, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said.
Gillings 3-pointer from the right baseline with 1:42 remaining after a Washington defender backed off brought ASU to within four points, 50-46, the closest it had been since the Huskies opened the second half on a 17-3 run to overcome a 24-22 halftime deficit.
Wroten, who by his athleticism showed his time in college may be short, made the decisive play on the Huskies next possession, after they milked 30 seconds off the shot clock. Wroten drove the lane and could not get a short learner to fall, but no one claimed the rebound and the ball bounced back into the lane.
Wroten picked it up, laid it in and made a free throw after being fouled to make it 53-46. The Huskies made seven free throws in the final 43.9 seconds to remove any suspense.
Im disappointed that we lost. I really thought we could beat these guys, Gilling said.
I dont think they are any better than us. Maybe more athletic, but I dont think player-for-player that they are better than us.
Washington (13-7, 6-2) moved into a tie for first place in the Pac-12 with California, Oregon and Colorado while ASU (6-14, 2-6) remained in a tie for eighth place.
ASU slowed the game with its deliberate tempo, and neither team shot well. The Huskies, who also got 12 points from Terrence Ross, shot 41.7 percent from the field and ASU made 37.3 percent, with point guard Chris Colvin adding 10. ASU, who leads the Pac-12 in turnovers, had 15 more, five more than Washington.
The pace worked to the Sun Devils favor in the first half as they took a 24-22 lead, limiting Washington to its lowest first-half total of the season.
Coach is telling us to control the game with the offense. Dont rush it and play at our own pace, because thats when were at our best. When we are patient, we get good shots, and thats when we have our best offensive spurts, sophomore 7-foot-2 center Jordan Bachynski said.
The Sun Devils outrebounded the Pac-12s leading rebounding team in the first half and finished with a one-board deficit, 35-34, with Bachynski getting a career-high 13 to go along with nine points. Bachynski has five, seven and 13 rebounds in his last three games as he has become more of an intimidating factor inside.
Im just trying to carry my weight on the team. Losing hurts to my core, but I am going to keep bringing the energy, Bachynski said.
In addition to his rebounding and clogging the paint, Bachynski set a jarring screen on Wroten with four minutes left in the game that sent Wroten to the floor and resulted in Washington calling a quick timeout.
I dont know if it is politically correct, but since he chose the word, Ill use it going back to last week, he just finally decided that he was going to be more of an animal, and thats kind of the picture he has of himself in his mind at this point, Sendek said.
Even though it is still a work in progress, that mind-set is serving him very well.
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