For the first four minutes on Thursday, it looked like Arizona State was prepared to put an end to their recent skid against the Washington as the Sun Devils jumped ahead 14-8 behind seven early points from Seattle native Shaquille McKissic. Arizona State converted seven of its first 11 shot attempts against the guard-heavy Husky line-up.
Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, they couldn't keep up the pace.
ASU made just two their next 20 shots as Washington finished the half on a 30-9 run to take a commanding 17 point lead into halftime.
"We got away from our basketball," said senior Jordan Bachynski afterwards. "We didn't hit any of our shots that we normally hit. Sometimes when your shots don't go, everything else seems to fall apart."
For a third consecutive game, Arizona State struggled to defend the paint as Washington scored 26 of their 42 points in the paint in the first half against the undersized Sun Devils. The Huskies turned Arizona State's missed field goal attempts into easy baskets of their own, shooting better than 51% in the first half, aided by poor transition defense from the Sun Devils.
"Basically, they just said, "Whoever gets it, just take it,'" remarked sophomore Jahii Carson. "It's tough for us to get matched up in transition because a lot of us had mismatches. You know, the five might be on the guard and he's driving the ball and if you're not back, they're attacking us. We didn't do a good job getting back in transition and that's one of the things that fueled their scoring.
"When guys get easy buckets, they start feeling good about themselves and they start hitting everything and we didn't do a good job of making each other better and hitting our open shots, which fueled their transition game as well."
Five players scored in double figures for Washington on Thursday, led by senior guard C.J. Wilcox, who scored 17 points on 6-13 shooting.
The Sun Devils used a 9-0 run in the early stages of the second half to pull within 10, but the Huskies countered with an 8-0 run of their own, capped by back-to-back open three point looks, including one of four successful three point makes by Wilcox on the night.
"Shot selection was a significant part of the story here this evening and quite frankly, we just had a difficult time defending Washington," said Head Coach Herb Sendek. "Off the dribble certainly stands out. Transition stands out. Wilcox makes you pay almost every time you make a mistake and obviously we just didn't play very well."
After failing to record an assist for the first time in his college career in the team's last outing against UC-Irvine, Carson was limited to just one assist on Thursday. The sophomore added 15 points and four rebounds, but it wasn't enough to overcome a poor shooting night by the Sun Devils.
Arizona State shot just 38% overall format he field, while making just 2-14 three point attempts.
"Probably for the first time this year, the three wasn't falling for us," added Sendek. "We were only 2-14 from three and we didn't find another way to win. We didn't find another way to compete."
Bachynski was one of the lone bright spots for the Sun Devils, scoring 13 points on 5-7 shooting while adding five rebounds and six blocked shots. McKissic was the only other Sun Devil in double figures, finishing with 13 points and five rebounds.
Thursday's defeat marked Arizona State's eighth consecutive loss to the Huskies, dating back to March 13th, 2009. The Sun Devils will look to even their conference record when they host Washington State on Sunday.
"We have to take what we can learn from this game and move on," said Bachynski. "Basketball is a next play kind of game. You might have a missed lay-up, but you've got to get back on defense. As a team, that's just what we've got to do. It was a tough game tonight, a tough loss. We got ourselves in a hole and battled the whole game to get ourselves settled unsuccessfully."
"We've just got to learn what we can and not lose the next game and win the next game and come out hard the next game and not make the same mistakes."