Straight West Coastin: Arizona State knocks off UCLA, Gonzaga holds off St. Mary’s

Harden's strong all-around game lifted the Sun Devils over the Bruins

Harden's strong all-around game lifted the Sun Devils over the Bruins

James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph led No. 18 Arizona State to a 74-67 win over No. 11 UCLA Thursday night, completing a season-sweep by the Sun Devils against the Bruins.

Harden scored 15 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out 11 assists. Pendergraph added 14 points and nine rebounds.

Josh Shipp led UCLA with 16 points, and fellow guard Darren Collison scored 15 points despite battling the flu.

This was a fantastic game. ASU’s 3-point shooting was the difference. The Sun Devils shot 11-18 from 3-point range and made several big baskets in the closing minutes.

UCLA looked fatigued and never got in rhythm offensively.

Despite the loss, I am impressed with UCLA. Although the Bruins lack a true go-to scorer, they have great balance and a decent bench. Shipp and Collison are shut-down defenders and have a wealth of experience.

UCLA fell to 19-5 overall with the loss.  The Bruins are currently tied with Washington for first-place in the Pac-10 at 8-3.

Arizona State is now 19-5 overall and 8-4 in the Pac-10. Barring an epic collapse down the stretch, The Sun Devils should secure at least a number three seed in the NCAA tournament.

No. 19 Gonzaga 72, St. Mary’s 70-The Zags held off a thrilling comeback by a feisty St. Mary’s team playing without star Patrick Mills to win on the road in the WCC.  Matt Bouldin aka Frodo scored 21 to lead the Zags.  Diamon Simpson scored 12 points and grabbed 15 boards for the Gaels.

St. Mary’s nearly pulled out a miracle comeback.  Aussie Carlin Hughes banked in a leaning 3-pointer with 9.9 seconds left and also appeared to be fouled.  No call was made, but Bouldin missed two free throws to give the Gaels a chance.  St. Mary’s threw the ball away on the ensuing inbound play.  Jeremy Pargo made one free throw for the Zags, leaving the door open for the Gaels, but Hughes missed a desperation mid-court heave at the buzzer.

Gonzaga is continued its rampage through the WCC this season, improving to 9-0 in the conference.  Saint Mary’s is really struggling, but help is on the way.

During a brief stint at the broadcast table last night, Mills told ESPN’s Steve Lavin and Dave O’Brien that he hopes to return for the WCC tournament in March.

I rarely enjoy anything that ESPN does, but I have to say that I really enjoyed listening to Mills during the broadcast.  He is a very engaging young man, and it was nice to get his perspective on the game.  I applaud ESPN for inviting him to sit-in with Lavin and O’Brien.

St. Mary’s will probably need to win the WCC tournament to make the NCAA tournament, but an NIT berth is likely should the Gaels fall short.

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