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November 16, 2006

Sun Devils pick up first win of Sendek-era

Arizona State (1-1) featured a balanced scoring attack with five players in double figures, and walk-on Steve Jones hit four 3-pointers in the second half of the team's 69-52 victory over Cal State San Bernardino (0-1) Wednesday night, giving Herb Sendek his first win as coach of the Sun Devils.

Jones, a sophomore guard who is the son of former Oregon star and current NBA commentator Steve "Snapper" Jones, led all players with 12 points in just 15 minutes of action but the Sun Devils had the game well in hand by the time he hit three 3-pointers in a two minute stretch of the second half.

Senior Serge Angounou earned a start in the frontcourt, along with Jeff Pendergraph and both players were very active to start the game, combining to pull in nine offensive rebounds in the first half.

Pendergraph score all eight of his points before intermission, going 4-of-8 from the field and pulling down eight rebounds. Angounou finished with 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds.

Junior Antwi Atuahene, the team's lone scholarship guard returning from last year's roster, had 11 points and five assists, and freshmen Jerren Shipp and Christian Polk had 11 and 10 points, respectively.

After shooting 10-of-36 from 3-point range in the team's opening season loss to Northern Arizona, the Sun Devils had a more efficient 10-of-20 performance from the distance versus San Bernardino.

Arizona State shortened its bench in the game, with just seven players seeing double digit minutes, and sophomore forward Sylvester Seay, after starting in the opener, did not play in the first half.

A 12-0 run near the end of the first half helped push the Sun Devils to a 37-21 lead at intermission.

The second half saw spotty play, due in large part to the discrepancy in talent between the two schools, the lopsided score, and the Sun Devils trying some different player combinations.

"We spent time afterwards talking about the need to finish better," Sendek said. "I think with eight minutes to go in that second half we'd yielded six points and then we didn't have the same focus that we needed to have."

Jones made four consecutive 3-pointers, all from the same corner as the Sun Devils broke down the San Bernardino full court press and found him repeatedly for one wide open look after another.

But what impressed Sendek even more, was a hustle play where Jones went airborne to retrieve a loose ball following his shooting success.

Immediately after the play, Sendek turned to the fans and encouraged them to applaud Jones for his effort.

"That was one of the all-time great hustle plays," Sendek said. "He dove six feet in the air headfirst into the scorer's table for a loose ball. He had just hit some [3-pointers]. If we would have had a 360 (degree) windmill dunk, I wouldn't have said a word. But on that play, it doesn't get any better. It was great to see our crowd respond.

"Steve Jones gave us a great lift, not just because he 4 [3-pointers], but was terrific with his ball pressure and the play that he made along the sidelines epitomizes what he brings every day. He does that every single day. He's always upbeat. He's always encouraging teammates. He's a great communicator in the locker room and I love coaching him."

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