Arizona State Downs Temple, 66-57
March 20, 2009
MIAMI (AP) -James Harden made only one field goal Friday, and it was a big one.
Arizona State's season scoring leader struggled most of the game but sank a 3-pointer with 4:02 left, helping the Sun Devils hold off Temple 66-57 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Harden went 1-for-8 and was held to nine points, less than half his average. Junior Derek Glasser scored a career-high 22 points and Jeff Pendergraph also had 22 for the Sun Devils, playing in the tournament for the first time since 2003.
Dionte Christmas scored 29 to lead Temple.
Sixth-seeded Arizona State (25-9) reached the 25-win milestone for the first time since 1975 and will play Sunday against Syracuse (27-9), which beat Stephen F. Austin 59-44.
No. 11-seed Temple (22-12) was eliminated in the opening round for the second year in a row and hasn't won a tournament game since 2001.
Temple never led and trailed by eight midway through the second half before making a charge. Christmas scored three consecutive baskets to cut the margin to 52-49, the smallest since early in the game, but the Owls could get no closer.
After Harden missed his first six shots, his 3-pointer put Arizona State ahead 56-49. The Pac-10 player of the year sank a pair of free throws on the Sun Devils' next possession, and they led by at least four the rest of the way.
The Sun Devils clinched the win by making six consecutive free throws in the final 40 seconds, including four by Glasser.
Harden's performance was reminiscent of last week's Pac-10 tournament championship game, when he missed a free throw, layup and 3-pointer in the final minute and scored 10 points in a loss to Southern Cal.
He seemed reluctant to shoot against Temple, taking only two attempts in the first half. He did finish with seven rebounds, three steals and three assists and was 6-for-9 from the line.
While Harden struggled offensively, his teammates combined to shoot 19-for-31 (61 percent). Glasser scored 17 points in the first half and finished 4-for-5 from 3-point range.
Christmas played all 40 minutes and went 5-for-11 from 3-point range, but the rest of the Owls shot only 11-for-35 (31 percent) from the field.
Arizona State made six shots in a row, including three by Glasser, to build its biggest lead at 29-16 less than 12 minutes into the game.
The Sun Devils went the next eight possessions without a point, and Temple closed to 29-26. Glasser then sank consecutive 3-pointers, giving Arizona State a 35-26 lead.