Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 9:22 a.m.
ASU's men's basketball team went down in flames last night at the Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, losing to the Jacksonville Dolphins 67-66 after a bizarre finish that confirms a time-tested Yogi Berra adage--it ain't over `til it's over.
A Devils' season that once had been a pleasant surprise ended abruptly in the first round of the second-tier National Invitational Tournament.
Seems like a long time ago now (it was just last week) that the school held out a realistic chance of earning an NCAA berth, having finished second in the Pac-10 and winning 22 games in the regular season.
But a convincing loss to the mediocre Stanford Cardinal in the first round of the conference post-season tournament, and now this one -- a stunner to an unknown team from the Atlantic-Sun Conference turned a nice feel-good story into a bummer.
Hell, the Devils were leading by 11 with four minutes to go and, even still led by five with just 20 seconds left.
But a layup, a quick ASU turnover and two free throws brought the Dolphins to within one point with about eight seconds remaining.
ASU senior point guard Derek Glasser went to the free-throw line with a chance to make it a three-point lead. Glasser has been one of the Pac-10's best foul shooters over his four-year career, and he swished the first shot.
But he clanked the second, which would be his final shot as a Sun Devil (sad way to end a nice college career).
Jacksonville rushed up the court, out of timeouts.
The ball was in the hands of little senior point guard Ben Smith, the best player out there during the second half.
Smith pulled up from about 24 feet with about three seconds left and let it fly.
We're sure he didn't call out "bank shot!" but that's what happened, a carom off the backboard and straight through the hoop.
ASU never got the ball past its own free-throw line before the final horn spelled the end of the game -- and the season.
Basketball coaches around the nation will be burning DVDs of the game's final minutes to show their teams that, yes, weird things can and do happen in sporting events.
As for Pac-10 coach of the year Herb Sendek, who has done a very nice job at the Devils' helm, well, he may be best served by not watching that tape of this one -- ever.