ASU entered this week optimistic it could get two wins and revive its NCAA Tournament hopes.
It leaves Los Angeles with two losses. The latest was a 57-56 crushing defeat to USC Saturday at the Galen Center that all but eliminates its shot at an at-large bid.
The Sun Devils (20-10, 9-8 Pac-12) had a chance to win the game, but redshirt freshman point guard Jahii Carson’s three-point heave didn’t fall at the buzzer.
Carson willed his team back down 51-37 to USC (14-15, 9-7 Pac-12) with 7:34 left in the game. ASU went on 8-0 run in 90 seconds to get within six points of the Trojans.
Carson scored four of the eight points in that span, including two free throws on a flagrant foul called on senior guard Jio Fontan. He unintentionally struck Carson in the face with his elbow.
Fontan fouled out of the game a minute later on senior guard Chris Colvin’s made a layup attempt. Colvin scored seven of his 10 points in the final six minutes of the game.
ASU looked like it might get the ball back with 19 seconds left, but junior center Jordan Bachynski was called for a loose ball foul on senior forward Eric Wise off a missed jumper. USC junior guard J.T. Terrell’s shot attempt did not hit the rim on the play, but the shot clock was reset. The officials felt the foul was committed before the shot clock violation after review.
Wise made both free throws to put USC up 57-52. Wise had a team-high 12 points.
Carson drove the length of the court in four seconds on the next possession and made a layup. He then forced a turnover on the inbound pass and scored on another layup to bring ASU within one point with five seconds left.
Wise missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Carson raced down the court to attempt a deep three-point shot, but it bounced off the back rim.
Carson finished with a game-high 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting. He also had seven rebounds, four assists and just two turnovers in 39 minutes.
The sluggish first half start doomed the Sun Devils.
They scored a season-low 20 points in the first half and were down by 18 with 4:37 left in the first half.
They didn’t score their first field goal until the 16:10 mark when Carson made a layup. They had 10 first-half turnovers and finished with 13 in the game.
Senior wing Carrick Felix picked up two fouls in the first two minutes of the game, and he couldn’t get it going offensively after that point. He scored just four points, on 2-of-10 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds.
The Sun Devils won’t play again until next Saturday March 9 when it travels down I-10 to face Arizona.
A win in Tucson could give the Sun Devils a slim chance at receiving an automatic bid if it makes a deep run in the Pac-12 Tournament.
But it likely needs to win the conference tournament to get the automatic bid and make the NCAA Tournament. Tip-off is at 2:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Net and 92.3 FM.
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