ASU men’s basketball downs California thanks to second-half surge on Senior Night

Senior forward Shaquielle McKissic dunks the ball in a game against California University on March 1. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

Senior forward Shaquielle McKissic dunks the ball in a home game against California on March 1. ASU won against California 78-60. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

With 54 seconds left in Saturday’s game against California, a standing ovation greeted senior center Jordan Bachynski as he checked out.

It was the last glimpse of the four-year veteran in a Sun Devil uniform in Tempe. At the start of the postgame press conference, Bachynski broke down in tears and initially struggled to speak.

 

 

“It just kind of all hit me,” Bachynski said. “It’s been a really long road but it’s been fun. I’m going to miss it.”

It was also the last home game for senior guard Jermaine Marshall, redshirt junior guard Barnes, senior forward Jarett Upchurch, senior forward Dave Whitmore and senior forward Richie Edwards. Redshirt sophomore point guard Jahii Carson, who had nine points and four assists on Saturday, confirmed it was his last home game as a Sun Devil.

“Oh no, he’s not coming back,” ASU coach Herb Sendek said.

The Sun Devils (21-8, 10-6 Pac-12) did everything they could to prevent any spoilers on Senior Night. ASU routed the Golden Bears (18-11, 9-7 Pac-12) 78-60, capping off the Sun Devils’ home record at 16-1.

It was the Sun Devils’ best home mark in 40 years.

“We’re really grateful to our fans, the 942 Crew and the students,” Sendek said. “They’ve always provided us a good homecourt. It all ties together because of all of the tremendous support we’ve received.

Junior forward Jonathan Gilling was on fire for ASU, making his first six shots and even taking four field goals inside the perimeter. He finished with 15 points, five rebounds and four assists. With Gilling playing well, the Sun Devils were able to spread the ball more on offense.

“It makes us a completely different team,” Sendek said. “It just changes the whole dynamics of our offense.”

Marshall led all scorers with 22 points. Including Gilling’s 15 points, the Sun Devils received 25 points from the bench.

The two teams got into a tug-of-war affair in the first half, as no one seemed to control the momentum. The only person that found a rhythm for ASU was Marshall, who scored 10 points in the first half.

ASU had a 29-24 advantage at the end of the first half, but things completely changed coming out of halftime.

The Sun Devils broke out on an 8-0 run at the beginning of the second half, followed by another 8-0 run near the nine-minute mark.

Both teams played with a quicker tempo, but ASU shot 69 percent from the field in the second half, which helped the Sun Devils pull away.

“We fed the ball more inside out, so that forced them to collapse to the bigs inside,” Carson said.

The Sun Devils’ last two games have been an evolution compared to last weekend’s road trip at Utah and Colorado, where they struggled to play with effort. Following up Wednesday’s win against Stanford, ASU continued to battle for rebounds and go after lose balls, notably Barnes.

The Sun Devils outrebounded the Golden Bears 34-29.

“We didn’t want our tournament hopes ruined by not being focused and not being prepared,” Carson said.

California redshirt senior point guard Justin Cobbs had 15 points. Freshman guard Jordan Mathews and junior forward David Kravish added 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Because the Sun Devils’ NCAA Tournament hopes appear to be all but locked, ASU’s remaining pair of games at Oregon and Oregon State next week may seem irrelevant compared to the rest of the season. Still, the players said they must remain focus through this road trip with the Pac-12 Tournament starting on March 12.

“We have to have as many wins as possible coming down this homestand,” Marshall said. “We can’t give them a reason to not let us in.”

Reach the reporter at jnacion@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @Josh_Nacion