NCAA tournament: ASU men's basketball emotional after buzzer-beating loss
MILWAUKEE — The television shot of the ASU men’s basketball bench laying in awe went viral immediately after Texas stunned the Sun Devils with a buzzer-beater.
Senior center Jordan Bachynski and redshirt sophomore point guard Jahii Carson often had trouble speaking throughout the postgame press conference and kept most of their answers short.
Even 30 minutes after the game ended, the entire team remained sitting in a circle in an uncomfortable locker room. Heads down and no words said throughout the room.
Coach Herb Sendek called the locker room “emotional.”
It was a painful end to the team’s 40-minute cameo in the NCAA tournament. It looked certain that the Sun Devils were about to get at least five more minutes of extended play in the Big Dance, but Texas sophomore center Cameron Ridley had other thoughts, getting off a put-back split-seconds before the horn sounded.
Seniors who get knocked out of the tournament are typically asked to reflect on their careers. Bachynski was too stunned to talk about it.
“The game is still really fresh,” Bachynski said. “I was just going to go out there and work as hard as I could and do what I could for my team. It was a tough one.”
Bachynski was supposed to box out Ridley as Texas junior forward Jonathan Holmes’ 3-pointer went up, but Ridley had snuck around him to clean up the miss.
“I expected John to make it, but, I mean, I went to the glass as hard as I could, and the ball came to me, so I tried to get it up as I possibly could and it went in,” Ridley said.
Bachynski took the blame for not checking Ridley. He wasn’t expecting the ball to bounce straight down to the floor. Bachynski was just inches out of position from blocking the put-back.
“Most rebounds come off long, and I was playing for that,” Bachynski said. “It just took a funny bounce and my man read the ball better than I did. He got the rebound and the bucket.”
Carson called the moment “tough.” He thought the team did well contesting the initial shot and said he was ready to play in overtime before he saw Ridley beat the buzzer.
“When they got the ball coming down for the last shot, we felt confident,” Carson said. “I saw everybody in a great defensive stance, and everybody had the look their man wasn't going to score. (Holmes) took a long, contest three.”
Heading into the game, the team understood what March Madness was all about. Every part of the NCAA tournament is unpredictable and that plays a big role in every game. The team had too many opportunities throughout Thursday night to pull off an upset.
Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, they ended up on the wrong side of the madness.
“Yeah, coming down in March, every game is pretty much decided by one possession, and that one possession didn't fall our way,” Carson said.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Josh_Nacion