Comeback falls short, ASU swept in L.A.

Los Angeles. A city where just as many dreams come true as they are broken, and today the ASU basketball team can surely attest to that later part of that statement. The Sun Devils suffered a second straight heartbreaking loss in the City of Angels this week, falling 57-56 to USC, a defeat that all but stripped them from any hopes of making the NCAA tournament.

Going scoreless for nearly for the first four minutes of the contest, and scoring a season-low 20 first half points, naturally had Arizona State (20-10, 9-8 Pac-12) in a never-ending uphill battle all afternoon at the Galen Center. USC (14-15, 9-7) led by as many as 18 points in that period, but the visitors outscored the Trojans 13-6 in the last 4:37 minutes of the half, as ASU mercifully trailed just 31-20 at the half.

ASU started the second stanza on a better note on offense, but simply couldn't stop USC on the other end of the floor and trailed 46:30 with 11:08 left in the game. The Sun Devils' fortunes seemed to have turned when USC's Jio Fontan was called for an intentional foul on Jahii Carson who made his two free throws and Chris Colvin added a layup as ASU retained possession, and both baskets cut down the deficit to 51-45 with 5:40 left.

Down 55-52 the Trojans' J.T. Terrell's shot didn't hit the rim but the shot clock was reset and USC's Eric Wise was fouled by Jordan Bachynski. After a long deliberation by the referees and examination of the game monitors, it was determined that the ASU foul occurred with 0.1 seconds left on the shot clock and Wise proceeded to make his two charity stripe shots.

Surely a controversial call that exemplified the kind of afternoon the Sun Devils were having.

Four consecutive points by Carson made it 57-56. Wise missed the front end of a one and one free throw shot, and with four seconds left Carson dribbled up the court and attempted a desperation three point shot that hit the back rim. The loss marked a season-high third straight defeat for ASU.

Carson recorded his 14th 20-point game, as he paced all players with 23 points, to along with four assists. Bachynski added 17 points, 12 of them in the second half. Colvin had 10 points off the bench and four steals. Carrick Felix recorded nine rebounds but posted just four points on 2-10 shooting. Wise led USC with 12 points.

ASU held USC to 39.2 percent shooting, but on offense converted at just 42.9 percent clip. The Sun Devils were just 1-12 from beyond the arc and 7-11 from the free throw line.

The Sun Devils close out the regular season a week from today in Tucson as they face the University of Arizona. Even an improbable win in that game would still have to be followed with capturing the Pac-12 tournament title in two weeks in order to punch ASU's ticket into the Big Dance.

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