ASU basketball storms back, falls short vs. USC ahead of Pac-12 Tournament

Mar 4, 2023, 11:34 PM | Updated: Mar 6, 2023, 9:42 am
Tre White #22 of the USC Trojans battles for possession against Alonzo Gaffney #32 of the Arizona S...
Tre White #22 of the USC Trojans battles for possession against Alonzo Gaffney #32 of the Arizona State Sun Devils during a game between the USC Trojans and the Arizona State Sun Devils at Galen Center on March 04, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

Arizona State made less than 30% of its shots in a 68-65 loss at USC on Saturday night, but the Sun Devils still had a chance to force overtime.

Guard DJ Horne’s step-back 3 at the buzzer missed off the iron, and ASU failed to pick up a potentially difference-making victory in its push to make the NCAA Tournament.

The ASU (20-11, 11-9) offense struggled to get going until late, as it took a 20-9 run over the final six minutes to get the game back within reach.

Aside from Horne, who scored a team-high 20 points, nobody had a strong shooting night for ASU. Desmond Cambridge Jr. went 1-for-11, Warren Washington — who entered the game shooting over 60% — went 3-for-11 and the team finished with only nine assists.

The Sun Devils also went 6-for-28 from beyond the arc.

Rebounding and defense kept ASU competitive when the shots did not fall. ASU outscored USC (22-9, 14-6) off turnovers 17-10, as well.

A critical juncture came with just under 14 minutes left in the game. ASU on a fast break had a 3-on-1 opportunity, but a lob too high for Devan Cambridge led to a miss, and USC’s Boogie Ellis drained a 3 on the other end.

What could have been a five-point game ballooned to 13 before ASU scored again.

USC led by as many as 14 on Saturday, and Ellis led all scorers with 28 points.

ASU jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the first half despite a slow start, but the Sun Devils ended the first half having missed 12 straight field-goal attempts.

USC went on a 15-2 run heading into the break and led 29-20.

Arizona State entered the matchup teetering on the NCAA Tournament bubble. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had ASU among the first four teams out on his latest Bracketology.

The Sun Devils opened Saturday No. 64 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings and No. 63 in NET rankings.

Picking up a road win vs. a team receiving AP Top 25 votes could have been a major boost to the resume.

But ASU still has chances in the Pac-12 Tournament, which starts Wednesday in Las Vegas.

The Sun Devils will face Oregon State at 9:30 p.m.

With a win, ASU would face USC again.

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