Tuesday night’s bout between the Sun Devils and Cornell was a tale of two halves.
In the first half, the Sun Devils shot an abysmal 16.7 percent from behind the arc, and were trailing by three points at the break.
However, in the second half the Sun Devils emerged as a different team, dropping 42 points and coasting to a 64-53 win.
“I thought our guys hung in there and battled on a night where we obviously struggled to make shots,” head coach Herb Sendek said. “We had really good energy to start the second half.”
Jahii Carson led all scorers with a career high 21 points and also had three rebounds and four assists. He did most of his damage in the second half, scoring 15 points.
“We usually come out to a great tip off, we’re usually energized,” Carson said. “In the second half our momentum got going. We started hitting shots and we got the energy flowing…I like to get a lot of energy going in crunch time. I like to be in attack mode in the last five minutes.”
Jordan Bachynski nearly tallied a triple-double in Thursday night’s game (Photo: WCSN/Nick KruegerBoth teams struggled to get things going in the first half. Cornell went 8-23 shooting in the first half and committed 13 turnovers. The Sun Devils struggled to get any productivity in the paint (Center Jordan Bachynski only had one point) and missed 15 three point shots. ASU held a 19-18 lead with just over four minutes left to play, but Cornell then went on a 7-0 run to get a 25-19 lead. As time expired, Carson was able to hit a three-pointer, which made the game 25-22 in favor of Cornell.
“A disproportionate number of our shots came from three. We were impatient and quick to settle in the first half,” Sendek said. “Jahii gave us momentum with the three-pointer going into the break.”
The momentum shift was apparent in the early minutes in the second half. Forward Carrick Felix got two quick buckets and Bachynski got a dunk to give ASU the 28-25 lead. Bachynski made his presence felt in the second half by recording seven points, seven rebounds, and six blocks. Cornell, however, remained resilient and was able to recapture a 38-36 lead with 11 minutes remaining in the game.
ASU was able to answer back with a Bachynski layup, a Jonathan Gilling three, and a Felix three to give them a 44-38 lead. Carson also made eight free throws in the last four minutes to close out the game, and give the Sun Devils the win.
Next up, the Sun Devils will face off against Arkansas on Friday as part of the Las Vegas Invitational. With three wins under their belt, Sendek has a good feeling heading into the tournament.
“It’s been a great start for us. [We have] good momentum and we obviously face a great challenge this weekend. It’s going to be perfectly timed for our team. We’ll learn some more about ourselves,” Sendek said. “But I think we’ve gotten out of the gates the way we’ve wanted to.”