Jordan Bachynski recorded a school record nine blocks along with a double-double as Arizona State defeated Central Arkansas 79-64 in the season opener Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Sun Devils pulled out to an early 11-2 lead, but the Bears slowly chipped away to tie the game at 29 after two Jordan Harks free throws, forcing head coach Herb Sendek to call timeout.
“I just gave them a hard time,” Sendek said. “I just didn’t like the way we were playing. I just thought we were being soft with the ball and cute on offense; they were beating us to loose balls and getting offensive rebounds and that’s not Sun Devil basketball so I shared my opinion with the guys.”
“The guys” certainly came out inspired and ended the half on a 20-2 run and went into halftime up 49-31. Central Arkansas then came out on a 9-2 run cutting the lead to 51-40 before ASU went on a 10-1 run of their own, giving them a 61-41 lead, their largest of the game, with 14:56 left to play.
Bachynski exploited his matchup all game long against a much smaller Jordan Harks. “I just played really hard and did what I could for my team,” Bachynski said. He added that he wasn’t aware of the blocks record or double-double until after the game was over. “You can’t play hard unless you have the right mindset and that was a focus for me in this game … I just went to the boards as hard as I could.”
“He just continues to get better, I think we saw him take some positive strides in the last third of the season last year. It was good to see him start in that direction this evening, ” Sendek said. “I thought he did a heck of a job, really happy for him and proud of him.”
Evan Gordon puts up a solid performance in his first game as a Sun Devil. (Photo by WCSN’s Evan Webeck)
Five Sun Devils finished with double-digit points, including Jahii Carson. “Words can’t really explain it … I was just glad to be out there … I felt like a kid in a candy store for the most part … it felt good to be out there,” Carson said, who finished the night with 15 points and five assists.
Jonathan Gilling finished with 11 points, six rebounds, and played a team high 35 minutes. Carrick Felix tallied seven points and 11 rebounds but struggled to finish at the rim most of the night. Transfer Evan Gordon had 14 points, eight rebounds, and five steals, but shot only 4-16, including 1-9 from behind the arc. Bo Barnes only saw two minutes of action and Ruslan Pateev scored five points.
“We have to do a better job of exercising patience on offense when we don’t have a quick strike,” Sendek said. He went onto say that the three areas that hurt the team the most were transition defense, too much penetration and defensive rebounding. For a team that lacks size, Central Arkansas finished only one rebound behind Arizona State.
“For us this was a really important game, we wanted to get off to a good start we wanted to take care of business at home,” Sendek said. “Certainly we have a great deal of work ahead of us.”
Arizona State’s next game is Sunday, November 18th vs. Florida A&M at 1:00 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena in the preliminary round of the Las Vegas Continental Tire Invitational.