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February 26, 2012A wolverine is a small animal known for its ferocious, mean and vicious behavior. Its determination is immeasurable, and the creature is unafraid of its foes. It's also Arizona State sophomore Jordan Bachynski's favorite animal.
Although Bachynski's physical makeup is nothing similar to that of a wolverine, he showed its other qualities against USC Saturday night, most notably its indomitable spirit.
Thanks in large part to Bachynski's determined effort, ASU defeated USC Saturday night, 56-52, at Wells Fargo Arena, and as a result swept the Trojans for the first time since 1995. With the win, ASU improved to 9-20 and 5-12 in the Pac-12. USC fell to 6-23 and 1-15 in league play.
Bachynski had a team high 19 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, including the Sun Devils' first six points of the game.
But it was a singular effort -- aided by a bit of luck -- by a teammate in the game's final minute that ensured Bachysnki's performance wasn't for naught.
With 28 seconds left and ASU seemingly frantic to try and make something happen leading 53-52 with 10 seconds on the shot clock, its coach Herb Sendek called a timeout to talk things over.
"We kind of were running our offense and letting them play, and then it became apparent to me that we weren't set up real good," Sendek said. "So we elected to call one of our remaining timeouts, and we set up a ball screen."
The ball screen would be used by junior point guared Chris Colvin, who found a seam in the defense and knifed through the lane. Colvin, falling out of bounds near the right side of the basket, lobbed up a prayer toward the rim and watched it splash through the net while fouled on the play.
Colvin said he was astonished the ball went in.
"I just want to thank God, that was the first thing," Colvin said in regards to what he thought after hitting the layup. "That was just it, really. Just get up on the rim and hopefully it goes in."
Colvin's free throw gave ASU a 56-52 lead and USC failed to get a good look at the basket on its final possession of the game.
Afterwards, Bachynski credited Colvin for his success.
"That's solely on our guards; they played amazing," Bachynski said. "Anyone could have scored with the passes they were giving to me. They placed the ball in the perfect spot where I was able to be effective."
With Bachynski's parents in attendance, the sophomore center was relieved he played well.
"My mom came to me before the game," Bachynski said. "She was like, 'Please just play well, don't have a bad game while I'm in town!'"
The Sun Devils had a hot shooting touch early on, similar to last Thursday's game against UCLA, by going 8-for-9 in the first 11:11 of the game. ASU had a halftime lead of 31-26 and continued to take advantage of Bachynski's animal-like play throughout the second half.
With 13:28 left in the game, USC took a 39-38 lead, its first since the 12:01 mark of the first half. With a Pac-12 win on the line and a chance to end its four game losing streak, ASU's determination was fully showcased near the end of the game on the defensive end of the floor.
USC didn't score from the field in the game's final 11:16. The Sun Devils, however, also didn't score in the final 5:41, at least not until Colvin's game clincher.
"That was a heck of a play," Bachynski said. "That's clutch and even more clutch that he made the free throw to put the lead to four."
Freshman guard Byron Wesley led USC in scoring with 22 points.
ASU will play rival Arizona next Sunday, March 4 in its last game of the regular season. Colvin believes it's crucial to end the season on a high note with a win.
"It's important," he said. "To close the season strong verses Arizona is going to be a big thing, but just giving us momentum for next year and just giving us hope for next year."
Felix still out
ASU junior wing Carrick Felix was out for his second straight game due to illness; however, Sendek hopes Felix will practice Monday.
"I think he's getting better but still wasn't even here for the game," Sendek said. "He's really been out of it this week. We're going to take tomorrow off, Sunday, which we always try to do, and hopefully Monday he'll come back."