Earl sets career high in win over Buffaloes

Alex Earl attempts a free throw in a game against Utah on Thursday. Earl finished Saturday’s game with nine points from the free throw line. (Photo courtesy of Steve Rodriguez)

It took some time, but the ASU women’s basketball team was able to secure a 60–47 victory over Colorado on Saturday night.

When the Sun Devils first tipped off against CU, they seemed out of sorts offensively.

They struggled to find their shots and shot 38.5 percent from the field in the first half.

The Sun Devils held a small 29–23 lead at halftime.

Senior guard Alex Earl said the team’s sluggish start was a result of altitude adjustment.

“I think that we might have been a step slow really because of the altitude,” Earl said. “We’re not a team that’s going to give ourselves excuses at all, so once we got in the flow of things and caught our breath a little bit, I think we were okay.”

The Sun Devils adjusted well in the second half, and their offense responded.

Just about three minutes into the second half, the ASU offense exploded, and the Sun Devils went on a 10–0 scoring run to increase their lead to 14.

ASU hit their shots, but Earl gave credit to the defense for the run.

“We don’t like to trade baskets with other teams, so I think our 10-point spurt came from us getting stops on defense,” Earl said. “When we do that, our offense flows.”

The Sun Devils secured the lead because of the scoring run. They just had to hold on to the lead for the rest of the game.

Led by junior guard Chucky Jeffery, the Buffaloes battled back late in the game to cut the Sun Devils’ lead to seven.

Late in the game, ASU stepped up defensively and shut down the Buffaloes to win.

Redshirt junior forward Janae Fulcher said the team remained composed as the seconds wound down.

“We just really had to stay calm, that was the big thing about it,” Fulcher said. “What we focused on a lot was that they had to come to us in order to win.”

The last time ASU played Colorado, the Sun Devils held the Buffaloes to only nine first-half points.

In both victories, ASU did an incredible job defending Jeffery, CU’s top scorer.

Jeffery finished the night with 10 points, but only made three field goals. The ASU defense held her average back both times the teams faced each other this season.

“I think Chucky Jeffery is going to have nightmares about us the rest of her career,” assistant coach Chris Mennig said. “We are in her head for sure. The kids have really taken a lot of pride. They knew she was the engine, and they really did a great job of taking away what she liked to do.”

Earl and Fulcher led the charge offensively for the Sun Devils.

Earl scored 14 points and set a new career high. She scored nine of her 14 points from the free throw line. As an outside shooter, Earl does not see the stripe a lot.

Mennig said he wishes she would get fouled more often from the 3-point arc because she is so consistent from the line.

Fulcher also chipped in 16 points, two points shy of her career high.

 

Reach the reporter at ehubbard@asu.edu