Women’s basketball defeats UA, advances to semifinals

The Sun Devils huddle up in a game against UCLA on Feb. 23. ASU defeated UA 68–53 on Thursday to advance to the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament. (Photo courtesy of Steve Rodriguez)

After a fast start and dominating post play, the ASU women’s basketball team defeated rival UA 68–53 in the second round of the Pac-12 tournament. The Sun Devils take on No. 1-seeded Stanford on Friday.

In the first half, it looked like the Sun Devils could make a shot with their eyes closed. They finished the half shooting 56 percent and had an impressive 16-point lead.

UA responded in the second half. The Wildcats were able to gradually chip away at the ASU lead, and even came within six points with about 11:30 left in the game.

ASU coach Joseph Anders said his team responded well to UA’s late push.

“They got going a little bit more than we wanted them to in that second half,” Anders said. “But at that particular point, our team toughness as well as the fact that Arizona did play yesterday and we did not. We were the fresher ball club. We were able to sustain the things that we needed to sustain and finish the ball game.”

Offensively, the forwards led the Sun Devils. Senior Kimberly Brandon led the team with 15 points. Senior forward Kali Bennett scored 10 points.

Besides scoring baskets, Bennett had an impressive all-around game to help the Sun Devils. She finished with six rebounds, five assists and four blocks.

Anders said ASU had the advantage in the frontcourt.

“When we looked at the Arizona team, the one thing that we talked about is that the strength of our team was the weakness of their team,” Anders said. “We wanted to play with a style of inside-out. We wanted to get the ball inside and give our posts opportunities to convert.”

ASU will need another impressive performance from their post players when they take on Stanford in the Staples Center.

The Cardinal is led by two of the more dominant post players in the country.

The Ogwumike sister forwards, senior Nnemkadi and sophomore Chiney, will be the focus of the ASU defense tomorrow.

In their first tournament game against Washington, Nnemkadi recorded 18 points and seven rebounds. Chiney had 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Bennett and Brandon said the Sun Devils plan is to make the sisters work on the glass.

“I think the vital thing is going to be rebounds tomorrow,” Bennett said. “I think that if we get focused on boards and get the majority of them, we can come out with a victory.”

Anders said the last time the Sun Devils played Stanford, they hung tough with the Cardinal. But late in the game, Stanford was able to pull away and secure a victory.

The month of March always features some great upsets, and Anders said he hopes the Sun Devils can be part of one tomorrow against the No. 2 team in the country.

“In March, as you have watched the tournaments across the country, there’s always the potential for an upset,” Anders said. “I say to you, and I say to my team: ‘Why not us?’”

 

Reach the reporter at ehubbard@asu.edu
Click here to subscribe to the daily State Press newsletter.