Pickens, Blackwell help women’s hoops improve to 5-4

Sophomore forward Jada Blackwell tied her career-high in points with 14 at Providence and contributed another 10 at Boston College, as the Sun Devils won both road games to improve to 5-4. (Photo by Kyle Newman)

The ASU women’s basketball team won both games last weekend and put itself over .500 for the first time all season.

The Sun Devils (5-4) defeated the Providence Friars and had some of their best performances of the season against the Boston College Eagles, as senior Micaela Pickens and sophomore Jada Blackwell had big weekends for the Sun Devils.

ASU didn’t particularly shoot the ball well or take care of it against the Friars (2-7) Friday night, shooting 40 percent from the field and turning it over 23 times. ASU, however, flourished on the glass.

ASU out-rebounded Providence 38-23. The Sun Devils grabbed 20 offensive rebounds, which contributed to 15 second-chance points.

Pickens provided the offense, hitting four 3-pointers on her way to a career-high of 15 points.

Blackwell, who shot 14 points off the bench, tied her career-high, as ASU won 67-58.

Sunday afternoon was a prime example of the Sun Devils hard work paying off.

Turnovers have been the biggest problem all season. Against Boston College (5-4), however, ASU totaled its lowest amount of turnovers this season (15), which led to some of its best offense execution of the season.

“It (turnovers) was a huge improvement for us,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “Our execution was possibly the best it has been all year, to be honest.”

The Sun Devils shot the ball well, hitting on 51 percent of their shots.

“I’ve said it all along, we have a good shooting team and have worked on shooting a lot,” Turner Thorne said. “Our coaching staff has firmly believed if we keep shooting, it’s going to show itself and it did this weekend.”

On offense, the Sun Devils executed effectively on reading double teams in the post and kicking it back out to the perimeter. They shot 8-17 from the 3-point line.

Pickens nailed another four 3-pointers in this game, finishing with 14.

She has picked it up offensively, averaging 12.6 points in her last three contests.

“I’m not rushing and I’m letting the offense work itself instead of me working the offense,” Pickens said.

ASU blew the game open five minutes into the second half when it began a 13-2 run and extended its lead to 58-43.

“I think what really changed was our defense,” Pickens said. “We came out in the second half and we played the defense we knew we should have. In the first half, it just wasn’t as aggressive as our man-to-man is or should be.”

ASU ended up winning the game 68-59.

Blackwell contributed in every facet. She finished in double-digits again with 10 points, along with three rebounds, four assists, and two steals.

Blackwell is one of many young players on the team who has found her groove in the middle of the season and embraced her role.

“I’ve made up my mind I’m going to play my potential,” Blackwell said. “I’m just playing harder, with more toughness and more grit.”

After some rough games of poor offense execution and numerous turnovers early in the season, the tide may be changing for the Sun Devils.

 

Reach the reporter at gdemano@asu.edu