Stifling defense not enough for women’s hoops, fall to No. 19 UCLA 54-50

The Sun Devils carried over their aggressive defensive efforts to No. 19 UCLA but didn’t have enough offensive power to pull off the upset Sunday afternoon.

The ASU women’s basketball team (11-9, 3-5) lost the defensive battle away from home, 54-50. The Bruins (15-4, 6-2) averaged 71 points coming into the game.

An offensively efficient second half against USC was enough for the win on Friday, but ASU shot just 36 percent from the field against UCLA.

“We just didn’t execute on the offensive end,” coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “We’re so much better than we play in these games sometimes.”

The Sun Devils slowed the game down and controlled the pace.

“We did execute our game plan,” Turner Thorne said. “I thought (we) controlled the tempo, we took away UCLA’s transition game and forced them into a lot of turnovers.”

UCLA turned the ball over 23 times. The Sun Devils finished the game with 15 steals but also committed 19 turnovers.

“I thought we worked really hard, but we played a little soft down the stretch on defense, which really hurt us,” Turner Thorne said.

Regardless, ASU needed to perform on both ends to carry out the upset.

The Bruins’ offense started to get going as they shot 50 percent from the field in the second half.

As soon as the Sun Devils would be close to taking the lead, the Bruins answered.

Inside the last two minutes of the game, there were two instances when ASU had cut the lead to two and three points. Both times the Bruins responded with three-pointers, both by freshmen.

UCLA freshman guard Nierra Fields led the way scoring a game-high 13 points, hitting three triples and grabbing eight rebounds.

What once used to be a strength for the Sun Devils has now become a weakness. ASU was outrebounded for its sixth straight game, grabbing only 26 compared to the UCLA’s 35.

Redshirt senior Janae Fulcher shared the game-high with 13 points. Fulcher and starting center Joy Burke combined for only five rebounds.

Although it’s another loss in conference, the weekend has been a positive one for this year’s squad.

“I’m really proud of the growth of our team this weekend,” Turner Thorne said. “We played not great basketball today, but we got so much tougher. A ranked team, on their home floor, without one of our starting guards, and we were right there.”

This weekend the Sun Devils have shown the defensive prowess and the offensive balance they’re capable of. Now it’s a matter of putting it together and moving forward from here.

Seven of the remaining 10 conference games for the Sun Devils are at home.

 

Reach the reporter at gdemano@asu.edu