It becomes a tough game to win when ASU’s opponents have the best three-point shooting game of any Pac-12 team this season.
It also didn’t help that the Sun Devils (11-11, 3-7) were short-handed versus the Washington Huskies (16-5, 8-2 Pac-12) in their Sunday morning loss.
The Sun Devils lost 74-61 because UW stayed on fire all game from behind the arc. The Huskies drained 15 three-pointers on 32 attempts.
ASU was without its starting point guard and one of its top bench players as well.
The Sun Devils played a zone defense in the first half and played both man-to-man and zone in the second half. Neither worked.
“We’re just young and challenged. Washington gets its threes in man also. They are a great dribble drive team.” coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “We were supposed to be more matched up with the shooters. With our young crew, making adjustments isn’t our strong suit.”
UW came into the game No. 1 in the Pac-12 in three-pointers made and three-point percentage.
The Huskies managed to make six three-pointers in the first half.
The Sun Devils’ offense was efficient. ASU shot 48 percent and held a 33-29 lead.
Each team attempted to take control throughout the game with both teams responding as one would try to extend its lead.
With 10 minutes left in the game, the Huskies went on a 12-6 run to take a 66-56 lead.
UW hit one three-pointer after another in the second half. It went 9-15 from distance in the second half.
Rotations were too slow for the Huskies’ efficient ball movement, but the Sun Devil communication wasn’t quite there either.
“I think it’s a combination of both. The first half we didn’t shift hard and the second half we didn’t communicate,” sophomore guard Promise Amukamara said.
ASU was without one of its top reserve freshmen Haley Videckis, who tweaked her ankle at practice on Saturday.
“Haley has been a dominate post for us. She’s stepped up offensively but her talking and awareness on the floor is huge for us and her rebounding is huge for us,” redshirt senior Janae Fulcher said.
The Sun Devils also missed its starting point guard. Junior Adrianne Thomas did not play due to the concussion she suffered on Friday.
“She’s our floor leader, and I think she’s really accepted that role this season in being a vocal leader and setting the tone in our offense and defense,” Fulcher said.
The Sun Devils missed both of them and it was evident.
They held sophomore guard Jazmine Davis to 0-7 shooting in the first half but couldn’t contain redshirt freshmen forward Tahlia Walton.
While hitting six three-pointers, Walton finished with a season-high 26 points and nine rebounds. She had an all-around game, blocking three shots as well.
ASU couldn’t contain Davis for long as she scored 13 of her 16 in the second half.
ASU falls to WSU
The Sun Devils simply struggled to find the basket throughout the whole game.
The ASU women’s basketball team (11-9, 3-6) shot a dismal 26 percent on its way to a 54-43 loss to the Washington State Cougars.
“It’s pretty tough when everybody’s off,” coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “You have to score and we had good looks, shots in the paint, open perimeter looks and we missed everything,”
During the first half, it was a similar case for the Cougars (7-13, 3-6). They shot 36 percent and led 30-20.
The Cougars found their stroke in the second half and they shot 46 percent from the field compared to ASU’s brutal 19 percent.
They took control of the game then and pulled off an 18-6 run for the first 16 minutes of that half.
For most of the game, ASU created the looks it wanted, but nothing would fall.
Freshmen Arnecia Hawkins shot 7-12 from the field, hitting four three-pointers and finishing with a career-high 18 points.
Freshmen Isidora Purkovic made a three-pointer, her only shot of the game.
Those were the only two Sun Devils that shot over 30 percent.
The last time ASU shot under 30 percent as a team was Jan. 18 when it shot 24 percent in a Colorado loss.
It’s difficult to win a game with a poor shooting night. It’s even harder with a young team that has no veteran leadership.
“I think we just got really frustrated and that took away from our effort and focus on the boards and other aspects, like our decision-making,” Turner Thorne said. “With this young team, when they can’t make shots, they kind of just went in the tank.”
The Sun Devils played a zone defense for most of the game.
While they haven’t played much of it all season, they don’t blame the change in strategy.
“Overall, defense is defense and you just have to work hard in it the entire time until you can get the stop that you want,” Hawkins said.
Senior forward Janae Fulcher said this type of zone was focused more on guarding the opponents’ perimeter shooting.
“It brought a lot of extension to our zone, and they really pulled us out. We didn’t really cover the middle and baseline,” Fulcher said.
Almost every team in the conference can spread the floor, so that must be an aspect ASU improves on soon.
“Something to prepare for in the future cause there’s a lot of good shooters in the Pac-12,” Fulcher said.
ASU was outrebounded once again 46-35.
Matters only get worse in the interior. Sophomore Jada Blackwell has reportedly left the women’s basketball program.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org