It has been the ASU womens basketball team’s problem for the past several games, and it hurt them once again.
The Sun Devils (11-14, 3-10) had their third worst shooting night of the season in its loss to Utah Friday.
The Utes (14-10, 5-8), now winners of their last four of five games, shot 42 percent compared to ASU’s 27 percent and won the game 54-46.
Similar to many of its past losses, ASU was effective on several facets of the game. However, its offense has been so poor that great efforts on the boards and on defense aren’t quite enough.
“I was pleased with our physical effort,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “We defended. We got it done on that end. I thought we controlled the boards pretty well throughout the game.”
The Sun Devils held the Utes to six points below their season average. ASU also out-rebounded them 41-38.
“But you have to be able to score, you have to be able to execute,” Turner Thorne said. “And those are the two things we fell short on.”
No Sun Devil finished in double figures. Junior center Joy Burke finished with eight points and 11 rebounds.
With ASU’s youth and inexperience, translating the details of the game has been difficult for the Sun Devils.
“We need to listen better as a team,” Burke said. “A lot of those breakdowns and long possessions are because we’re not on the same page as each other. Everyone has to lock-in and focus on what we need to do on offense.”
ASU’s apparent weakness has been on offense, and until the team fixes that, it will be hard for the Sun Devils to see success. Its defense, paired with rebounding, wasn’t perfect but showed during the game and kept them from a more severe loss.
“Honestly, our defense was good enough even though (Utah junior Michelle) Plouffe had a big game,” Turne Thorne said.
Plouffe finished with another double-double, scoring a game-high 21 points and securing a career-high 17 rebounds.
Plouffe helped the Canadian national team reach the quarterfinals in the 2012 London Olympics and has much experience playing at a high level.
“I feel like it is a little bit of an advantage because she knows how to counter when we play defense,” junior guard Adrienne Thomas said.
With four minutes left in the first half, the Sun Devils held a 19-17 lead. But in those closing minutes the Utes put on a 9-2 run. Up by five points starting the second half, Utah went on another 10-6 but before it could pull away, freshman guard Elisha Davis drove down the right lane and floated in a layup before getting knocked down and fouled to cut the lead to six.
ASU’s shooting woes caught up to the Sun Devils in the second half and prevented them from taking the lead.
The drive by Davis, however, was something positive. Something the crowd was excited about. A tougher, more aggressive offense is something the Sun Devils could use.
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