At the beginning of the season, coach Charli Turner Thorne knew the incoming freshmen would impact her team in a big way, but she didn’t expect this.
Forwards Kelsey Moos and Sophie Brunner combined for 30 points and 18 rebounds as the ASU women’s basketball team won the ASU Classic and its seventh straight game with a 74-67 overtime victory over Long Beach State.
“I was really excited that we got (Moos) back today because I knew, like just perimeter defense wise and rebounding wise, she could make a huge difference in this game,” Turner Thorne said. “(Brunner) just continues to make great strides.”
The 49ers (5-3), who mounted a 23-point comeback win over Harvard just to make it to the tournament championship, played like a team that had been tested against quality opposition. Ultimately, the Sun Devils (8-1) broke their five-game winning streak, though it wasn’t easy.
“I think their character is coming through in these games. This game helped us build our toughness muscle,” Turner Thorne said.
Turner Thorne said that while reviewing footage of Long Beach State Sunday morning, she flipped onto The Three Stooges, something that she called “prophetic.”
The Sun Devils turned the ball over 26 times and shot just 42 percent from the field and 22 percent from beyond the arc. ASU had to push through the mistakes, winning on grit and determination.
“When you’re shooting yourself in the foot, it’s hard to stay positive,” Turner Thorne said. “I give our team a ton of credit for that.”
With 1.1 seconds remaining in regulation, LBSU junior forward Ella Clark received an inbound pass and converted on a buzzer-beating layup to send the game to overtime. ASU came to its senses in overtime, exploding for 15 points in the five-minute period.
“We kind of just talked about picking it up and staying with things in overtime and really picking it up on the defensive side of things and getting stops so we could have good looks on offense and just take care of the ball,” Brunner said.
The Sun Devils, who often substitute four or five players at a time, keep fresh legs on the court. ASU is now 2-0 in overtime this year, in part because they have the energy to keep the foot on the gas pedal. In the overtime win over No. 11 North Carolina, the Sun Devils outscored the Tar Heels 17-4 in overtime.
“Our depth, it does allow us to keep fresh bodies in and just keep going at people,” said redshirt senior guard Deja Mann who described the win as “ugly.”
The Sun Devils travel to Southern California to play Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 14 before returning to Tempe to face Miami (Florida) and Syracuse in their final games of the nonconference schedule.
Additional ASU Classic Notes
Sunday’s victory was Turner Thorne’s 350th career victory.
Mann and Moos were named to the all-tournament team and Brunner earned the tournament’s most valuable player award.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenMargiott