Like many other games so far this season, the ASU women’s basketball team was in a tight battle at the end. History repeated itself Sunday afternoon as the Sun Devils pulled out a victory, 59-57, this time stopping UCLA’s chances to tie and win the game as time expired.
The Sun Devils have been exceptional in close games this season, and that experience helped them Sunday.
Junior guard Promise Amukamara said practicing late-game scenarios in practice helps when they arise in games.
“We prepare for these kinds of situations in practice,” Amukamara said. “Once you do it in practice and take care of business in practice, it’s a lot easier in the games.”
Head coach Charli Turner Thorne knows nothing will come easy in conference play.
“This is the Pac-12 and there are no easy games,” Turner Thorne said. “We are getting great experience and great confidence.”
The Sun Devils started out slow, falling behind 10-2 just three minutes into the game. ASU responded, however, scoring the next nine points and dominated the rest of the half.
Senior guards Adrianne Thomas and Deja Mann led the way in the first half with seven and six points, respectively. Freshman forward Sophie Brunner contributed five points herself, while adding seven rebounds.
The second half was closely matched, with three ties and four lead changes. ASU missed free throws in the final minute, resulting in the Bruins having chances to win and tie the game in the final seconds.
The Bruins were led by senior forward Atonye Nyingifa and sophomore guard Nirra Fields, who combined for 39 points and 18 rebounds in the loss.
In the second half, the Sun Devils’ post play flourished, led by redshirt senior Joy Burke’s presence. Burke scored nine of her team-leading 11 points in the second half.
“I think at halftime we talked about that we needed more of an inside game,” Burke said. “All the guards had great passes inside and it was just a matter of me wanting the ball.”
The post presence of Burke wasn’t overlooked by Turner Thorne.
“As conference has started (Burke) has really come on and played the way we knew she could play,” Turner Thorne said.
Even though the team came out on top, the Sun Devils were not elated with their play.
“This was some of our worst shot selection,” Turner Thorne said. “We forced some shots, we missed shots. We did not do what we asked them to do offensively.”
The Sun Devils will look for their 15th win on Friday as the team will play host to the No. 19 California Bears at 11 a.m. MST.
Freshman forward Kelsey Moos played only seven minutes due to illness, Turner Thorne said she is sure that Moos will be back for Friday’s game.
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