No. 23 ASU women’s basketball goes 6-1 during winter break, jumps into AP poll

The ASU women’s basketball team didn’t take much of a break during the winter holiday. The Sun Devils kept their foot on the accelerator, going 6-1 during that span, including wins over then-No. 20 Syracuse and then-Pac-12 leader USC.

If that wasn’t good enough, ASU even hopped into the AP Top 25, coming in at No. 24 after the victory over Miami (Fl.) and bumping up to No. 23 after its first conference split at Washington State and Washington.

Coach Charli Turner Thorne said she was pleased with her team’s performance during the winter break.

“I thought we had great success,” Turner Thorne said. “I thought we had two huge home games in Miami and Syracuse.”

The Sun Devils (14-2, 3-1 Pac-12) went 11-1 in the nonconference, including a 10-game winning streak to close out the preseason. Their only loss was to No. 24 San Diego, which is 15-0.

The Pac-12 schedule started with a minor bump, when WSU upset the Sun Devils in Pullman.

“This is our least favorite time, the window that we are just finishing right now, the not in school window,” Turner Thorne said. “They don’t have anything to do. It’s just the worst time, so I thought we weathered this time really well.”

But ASU responded by rattling off three straight victories, including a pair of home games against USC and UCLA. Now that the break is over, Turner Thorne expects even more of her team.

“I think we’re going to be more locked in now that we are starting school,” Turner Thorne said. “That’s historically what happens.”

Overtime success

The trend of overtime dominance continued during winter break, when the Sun Devils outscored USC 17-9 to take their second straight Pac-12 game.

ASU is now 3-0 in overtime this season, outscoring the opposition by an average of more than nine points in the overtime period.

Increased scoring

The Sun Devils proved over winter break that their increased scoring output wasn’t a nonconference fluke. ASU has averaged 77.3 points per game in its first four Pac-12 games, just a tick below its nonconference average (77.4).

ASU averaged just 58.9 points per game in the 2012-13 season.

Turner Thorne moves up the list

With 316 wins, Turner Thorne is now second all-time among Pac-12 basketball coaches, passing Chris Gobrecht, who had 312 wins at Washington and USC.

However, Turner Thorne will have to stick around for a few more years to claim the top spot, as Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer has 751 career victories.

Hempen heats up

Redshirt sophomore guard Katie Hempen, whom Turner Thorne has praised for her ability to shoot 3-pointers, started to showcase that talent over the break. Hempen went 3-of-6 from beyond the arc against Cal State Fullerton and 4-of-6 from downtown against Washington.

The Sun Devils continue their Pac-12 schedule this weekend, when ASU hosts California and Stanford.

 

Reach the reporter at bmargiot@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @BenMargiott