Some teams respond well to adversity, while others shy away from the pressure. The No. 15 ASU women’s basketball team is in the first category, improving to 9-0 in games decided by five points or less or in overtime with wins at Utah and Colorado on Jan. 24 and 26.
ASU is one of the top-scoring teams in the nation, but it was the Sun Devil defense that was crucial in the Colorado victory.
The Sun Devils were able to force turnovers on the Buffaloes’ (12-7, 2-6 Pac-12) final two possessions, one with the game tied and the other with the Sun Devils up by two, to seal the victory. Junior guard Promise Amukamara stole the ball from Colorado senior guard Brittany Wilson, and ASU senior guard Adrianne Thomas was fouled on the other end and shot the game-winning free throws.
ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said that she has been preaching defensive positioning all season.
“It just speaks to my point every day: Stop fouling people,” Turner Thorne said. “Just work hard and be in the right position and good things will happen.”
Colorado dominated the boards in the second half and was able to take a lead over ASU late in the game. Unfortunately for the Buffaloes, ASU is experienced in late-game situations and took advantage of its experience and parlayed it into another conference victory.
Turner Thorne wasn’t pleased with her team’s performance rebounding the entire weekend, but maintained her position that close games are good for the team.
“We didn’t rebound the way we wanted to rebound, and obviously we didn’t play our best basketball,” Turner Thorne said. “We worked hard, and we overcame some things … that continue to build our toughness muscle.”
Friday night, the Sun Devils controlled their matchup against Utah for nearly all the game. However, the Utes (9-10, 2-6 Pac-12) were able to take the lead with less than one minute remaining in the game and were in a position to come away with a big win. ASU responded by scoring the final four points of the contest, all on free throws, and held on for a three-point victory.
Utah senior forward Michelle Plouffe played as well as she has all season, leading the Utes with 22 points and seven rebounds. The second part of Utah’s dynamic duo, freshman forward Emily Potter, didn’t play up to her season standards, scoring nine points and collecting six rebounds.
The Sun Devils return to Wells Fargo Arena Friday, Jan. 31, against Oregon State.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Tonis_The_Tiger