After a close win Friday night over Colorado, the ASU women’s basketball team looked to keep its momentum going on Senior Day. That is exactly what the team was able to do Sunday afternoon.
The Sun Devils (22-6, 11-5 Pac-12) took down Utah, 60-40, to wrap up the team’s home schedule. The win puts their final home record at 14-1, with the lone loss coming to No. 5 Stanford.
Fittingly, the senior class led the way for ASU in its final game at Wells Fargo Arena. Redshirt senior guard Deja Mann scored 11 points, redshirt senior center Joy Burke scored 10, and senior guard Adrianne Thomas scored six, had four rebounds and dished out four assists.
The Utes (11-16, 4-12 Pac-12) hung tight in the first half before falling off tremendously in the second stanza. Utah was just 4-22 from the field in the second half but was able to shoot 9-12 from the free throw line for most of its points.
Freshman forward Malia Nawahine led the way for Utah, scoring 12 points off the bench.
Thomas felt that the post defense set up how the rest of the team played in the second half.
“Keeping Utah in front of us and out of our paint,” Thomas said. “They take their time and have great sets, so we had to really dig down and play deny defense.”
Turner Thorne credits her team’s toughness as the key to its defensive effort.
“I think it was more that we wore them down,” Turner Thorne said. “We kind of kept the pressure up, and we made (senior forward Michelle) Plouffe’s touches hard.”
Plouffe fell below her season averages, only scoring 10 points on 4-14 shooting and pulling down seven rebounds for the Utes.
Turner Thorne realizes how good of a player Plouffe is and what an accomplishment it is to contain her.
“Michelle Plouffe is one of the best players in the conference,” Turner Thorne said. “The other twin tower for them got hurt this year for them, and she’s just a great player.”
Mann cited her teammates’ communication as a major point in stopping Utah’s star forward.
“When we have matchups we don’t leave them on an island,” Mann said. “Teams call isos against us, but I think it’s really difficult to iso our team.”
With 2:22 left in the game, Turner Thorne took out her seniors for the last time to a standing ovation from the crowd at Wells Fargo Arena.
Burke found it hard to put into words exactly how it felt to walk off the court during a home game for the final time.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Burke said. “When you’re an underclassman, you just want to play hard to honor the seniors, but when you’re actually in the moment of it, and you realize it’s the last time you’ll be playing in front of this crowd… It’s a good way to be remembered.”
“It’s just wonderful to be able to honor the day,” Turner Thorne said. “Obviously, we have a lot that we’re playing for right now, but most importantly was to send the seniors out with a win.”
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Tonis_The_Tiger