The ASU women’s basketball came into the Pac-12 Tournament ready to rebound from its recent rough patch and prove why it had been ranked for most of the season. Instead, it was their opponent who made a point.
The Sun Devils (22-9, 11-7 Pac-12) fell 59-57 to USC in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament at KeyArena in Seattle on Friday afternoon. With the loss, ASU has now dropped six of its last eight games heading into the break before the postseason.
Each team held leads of nine or more during the game, but the other team always responded to keep the game close until the final buzzer.
ASU was down by nearly double digits late, but the Sun Devils responded to tighten up the score, much to the delight of the coaching staff.
“Our team plays hard and we put ourselves in a position to win late,” ASU assistant coach Jackie Moore said. “We did a lot of good things in the last five or so minutes of that game.”
Down by two with just seconds left, redshirt senior guard Deja Mann took a 3-pointer at the buzzer that fell just short and gave USC a victory.
Moore relayed that the team saw a lot of things it could do better over the course of the game that would have led to a different last play and result.
“There were some possessions and points that we just left out there that (the game) shouldn’t have come down to that shot,” Moore said. “USC did a good job of defending on the last play, but we definitely left some points off the board.”
Redshirt sophomore guard Katie Hempen led the way for the Sun Devils off the bench, scoring 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting.
“She works hard every day in practice and we expect her to come out and make shots,” Moore said. “She’s done a good job in the second half on conference play and we’ll continue to help her get better.”
Redshirt senior center Joy Burke, freshman forward Kelsey Moos, and redshirt senior guard Deja Mann scored 10 points each to help ASU.
The Trojans (20-12, 11-7 Pac-12) were not as balanced in their scoring, but it was effective nonetheless.
Senior forward Cassie Harberts led the Trojans with 14 points and junior guard Ariya Crook added 13 of her own to power the Trojans to the victory.
With some time off, the Sun Devils will utilize their break to recuperate and get ready for their next challenge.
“Spring break is next week so we’re going to take a couple days off, work on some individual skill and keep getting better as a team,” Moore said. “Whatever happens next, we’ll be ready for it.”
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