ASU women's basketball loses to Oregon State, suffers second defeat of season

Redshirt junior Katie Hempen defends ASU’s basket as the team faces No. 9 Oregon State on Jan 25, 2015. (Kat Simonovic/ The State Press) Redshirt junior Katie Hempen defends ASU’s basket as the team faces No. 9 Oregon State on Jan 25, 2015. (Kat Simonovic/ The State Press)

No. 9 Oregon State proved that they are the team to beat in the Pac-12, defeating the No 13 ASU women's basketball team 68-57.

“For some reason we were really struggling to play together today on offense,” ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “We were just… not outwardly focused.”

OSU’s long defenders forced ASU to change its offensive flow. The team typically focuses on two types of offensive attack.

The first is posting up. A big, normally either sophomore forward Sophie Brunner or sophomore center Quinn Dornstauder, jostles for position to receive passes. OSU junior center Ruth Hamblin, standing at 6-foot-6, prevented this from happening as effectively.

The second is a driving attack centered around an attacking guard, typically junior guard Elisha Davis. She penetrates the paint and then finds a player to kick it out to on the three-point line or a bounce pass through a defender to an open player at the rim.

The OSU defense, anchored by Hamblin with a wingspan stretching through the entire key, got into tiny passing lanes that are normally open. In addition, the players have strong levels of anticipation and jumped into any open areas.

Turner Thorne said the team's game plan didn’t change, but Hamblin still affected the way they played. Davis said she was more hesitant driving the paint.

“I wasn’t aggressive enough to make them play me, to make the post come out of the paint or to make the other players to play me to get my teammates the ball,” she said. “I need to be more aggressive.”

She had six turnovers in the game, four of which came in the first half. ASU had 13 total.

“(Davis) had one great lane-line pass and then she kind of kept trying to do it,” Turner Thorne said. “(The players) just tried too hard to make things happen instead of letting things happen.”

OSU dominated ASU for the first five minutes of the second half, essentially closing the door when the Beavers went up 45-25 with 15:44 remaining.

That was a defining turn of events, but ASU suffered a wound at the end of the first half. In the final 7:21, the Sun Devils scored only three points. What had been a small lead turned into a five-point halftime deficit.

When OSU came out with a stronger game plan in the second, it took ASU too long to recover. Additionally, Brunner got into foul trouble and eventually fouled out. Turner Thorne received a technical foul while arguing a call and said that Brunner’s arm was being hooked on more than one foul called against her.

ASU’s troubles weren’t centered around Brunner, though. OSU’s game became more effective. Hamblin was more involved in the offense, and OSU found a way to meddle with ASU’s double teams. At the beginning of the game, the person defending OSU’s ball handler would force the pass to be a lob. A defender would then rotate over to help with Hamblin.

One would stay on the rim side and one would attack the passing lane. It worked well — she was held to only four first-half points.

In the second, when a second defender would inch toward Hamblin, the ball handler would take notice. She would drive and then pass the ball cross-court to an open shooter near the arch.

The primary ball handlers were sophomore Sydney Wiese and junior Jamie Weisner. Wiese had seven points and six assists, and Weisner led OSU with 21 points.

“(Weisner) wants to drive left and middle and we let her play to her strengths,” Turner Thorne said.

ASU’s leading scorer was redshirt junior guard Katie Hempen. She came into the game hot, hitting five points quickly, and then kept the game close in the final minutes. She finished 6-for-8 from the 3-point line and had 22 points, career highs in both.

“I’m very thankful for the screeners,” she said. “(For) the last five, six minutes of the game, we had great screens and they got me open and then… I just keep shooting no matter what. Miss or make, it’s probably going up.”

ASU and OSU were actually pretty even-matched for most of the second half, and ASU outplayed the Beavers during parts of it. After falling behind 20, ASU went on a 9-4 run. They continued playing with intensity while OSU let off the pedal.

“That’s what Sun Devils do,” Hempen said. “We don’t give up until the last buzzer.”

ASU had a chance to cut the lead in half with about four minutes remaining. In transition, an open shot from junior guard Peace Amukamara bounced off the rim. On the ensuing OSU possession, the Beavers grabbed an offensive rebound and then hit a three.

With 2:50 remaining, ASU got a five-point play. Moos was fouled while setting a screen for Hempen. The referee ruled that Hempen was in the shooting motion when the foul occurred, so her 3-pointer counted and Moos got two free throws.

Weisner quieted the crowd on the next possession with a three of her own and OSU eventually got the lead back up to 18. ASU found its legs in the final minute of the game, with Hempen hitting two more threes, and cut the deficit to a respectable 11 points.

“I’m actually partly glad that this game happened,” Hempen said. “It’s good that we see what we need to do when we’re in that type of position and now we know what to do.”

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