ASU women's basketball opens NCAA tournament with 73-62 win over Nebraska

Strong second half performance advances the Sun Devils to the Round of 32 Monday

No. 7 seeded ASU women's basketball opened the first round of the NCAA tournament with a 73-62 win against the 10 seeded Nebraska Cornhuskers in Austin, Texas Friday. 

The Sun Devils came into the game looking to capture five straight wins in the round of 64. Not only does the five straight appearances show the dominance ASU brings, but it has given head coach Charli Turner Thorne 13 berths in the Big Dance.

The Nebraska Cornhuskers had one of the biggest turnarounds in the nation, going from seven wins last season to 21 wins and a berth in the NCAA tournament. Their top playmaker is sophomore guard Hannah Whitish, who leads the team in points, assists, steals and 3-pointers made.

The first half of the game featured back and forth lead changes (seven) and sloppy possessions as the teams combined for 12 turnovers. The Sun Devils dominated the glass throughout the first half, having as many offensive rebounds as Nebraska did total rebounds (11). 

After 20 minutes of play, the score was tied at 27 a piece. Nebraska redshirt senior Janay Morton scored 12 points off the bench and Arizona State junior forward Kianna Ibis had eight points and five rebounds against her home team.

Coming out of the second half, the Sun Devils looked poised and confident to take the game over. The Sun Devils answered, after Whitish's two 3-pointers, with a 18-4 run and scoring coming from both starters and bench players.

In the stretch of the third quarter, the Cornhuskers only had four made field goals and saw their chances of pulling off the upset dwindle. 

Arizona State had four players in double-figures and were led by sophomore guard Robbi Ryan who finished with 16 points and four rebounds. Ibis had 14 points and eight rebounds, sophomore forward Jamie Ruden added 11 points and sophomore guard Reili Richardson added 10 points and four assists. 

Throughout the game, the telecast mentioned the importance Turner Thorne has on her three main scorers (Ibis, Ryan and redshirt junior forward Courtney Ekmark) as they combined for 37 points, shooting 39 percent from the field. 

For the Sun Devils, the importance of winning the rebound margin has been evident all year as they finished with a plus 22 margin and had 13 more offensive rebounds than the Cornhuskers. 

The fourth quarter saw Nebraska shoot desperation shots that fell in but never put pressure on the Sun Devils as the lead was too large. With 1:23 left in the game, Nebraska senior guard Jasmine Cincore was hit with an unsportsmanlike on Robbi Ryan. The foul forced Ryan to sit on the bench to ice the left side of her jaw. 

With the win over the Cornhuskers, the Sun Devils will advance to the Round of 32 to take on the winner of the No. 2 Texas Longhorns vs. No. 15 Maine Black Bears, Monday in Austin. 


Reach the reporter at sbemanue@asu.edu or follow @SebastianEman24 on Twitter. 

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