Sidebar: Sunday's game against Cal was the gritty win ASU women's basketball needed

No. 19 ASU beat No. 24 Cal in the team's first victory over a ranked opponent this season

Sunday’s top-25 Pac-12 showdown in Tempe between ASU women's basketball and Cal proved to be the gritty win against a ranked opponent that the Sun Devils have been searching for this season.  

Both teams suffered a tough loss just 48 hours prior and the desperation to get back in the win column was apparent, as both teams traded lead changes all night. 

But it was not pretty down the stretch.

The Sun Devils entered the fourth quarter with a four-point lead. In that final frame, they connected on only two field goal attempts, and none in the last seven minutes and two seconds of the game. However, they managed to hold on late thanks to timely free-throw shooting and crucial defensive stops.

Senior forward Kianna Ibis, who poured in 26 points on 9-for-12 shooting from the field and 4-for-4 on three-point shots, knocked down two free throws to tie the game before junior guard Reili Richardson hit a go-ahead free throw to give the Sun Devils a one-point lead with under five seconds to go.  

On their final possession, the Golden Bears could not capitalize on their two cracks at the game-winning basket, giving ASU a 62-61 victory.

The ASU team's first win against a top-25 team this season comes in the midst of a stretch of four straight ranked conference opponents. The latest came in a crushing loss to No. 6 Stanford on Friday, which was ASU's third loss to a team ranked in the top-six overall. However, the Sun Devils lost those games by an average of five points, so they were bound to break through sooner or later. 

Two of those losses came out of conference to Baylor and Louisville back in November.

Five teams in the Pac-12, including ASU, are currently ranked in the top-25. No. 5 Oregon and No. 10 Oregon State are also in that group and they are next on ASU's schedule. Both teams have a combined record of 29-3 this season.

It will certainly be tough sledding in the final two months of the regular season for the Sun Devils, but if Sunday was any indication, they are capable of knocking off the elite teams in the Pac-12.     


​Reach the reporter at kmgianco@asu.edu and follow @Kaleb_Mart on Twitter.

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