No. 19 ASU women’s basketball wins thrilling comeback against Utah

Sun Devils trailed 58-40 early in the fourth quarter but ended on a 20-0 run to win 60-58

When ASU women’s basketball coach Charli Turner Thorne sat down in the postgame interview session, she paused for a brief second before she let out a loud cheer about what had just transpired in Wells Fargo Arena.

"That is all I got to say," Turner Thorne said. "I mean, holy moly…what an unbelievable fourth quarter by this team."

ASU trailed 58-40 against Utah early in the fourth quarter, but then the seemingly impossible happened as the Sun Devils finished on a 20-0 run in the last 7:44, winning 60-58 against the Utes on Sunday afternoon in Tempe.

No. 19 ASU (18-6, 9-4 Pac-12) struggled to find a rhythm through three quarters, but senior forward Kianna Ibis said she and the team felt connected and had a flow offensively and defensively, outscoring Utah 22-3 in the final quarter. 

During the run, junior guard Robbi Ryan scored 10 points, including the game-tying three-pointer with 13 seconds left and redshirt senior forward Courtney Ekmark scored four points, including the two game-winning free throws as she was fouled on a three-pointer with under a second left in the game. 

"We are speechless," Ekmark said following the comeback victory. "Going into the fourth quarter we said, 'This is not over.' You see this all the time, people coming back from these leads. We all believed."

When Utah freshman forward Andrea Torres hit a three-pointer with 8:08 left to give Utah (18-7, 7-7 Pac-12) a 58-40 advantage, things looked bleak for the Sun Devils. 

However, Ibis, who finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, and her teammates never thought this game would end in a loss. As Utah started to try to work clock, she said that worked in the Sun Devils' advantage.

"It is crazy," Ibis said. "When we were down, Charli asked us, 'Are we going to win this?' And we all looked at each other like, 'Yeah, we are going to win this.'"

In the postgame interview session, Turner Thorne also added that something felt different when ASU took the court for the fourth quarter. She knew that a comeback was possible.

"At the start of the fourth quarter, I felt it," Turner Thorne said. "They all started feeling each other like, 'No, we are doing this.' I said, 'This is going to be an amazing story. This is going to be an incredible comeback.'"

Turner Thorne echoed Ibis, saying that things changed when ASU started to play more cohesively and with an improved defensive effort and sense of urgency. 

Turner Thorne said that after her team committed several "silly plays," which allowed senior forward Megan Huff and Utah to build a lead, she was relieved when redshirt freshman guard Dru Gylten fouled Ekmark on her last-second three-point attempt.

Ryan didn’t make a basket until the fourth quarter, but she made two big-time fearless three-pointers. After Ekmark missed a three-pointer, senior center Charnea Johnson-Chapman grabbed the rebound and passed Ryan the ball. 

"I was open," Ryan said. "I just wanted to win, so I was just thinking, 'This is going to go in.' So I shot it and it went in."

Although junior guard Reili Richardson didn’t score, Turner Thorne said that she made probably the most important plays of the game.

After Ryan tied the game, Utah had a chance to score, but Richardson took a charge on the baseline with 1.9 seconds left, which gave ASU its chance to win. In the earlier meeting this season, Richardson hit a game-winning bank shot at the buzzer to beat Utah, who was undefeated at the time.

"She is a winner," Turner Thorne said.

Turner Thorne added that she knows ASU has to continue to improve, but she said every win is special. While she said she doesn’t necessarily have an all-time favorite win, this is one that she said she will definitely remember.

Ibis was able to say this was the craziest win in her basketball career.

"This is pretty big win for us to be able to come together to make up all those points and then be able to win in the end," Ibis said.


Reach the reporter at nahiatt@asu.edu or follow @NATE_HIATT on Twitter.

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