Basketball is known as a game of runs.
The ASU women’s basketball team has also become quite used to clawing back from second-half deficits and turning them into games that come down to the wire.
But sometimes there are just too many holes to crawl out of.
The Sun Devils rallied back from a pair of double-digit deficits but were unable to completely finish the deal, as they dropped a crucial 63-59 contest to UCLA Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.
“[The game was] right there to take, and we just kind of shot ourselves in the foot,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said in her postgame radio interview. “I look at these games, and if we would just play to our strengths and take care of the basketball — which we are preaching and practicing ad nauseam — you’re winning these games fairly easily.”
After falling behind by as many as 12 points in the second half, the Sun Devils (17-11, 9-8 Pac-10) still had the opportunity to tie or pull off a dramatic win in the final seconds.
Following an old-fashioned 3-point play by UCLA sophomore forward Jasmine Dixon that gave the Bruins (21-7, 14-3 Pac-10) a comfortable 60-54 lead with 30 seconds to play, ASU closed the gap in the blink of an eye.
A 3-point play the old-fashioned way by ASU junior forward Becca Tobin cut UCLA’s advantage in half, and after a free throw by UCLA sophomore guard Rebekah Gardner, a jumper by ASU senior Danielle Orsillo made the score 61-59 with just six seconds to go.
UCLA’s ensuing inbounds pass then went out of bounds, giving ASU a quick chance to complete the comeback, but the ball was stripped from Orsillo on a shot attempt and UCLA senior guard Erica Tukiainen hit a pair of free throws to ice the game.
“It would have been nice if we had a timeout,” Turner Thorne said. “[In] these early slow starts I have to burn a timeout, and I ran out. It would have been great to be able to set something up at the end, and obviously we didn’t, and we didn’t execute real well. “
While the game featured a thrilling finish, the start couldn’t have been much worse for ASU.
The Sun Devils missed their first 12 shots to fall behind 14-1 and did not connect from the field until a layup by freshman forward Joy Burke at the 10:35 mark finally broke the offensive drought.
That shot sparked a 7-0 run that cut the Bruins’ lead to 14-8 with 9:30 left before the break, and the Sun Devils made another push when they closed the half on a 15-7 run to go into the locker room tied 23-23.
ASU then dug itself another hole to start the second half when an old-fashioned 3-point play by UCLA’s Dixon ignited a 13-0 run that gave the Bruins a 38-36 with 15:50 to play.
“Just the lulls [are] the things that this young team has to stop,” Turner Thorne said. “[We have to] learn how to just work hard every possession, and they’ll be amazed at how much fun it is to beat people by 15 and 20 points. But we’re not doing that, so we don’t deserve that yet.”
A pair of 3-pointers by ASU sophomore guard Alex Earl later closed the gap to 48-46 with 5:55 remaining, but the Bruins responded with an 8-1 run to bump that lead back up to 56-47 with 2:30 to play.
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