In the opening game of the "ASU Classic" tournament on Saturday, No. 17 ASU women's basketball dropped its matchup with VCU by a score of 57-48.
Junior center Quinn Dornstauder led the Sun Devils in scoring with 17 points to go along with five rebounds, while senior Arnecia Hawkins notched a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
"We need to work better together, know what we're looking for, and do all of the little things that we practice," Hawkins said.
Senior guard Katie Hempen fouled out late in the fourth quarter after going 0-of-8, Hempen's first scoreless game since her sophomore year.
A tightly officiated game likely contributed to the stagnant offensive production in a matchup of two high-scoring teams. Neither the Rams nor the Sun Devils were able to find their rhythm on offense with frequent whistles on both ends of the court.
ASU shot 3-of-17 in the first (18 percent), while VCU managed to go 4-of-14 from the field (29 percent).
Despite leading the rebounding margin 16 to nine, ASU trailed 9-6 after the first quarter thanks in part to unforced errors and a lack of execution on the offensive end.
Without junior forwards Sophie Brunner and Kelsey Moos in the lineup due to injury, the Sun Devils often looked lost in their offensive sets – especially with a young group out on the floor.
ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said she's not worried about her team, but there are certain things that they aren't embracing right now.
"Our normal kind of toughness, it was lacking today," Turner Thorne said. "Two players that bring that 100 percent every possession weren't on the floor, so this is good because some of those other players need to learn how to do that."
It was more of the same stagnation in the second quarter, with a slight boost in production from both VCU and ASU. The emergence of Dornstauder kept ASU within striking distance as she scored nine points and grabbed three rebounds in the first half.
VCU led 21-18 at halftime, catalyzed by a balanced contribution from all of its starters. Neither team hit a three-pointer in the first half, either, combining to go 0-12 from downtown.
The Rams opened up their lead in the third thanks to stellar play from junior Camille Calhoun, who went down with an apparent knee injury later in the quarter and was carried off of the court by trainers.
Junior guard Keira Robinson led the way for VCU, finishing with 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists while shooting 55% from the field.
It seemed that the defensive pressure started to bother the Sun Devils at the beginning of the second half, wasting precious seconds on the shot clock and throwing ASU out of its offensive flow.
After three quarters of play, VCU led 40-34.
As the fourth quarter pressed on, it seemed that the Rams had an answer for every big shot and mini-run that the Sun Devils put together.
In crunch time, Hempen's struggles were magnified by a possession in which she missed two open three-pointers that would have brought ASU within one. After an offensive rebound by Hawkins, senior guard Elisha Davis (2-of-14 from the field) missed the rim completely on a floater that gave the ball back to VCU.
After playing the foul game for the final 40 seconds, ASU failed to make the comeback and lost 57-48.
Turner Thorne said this kind of performance isn't aligned with the "Sun Devil way."
"I feel like we're trying to win with our individual offense right now," Turner Thorne said. "It's frustrating for them because they're taking turns doing it and it's not a recipe for success."
ASU will face the loser of Columbia vs. Toledo on Sunday in the third place game of the ASU Classic tournament.
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