First and third quarters propel ASU women's basketball to win over Utah

The Sun Devils are now 6-0 in Pac-12 play, winners of 12 straight.

A lack of satisfaction with a 20-point victory says a lot about the character of this ASU women's basketball team.

After blowing out lowly Colorado on Friday, the No. 10 Sun Devils (15-3, 6-0 Pac-12) extended their winning streak to 12 with an 80-60 victory over Utah on Sunday.

However, ASU players and coaches said they weren't happy with their defensive effort, despite forcing 22 turnovers. 

Senior point guard Elisha Davis said the basketball side of today's win wasn't the Sun Devils' best.

"We stayed together as a team, stayed positive with each other and we were tough," she said.

Junior forward Kelsey Moos, who had 12 points and nine rebounds on the afternoon, also felt the consistency needed to improve.

"Consistency is something that we're still working on," she said. "We're really focusing on not just having two good quarters, but four good quarters on both ends of the floor."

The first quarter was one of dominance for ASU as it scored 25 points and held the Utes (12-5, 4-2 Pac-12) to 36 percent shooting.

The Sun Devils played with a frenetic pace in the first quarter, catalyzed by the defensive effort of Davis, who forced a number of turnovers in the opening frame.

Davis pushed the ball up the court with an energy that influenced her team's offensive production, rifling passes into the post and finding ways to get her teammates open. While she finished with 13 points and 6 assists, Davis's impact stretched further than her statistics.

After one quarter of play, the Sun Devils led 25-12.

But much like in previous games this season, ASU followed one of its best overall quarters with stagnation on the offensive side. Four minutes passed in the second frame before the Sun Devils would score a point.

ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne attributed the second quarter struggles to mental fatigue on the part of her players.

"That's a very good team," Turner Thorne said of Utah. "I think that's a team that's going to be in the NCAA tournament."

Paige Crozon, a junior power forward and former Canadian teammate of ASU's Quinn Dornstauder, led the way for the Utes with a 20-point, 16-rebound performance. Senior guard Danielle Rodriguez provided a scoring punch for Utah as well with 18 of her own on 7-of-13 shooting.

Crozon and Rodriguez's performances were enough to bring the Utes within two points early in the third quarter, but a few three-pointers and scores in the post put the Sun Devils back on top by double digits.

Senior guard Peace Amukamara closed out the third quarter with a buzzer-beating three-pointer, and the Sun Devils entered the final frame with a 61-44 lead.

ASU had a combined point differential of +26 in the first and third quarters.

The fourth quarter was knotted at 16-16 until the final seconds when, as the shot clock was winding down, Davis pulled up for a three-pointer and nailed it.

Davis kept her hand held up on her follow-through, spinning around and displaying the kind of swagger that makes her such a high-level competitor. 

The buzzer sounded and ASU walked off the court with a 20-point victory in a game that it didn't even play its best basketball.

"To have such a convincing win was really fun," Turner Thorne said. "We are so deep – we can hurt you from any position at any time, and I think that was what was so much fun about this game."

The Sun Devils will go for their 13th consecutive win against rival Arizona on Friday, Jan. 22 before making the trip down to Tucson on Sunday. Tip for the opening game of the Territorial Cup is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Wells Fargo Arena.


Reach the reporter at rclarke6@asu.edu or follow @RClarkeASU on Twitter.

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