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ASU women's basketball returns home, runs away from Boston University

Following a 1-2 stint on the road, the Sun Devils came back to Tempe and pulled away to down the Terriers.

ASU freshman guard Kiara Russell (4) goes up for a tough layup in traffic during the second half of a women's basketball game against the Boston University Terriers in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. ASU won 71-42, putting them at 4-2 on the season.
ASU freshman guard Kiara Russell (4) goes up for a tough layup in traffic during the second half of a women's basketball game against the Boston University Terriers in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. ASU won 71-42, putting them at 4-2 on the season.

As ASU women's basketball can recently attest, there's no place like home, especially for a team like the Sun Devils, who haven't taken a regular season loss on their home floor for nearly a year.

After a difficult two-week, three-game stretch away from such a fortress that featured double-digit losses to Marquette and Maryland and knocked them out of the top 25, the Sun Devils finally came back to the desert for their first home game since November 15.

And although its opening quarter of play was less than stellar, ASU picked up another victory in front of the home crowd, as they took down the visiting Boston University Terriers by a final score of 71-42 Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena. The win kicked off the weekend's ASU Classic – a two-day tournament featuring ASU, Boston, Long Beach State and Florida. 

"We're definitely a work in progress," senior forward Quinn Dornstauder said. "It's a win, and we'll take any win of course, but there's a lot to get better at."

Despite scoring the game's first six points, the Sun Devils didn't storm out of the gates the way they have in their prior home wins – a 16-0 run started ASU's drubbing of San Jose State. That lead was quickly cut to two, but was never relinquished, as six different scorers helped the home team lead 18-12 after one. 

In the early second quarter, the home team continued to struggle to find its rhythm and cohesiveness on offense, frequently finding themselves in late shot clock situations as they took a while to find a way to consistently penetrate the Terriers' 1-2-2 zone defense. 

"We are too much on top of each other," head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "Our posts are not staying below the backboard and opening. It's a 1-2-2 zone and the middle should be an ocean, and it wasn't, because we're up there posting up where we wanted our guards gapping in, and we wanted to look for the mid-to-low."

A frenetic pace of defense, however, made up for ASU's ineffectiveness in the half-court offense, as a fast break finish by Dornstuader off a steal by freshman guard Robbi Ryan opened up the Sun Devils' largest lead to that point at 30-17.

ASU ended up only allowing two made field goals by BU, capping off a half in which they outscored the Terriers 16-5 with a four-point play by sophomore guard Sabrina Haines to lead 36-19 at halftime.

Senior forward Sophie Brunner led the charge on both sides of the ball in the first half, entering the break with a game-high 10 points, including two key steal-and-score layups. 

ASU scored 32 points off of 22 total turnovers in the win and held the Terriers to 18-of-42 shooting from the field. 

"I think even in the first half we did generate a lot of offense off of our defense," Turner Thorne said. "We always talk about how anybody can play for 20 minutes, it's that second 20 minutes that really matter. I do think that we came out really stronger in the third quarter and that kind of put them away."

"We focus on our defense," Haines added. "Our defense creates our offense."

Feeding the likes of Dornstauder and Brunner, two of the team's four senior forwards, was a point of emphasis for Turner Thorne that hadn't been executed in recent games. 

The two had half of the Sun Devils' first half points and ended up combining for 21 points, leading the team with 11 and 10 respectively. Dornstauder also snatched five rebounds. Haines added 11 points and five assists. 

"(The senior posts) weren't (relentless) on either end of the floor to start the season," Turner Thorne said, whose team scored 38 of its points from inside the paint. "They were playing and really hadn't embraced how much they had to do with this young team and I think they have embraced it now."

The Sun Devils led 51-30 at the end of the third quarter and opened the fourth on an 8-0 run to put the game on ice. 

Following the victory, ASU will have a quick turnaround, moving on to the weekend's championship game against the winner of Florida and Long Beach State Sunday at 2 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.

"I think it's important to come back out and just play our hardest no matter what," Dornstauder said. "No matter who it is, no matter how we've played before, every game is a big game."

Related Links:

ASU women's basketball freshmen quintet making immediate impact

Grad-transfer Sara Hattis proving perfect fit for ASU women's basketball


Reach the reporter at jeff.griffith21@asu.edu or follow @Jeff_Griffith21 on Twitter.

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