After a somewhat lackluster performance in the opening half of play, No. 19 ASU women's basketball used a dominant second-half effort to defeat Washington State University, 68-49, Friday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena.
Senior forward Sophie Brunner led the way for the Sun Devils with 20 points and 15 rebounds, leaving her coach quite impressed following the 19-point victory.
"How about Sophie Brunner? I mean just an All-American performance," ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "She just led us so amazingly with her effort."
It was Brunner's fourth double-double of the season, and also marked her career-high in rebounds.
"She does what she needs to do," Turner Thorne said. "All I kept doing in the timeout is say 'Can somebody please rebound like Sophie? Can we step up like Sophie?"
Late in the first quarter, WSU freshman guard Cameron Fernandez was injured on a physical play with ASU senior center Quinn Dornstauder, who drove the ball into the paint while making contact with Fernandez. A charge was called on the play.
Fernandez was down for quite some time before a medical staff showed up to take her to a local hospital for further evaluation.
"Nobody's happy to be in a play like that," Dornstauder said. "Honestly I'm not too sure what even happened. All I can say is that I just hope the best for her and I really hope she makes a quick recovery."
After a hefty delay in action, both teams competed hard to end the second quarter as the game remained close. When the first-half buzzer sounded, ASU went into the lockerroom with a one-point lead at 31-30.
Brunner attributed the slow first half to a lack of effort on the defensive end of the floor.
"I think we just weren't getting it done on the defensive end," Brunner said. "Our defense really dictates how we do on offense. Once we started getting stops on defense, started boxing out, getting rebounds, it really united our offense."
In the second half, ASU opened the flood gates by getting physical, and getting to the free-throw line in the process. The Sun Devils went to the line 31 times in the game, making 21 of those attempts
"I thought we had a great second half," Turner Thorne said. "Just came out and worked harder. I thought we were a little soft in the first half."
The Sun Devils outscored the Cougars 18-12 in the third quarter, and then stepped on the gas in the fourth, outscoring WSU 19-7.
Other than the dominant all-around performance from Brunner, and Dornstauder chipping in 11 points of her own, the quiet showing that spoke volumes in the game came from freshman guard Reili Richardson.
Richardson finished with 15 points, three assists and no turnovers, which is always a positive out of your point guard who handles the ball majority of the time.
"I feel like sometimes we are asking her to do too much, but she just keeps continuing to be able to do it," Turner Thorne said. "She's just as poised as any player I've ever coached and she's in her first season."
The Sun Devils are on a four-game win streak heading into a highly anticipated match-up Sunday against the No. 8 Washington Huskies, who bring with them the nation's leading scorer in senior guard Kelsey Plum. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. in Tempe.
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