There are no easy games in the Pac-12 women's basketball conference this season, even on senior day.
The ASU women's basketball team found this out the hard way on Sunday, falling to No. 15 University of California Los Angeles 55-52 at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe.
"We're still writing our story," head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "We're hoping to have a great March. Regardless of what happens this March, this group's impact from a success standpoint is up there in our record books. But even more importantly, they are just phenomenal young women. It's who they are.
"We're going to miss them a lot," a choked up Turner Thorne added of her seniors.
THANK YOU, SENIORS! pic.twitter.com/JmQOdOT4xJ— Sun Devil WBB (@SunDevilWBB) February 26, 2017
Re-directing from the emotions of senior day, Sunday's game could be described as a dog fight from start to finish. Both teams didn't give an inch on both ends of the floor as the intensity of the game increased as time dwindled down.
ASU controlled the tempo for most of the game, but a late Bruins run spoiled the day for the four Sun Devil seniors.
"We were ahead most of the game," senior forward Sophie Brunner said. "Then they made that run in the end and that was tough. At the end of the game we had a one possession game and just couldn't finish it."
Brunner finished with a game-high 20 points and moved into seventh place all-time on ASU's scoring list.
ASU jumped out to a fast start with a 6-0 run, but as happened for most of the day, UCLA countered with a run of its own -- a 7-0 spurt.
UCLA looked scary from 3-point range in the first quarter, knocking down two lead-changing deep balls to cease the Sun Devil momentum.
But ASU did go into the half on a high note, in part due to an 11-0 run in the second quarter to grab the lead. At half, the Sun Devils held a 32-27 lead.
"I think the energy was great," senior center Quinn Dornstauder said. "It ended up being a really fun game and the crowd was into it and stuff."
Despite the strong end to the first half, ASU came out of the locker room cold. The team scored just 20 points in the entire second half, and UCLA took advantage.
The game was won in the dwindling minutes from the all-important free-throw line. UCLA shot considerably better from the charity-stripe late in the game.
"These games, up to now, have gotten away from us a little bit," Turner Thorne said. "Obviously that game was right there to be taken. Really it was probably more us, just make your free-throws and don't foul down the stretch, things like that."
ASU didn't have a choice after they fouled junior Jordin Canada to send her to the line for two shots. She made both to tie the game at 52, and a shot-clock violation from ASU turned the ball back over to the Bruins on the ensuing possession.
The final five points from UCLA all came from the free-throw line, with Canada hitting four of those five and redshirt senior Nicole Kornet notching the other. The Bruins shot 83 percent from the stripe on 18 attempts.
ASU went two-for-four on free-throws in the final minutes and 11-for-20 for the game. But the loss didn't change the program's impact on the Sun Devil seniors.
"Over the last four years it's been an absolutely amazing experience for me," Dornstauder said. "I think the person that I walked in as is a totally different person than the person I will be walking out as. I still have another month so don't want to cut things to short right now, but an absolutely amazing experience."