Sabrina Haines' newfound confidence pays dividends for ASU women's basketball

The sharpshooting sophomore has the bottom of the basket and a bright future in her crosshairs

In the final minute of her team's Feb. 5 bout with Oregon, ASU women's basketball sophomore guard Sabrina Haines found herself, unexpectedly, with the ball in her hands. 

With a four-point lead, senior forward Sophie Brunner, the team's go-to scorer in such situations, had fallen to the court a few steps in front of her, just tenths of a second after getting rid of the ball and finding Haines open on the wing.

Haines, a known shooter, set her feet, locked in and fired away, just as she does on the hundreds of shots she takes every day at practice.

A few seconds and mid-air revolutions of a basketball later — money. 

Then, bedlam, and for good reason.

For Haines, that shot meant more than just a seven-point lead in a key late-season game against Oregon.

It marked the end — even if just for a day — of her own season-long shooting struggles, and her team's five-game losing streak at a key point in the season.

"Oh my gosh, yes," Haines said of the relief brought by her clutch shot with a laugh. "I've been building that up for forever. It was just like an inner frustration within myself because stuff was not working. I knew I could help my team in that way. Finally, I got something going, and I just let it all out. It was just all that excitement, all that happiness, it just came out."

In that game, Haines set her season-high in scoring with 14 points on four-of-five three-point shooting. It was just her second double-digit game of the year, with the first coming on Dec. 3 against Boston University.

Just five days later, she broke that season-high with 17 points in a tight win over Washington State, in which she hit two more triples. 

Things were starting to work for the sophomore, and it felt fantastic. 

"Yes, just being confident to shoot it and knowing my teammates have my back as far as rebounds," Haines said of the carry-over to the win at Washington State. "My coaches, they run plays for us to be successful. Just keep that confidence going."

Haines, though she is just in her second year with the ASU program, has had to fill a leadership role in the backcourt this season because the rest of the Sun Devils' guards who see playing time — Reili Richardson, Robbi Ryan, Kiara Russell and Sydney Goodson — are all freshmen.

One of those freshman, Russell, spoke to the kind of role Haines has played as a backcourt leader throughout this long season.  

"She's a competitor, she loves to compete," Russell said. "I love her aggressiveness. She's a great leader on and off court. She took the freshmen in and guided us through the hard times."

For Haines, the transition into a new position this season hasn't exactly been easy, but she has learned from those above her this year and last, as she's developed into one of the more vocal leaders on the team.

Being able to learn from the leadership of five seniors last season and four this season, Haines said she's had several role models to emulate. 

"Last year's team, full of seniors and I'm just a little freshman, so I definitely learned a lot and just wanted to follow what they did," Haines said. "It's definitely a lot different as far as this year because our team is so young."

Head coach Charli Turner Thorne said she has seen a few parallels between Haines and senior forward Kelsey Moos, who Turner Thorne has often called this year's emotional leader. 

On the court as well, Haines shows shades of Moos' style of play, making the hustle plays and "glue" plays that don't show up in the stat sheet but provide a key spark.

"I certainly see her evolving and growing and becoming that much more of a role model for the younger kids coming in," Turner Thorne said. "I do, I see her developing. I do think she and Kelsey have some similarities, they're both very smart basketball players. If there's something to know, Kelsey knows it, and (Haines) is the next person."

While she may have a bright future as a leader in the years to come, the 5-foot-10-inch Phoenix-native's play over the last few games is a sight for sore eyes.

But with just a few weeks left in the season, Haines certainly isn't satisfied.

"I think it's definitely really big," she said of her newfound confidence. "This is crunch time, this is how we get placed in March, and this is where we want to play our best basketball. If I can help my team by playing the best basketball ... that's the ultimate goal. We want to make a run in March."


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

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