Due to injuries, ASU women's basketball players are logging more minutes

A thin roster and injuries have left some players playing larger roles for the team

With junior guard Sabrina Haines tearing her ACL in early December, the ASU women’s basketball roster has continued to grow thin, which has prompted a change in head coach Charli Turner Thorne's rotation style. 

The young roster has racked up quality playing time, especially for junior guard Courtney Ekmark and sophomore guards Robbi Ryan and Reili Richardson, who have combined for 1,631 minutes of playing time in 20 games.

Turner Thorne said the rotation of her lineup has kept the Sun Devils ready to compete in every game.

“For the long haul, we have a lot of season left, and right now, those guys (Ekmark, Ryan and Richardson) are logging a ton of minutes,” Turner Thorne said.

Ekmark is currently playing in her first collegiate season since transferring from the University of Connecticut in June of 2016. She has now solidified herself as a player that Turner Thorne can rely on, especially because there is no senior leadership on the team.

“The thing about Courtney is she is going to go hard every possession,” Turner Thorne said. “That’s an amazing thing, from a coach's standpoint.”

Ekmark has become more comfortable as the season has progressed. She tied Briann January’s school record with seven made three-pointers in a game. Ekmark is averaging 9.5 points per game, 4.6 rebounds and is shooting 31 percent from downtown.

“I think just over time, being back out on the court and after sitting out a year, I just had to get back into it,” Ekmark said. “Now it's getting into the fun part … of enjoying these Pac-12 games.”

Ekmark agreed with Turner Thorne about what she brings to the team.

“I try to bring energy every day and do whatever the team needs me to do,” Ekmark said. “I think my shooting can really help my teammates because (the defense) will have to guard me, and that will space the floor and open some things up for them.”

Another player who Turner Thorne mentioned throughout the season was sophomore forward Jamie Ruden, who nursed a back injury over the summer and now has played a strong role coming off the bench. 

“She’s (Ruden) playing the four or five spot, and people have to find her on the perimeter,” Turner Thorne said. “She’s just a really hard guard and just a tremendous shooter. I’m just so happy for her.”

Ruden has played in 18 games, and her role off the bench has continued to grow as the season has progressed. Ruden is averaging 9.8 points per game, and she's shooting 46.5 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from three-point range. 

“Our coaches do a really good job of preparing us for every game,” Ruden said. “The more time I spend and prepare with them and watch film, that's made me more comfortable and getting more experience playing.”

Ruden added onto Turner Thorne’s comments about what she brings to the team as a stretch four.

“Some posts in the conference aren't as comfortable guarding on the perimeter,” Ruden said. “My main job is to space the floor and kind of draw the defense out and get my teammates open too.” 

With 10 games left in conference play and a thinning Sun Devil roster, players like Ekmark and Ruden have continued to improve every game. 

Next, Stanford will host ASU on Friday, Jan. 26 at 8:00 p.m. MST at the Maples Pavilion. 

Reach the reporter at sbemanue@asu.edu or follow @SebastianEman24 on Twitter. 

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