ASU women's basketball's point guards are vital to the team's success

Both players rank in the top 50 in the nation in assist-to-turnover margin

Guard play has been a big factor in the No. 25 ASU women’s basketball team's success this year. 

Since the Sun Devils are a team with no senior leadership and a young backcourt, players have had to step up earlier than expected. Two guards, who have been in the spotlight, are sophomore guards Reili Richardson and Kiara Russell. 

The protection of the ball has been phenomenal, as the Sun Devils rank No. 16 in the country with a 1.37 ratio, according to the NCAA statistics. 

As a sophomore, Richardson continues to be a facilitator for the team. She is currently ranked 5th in the country with 119 assists to 35 turnovers.

“I'm getting in the gym before practice working on my shot and (head coach Charli Turner Thorne) just wants me to make open shots," Richardson said.

In the last few games, Richardson has become especially aggressive on fast breaks to open the floor for herself.

“I think she's been up and down with (shooting) this year,” Turner Thorne said. “She wants to be more aggressive to score – she knows she’s a good scorer, and I think she gets too focused on running the team.”

Richardson may be shooting only 33.8 percent from the field, but her knack as a point guard has kept opposing defenses weary of what she does with the ball. 

“If we need a basket, I know who our scorers are,” Richardson said. “I know when I can take my man off the dribble.”

Her teammate and roommate Russell ranks 33rd in the country with 75 assists to 30 turnovers.

Russell and Richardson arrived at ASU in the same recruiting class for the same position, but Russell said there is no competitive behavior between them.

Neither player is focused on who plays more – they just want to win games.

“We just have a really great relationship with each other,” Russell said. “We don't really care who starts or finishes the games. We are just here for each other.”

Turner Thorne said the two true point guards have been a great help this season.

“They are both really unselfish players (and) good playmakers,” Turner Thorne said. “I think their ability to do this in their second season (not four seasons) and initiate the offense and play more swiftly is a real key to our success this year." 

While Richardson and Russell both are point guards, Turner Thorne said she likes playing a two-point guard backcourt because they balance each other out. 

“It's not either/or, we absolutely play them together, and I think they complement each other,” Turner Thorne said.

Reach the reporter at or follow @SebastianEman24 on Twitter. 

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