ASU women's basketball wins ASU Classic Championship against Tulsa

Sun Devils are now 5-2 this season

Although ASU didn’t expect to play against Tulsa on Sunday in the ASU Classic Championship, the Sun Devils fought hard and ultimately found their rhythm to beat the Golden Hurricane, 70-52 and win the championship.

After the game, Charli Turner Thorne had high praise for the Golden Hurricane.

“We had to battle,” Turner Thorne said. "The last couple of games have been fairly easy, and I thought that was a test for us (against) a team that was tough and feisty and was going to work hard every possession.”

No. 19 ASU (5-2) didn’t start as expected, and the Golden Hurricane took advantage and jumped out to an early lead. 

Despite that, the Sun Devils fought back to take a slight lead against Tulsa (5-4) into the second quarter. Then, ASU amped up the intensity as it started to turn defense into offense.

Turner Thorne, in her on-court interview before halftime, said ASU missed many close opportunities to score, but during the second quarter the Sun Devils started to play their normal style. 

“I yelled at them,” Turner Thorne said. "I (said), ‘People, do you believe now?’ We were playing soft, and we were letting them play to their strengths, letting the penetrator penetrate and letting the shooter shoot... (Then) we got more locked in after we saw them playing to their strengths. That is a sign of a great team. I think this team does evaluate and adjust.”

In the third quarter, ASU started on a lengthy scoring run to take a 13-point lead. 

With tenacious defense and transition offense, the Sun Devils cruised through the second half, increasing the lead to as much as 18 points. 

With both the Sun Devils and Tulsa having played in games on Saturday in Tempe, as well, this was a quick turnaround. However, the game plan stayed consistent for ASU.

The Sun Devils relied mostly on its depth and hard work offensively and defensively, a thing it can control, to win. Redshirt senior forward Courtney Ekmark said she believes the team can improve in that facet, though, and Turner Thorne agrees that ASU has aspects to clean up as conference play approaches.

“It is definitely one of our focuses, now, to be that team that you are going to struggle against us for 40-full minutes,” Ekmark said. “We are going to make you work every second.”

ASU played with a balanced scoring attack. Junior guard Robbi Ryan and Ekmark each finished with 12 points. Ekmark and junior guard Reili Richardson, who finished with seven assists and one turnover, made All-Tournament Team, and senior forward Kianna Ibis led the way to win MVP.

Ibis finished with a game-high 14 points and eight rebounds, but she credits her teammates for her performance, especially Richardson.

“I just love how Reili is such a great passer, and actually all of my teammates are really great passers,” Ibis said. “They are always looking for me. I just want to give a shout out to them.”

Reach the reporter at or follow @NATE_HIATT on Twitter.

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