ASU women's basketball secures win against Air Force in season opener

Despite Robbi Ryan's absence, ASU utilized a balanced offensive attack Tuesday night

Led by its high-octane offense, the No. 18 ASU women's basketball team comfortably defeated Air Force 87-56 Tuesday night in Tempe. 

The Sun Devils got out in front early and never looked back in their first game of the 2019-20 season. Offensively, the team was led by senior forward/center Jamie Ruden, who scored a team-high 14 points, and sophomore forward Jayde Van Hyfte chipped in with 12.

With the help of its backcourt, ASU pushed the ball from the opening tip, getting a number of easy baskets in transition. The team outscored Air Force 22-6 in fast-break points.

ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said tonight’s game served as a template for how the team wants to get out and run this year.

“We want to wear teams down," she said. "…The transition game should be kicking in during the third quarter or fourth quarter. The guards need to rebound more this year, and if your guards rebound then you play faster.”

The Sun Devils displayed their overall roster depth Tuesday night as every active player on the roster scored in the game. 

Particularly, a couple of newcomers showed out in their first game in maroon and gold. 

In her collegiate debut, freshman guard Sara Bejedi made a great first impression. She scored 12 points on 5-9 shooting and dished out three assists. After the game, Bejedi said the experience was "surreal."

“Last year I was watching Pac-12 on my TV, and now I’m actually here,” she said. “I was definitely nervous, but I’m living the dream.”

USC transfer and senior forward Ja’Tavia Tapley also showed what she can add to the group this season, finishing the night with 11 points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes of action.

However, Tapley did more than stuff the stat sheet. Although knew to the team, she displayed her impressive athletic ability and toughness, which Turner Thorne noted after the game.

“She’s definitely still getting acclimated to Sun Devil basketball,” Turner Thorne said. “She’s the quickest 6'3" kid I’ve ever coached.”

Senior guard Robbi Ryan sat out Tuesday's game with a foot injury but should return in ASU’s next game, according to Turner Thorne. Last year, Ryan started every game for the Sun Devils and averaged 7.2 points and 1.8 assists per game.

ASU will look to improve to 2-0 against Army Sunday, Nov. 10 at 5:00 p.m. MST in Tempe.

Reach the reporter at and follow @Leo_Toch on Twitter.

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