No. 24 ASU uses three-ball to coast past Cal 77-54

The Sun Devils shot 10-17 from three

No. 24 ASU fought off a sluggish start to cruise past Cal 77-54 on Friday night in Tempe. 

The first quarter on Friday was one of the sloppiest quarters the Sun Devils (20-9, 10-7 Pac-12) have played all season. Nine turnovers committed by ASU had it up just 14-12 against the last place team in the Pac-12 after the first quarter.

"With the emotions of senior weekend, that can make us a little bit tense," senior forward Jamie Ruden said. "So we just had to relax a little bit and just stay connected."

After that early game rust, ASU improved its execution, as it only turned the ball over three times in the second quarter. 

The Sun Devils then turned up the intensity on defense to force the Golden Bears (10-18, 2-15) into nine second quarter turnovers, as a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Ruden pushed their advantage to 35-23 at the end of the half.

After Ruden's three, ASU didn't look back. 

The Sun Devil lead reached 20 toward the end of the third quarter, and they remained in control the rest of the way.

Ruden, freshman forward Eboni Walker and sophomore guard Taya Hanson were all key contributors to ASU's bench turning in perhaps its best performance of the year, as it combined for 45 points.

Ruden scored a season-high 18 points on 7-11 from the field and 4-5 from beyond the arc. Walker notched her first career double-double, finishing with 11 points and 13 rebounds, while Hanson added nine points.

Hanson noted how important it was to help take some of that senior weekend pressure off of the five seniors that have contributed so much to the team this year.

"The seniors have just given everything to us, and they've left an incredible legacy here," Hanson said. "We wanted to bring that energy for them and show them that we are ready and we're doing this for you guys."

Senior guard Reili Richardson became the all-time leader in assists in ASU history across women's and men's basketball, passing former men's player and current Rice University video coordinator Derek Glasser.

Following the game, ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne emphasized how important bench production is to the success of her team.

"We are at our best when our bench really contributes," Turner Thorne said. "Hopefully we can sustain this the rest of the season going into March, the bench coming in and contributing on both ends of the floor."

This won't be the final time ASU plays Cal, as the No. 5 seed Sun Devils will face the No. 12 seed Golden Bears in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament on Mar. 5 at 12:30 p.m. MST.

Turner Thorne noted that familiarity with their opponent could help the team in its opener in Las Vegas.

"I think it's good for our team that we played them. I know we will be better against their press," Turner Thorne said. "I know we won't start as soft as we did." 

Despite already being locked into seeding for the Pac-12 Tournament, ASU will get a chance to significantly improve its resume against No. 4 Stanford on March 1 at 12 p.m. MST in the regular season finale.

Correction: A previous version of the story incorrectly stated the title of Derek Glasser. The story has been updated to reflect this change.


Reach the reporter at ltochter@asu.edu and follow @Leo_Toch on Twitter.

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