ASU women's basketball rides hot first-half shooting, hangs on to defeat Saint Mary's

A 41-point first half propelled the Sun Devils to their third straight win

ASU women's basketball shot 19 of 35 in the first half, propelling the team to a 62-53 victory over Saint Mary's on Monday afternoon in Tempe.

The victory, which moved the team to 3-0, was a tale of two halves.

In the first half, the Sun Devil offense was humming, consistently producing good looks in transition and hitting their outside shots.

"We ran well in the first half. We had good ball movement and found our driving lanes," ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "I thought we made better decisions. We didn't have as many silly turnovers, which helped."

However, the Sun Devils' offense sputtered in the second half, only scoring 21 points compared to 41 in the first half, which Turner Thorne said was a result of the team stepping off of the gas pedal.

"I thought we lost aggressiveness a little bit. I thought we slowed down," Turner Thorne said. "We're still getting into game shape."

Nine of the 11 Sun Devils who took the floor on Monday got into the scoring column, although none of them finished in double figures. Turner Thorne said the team is trying to establish a level of depth where each of the five players on the court can be a threat to score.

"We are really trying to build that so that we don't have someone out there that nobody is guarding when we get to Pac-12 (play)," Turner Thorne said. "I think we have that now, and that showed today."

One of those players that have added to the team's depth this season is the team's lone senior, forward Bre'yanna Sanders. Sanders finished Monday's contest with a career-high nine points, hitting four of five shots.

Sanders mentioned that she takes pride in being the team's only senior. 

"It's a great opportunity," Sanders said. "I've played under some really good players over the last three years here, so just being able to show that leadership to these youngins is really important to me."

Freshman guard Jaddan Simmons was also a big part of the team's hot start as she scored all eight of her points in the first half. Simmons says she's feeling more comfortable on the floor each contest by letting the game come to her.

"I think I'm handling it really well," Simmons said. "Overall just not being scared to make mistakes and focus on what's really important, and that's playing basketball."

Turner Thorne feels good with how her team performed in its three non-conference games heading into the start of Pac-12 play.

"I think our team definitely got tougher, and we gained some confidence through these three games," Turner Thorne said. "I feel like they should be pretty confident going into Pac-12 that they know what it takes to win."

However, the team's win against the Gaels did not come without suffering a loss. Turner Thorne said postgame that junior forward Jayde Van Hyfte will miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury that she will be getting surgery for. Van Hyfte's injury is a big blow to an ASU team already short on frontcourt depth.

"It's hard for everybody, especially Jayde. She's really anchored our defense and been a real tough player for us," Turner Thorne said. 

Turner Thorne sang Van Hyfte's praises after the game but noted that the team will have to adopt a "next woman up" mentality.

ASU will look to improve to 4-0 when it hosts USC on Dec. 4 at 5 p.m. MST at Desert Financial Arena to begin Pac-12 play.


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

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