ASU women's basketball defeats Colorado in return from 18-day layoff

The Sun Devils forced 25 Buffalo turnovers, 17 of which were steals

ASU women's basketball defeated Colorado 51-47 on Friday afternoon in Tempe, returning from a nearly three-week-long hiatus due to COVID-19 protocols.

The Sun Devils held a 49-37 lead with 3:38 left in the contest but saw that lead dwindle after giving up a 10-0 run to the Buffaloes. 

Colorado had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead with under 20 seconds remaining,  but ASU junior guard Jamie Loera dove onto the floor to grab a loose ball to help secure the Sun Devil victory.

Prior to Friday, ASU had not played a game since its Jan. 3 loss to No. 1 Stanford. Without games to play, the Sun Devils were able to get ample practice time, which helped them install a new zone defense which they debuted against Colorado with great success.

ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said the team implemented this defense due to a lack of size and depth with the team missing three key players in junior forward Iris Mbulito, freshman guard Maggie Besselink and freshman forward Katelyn Levings.

Turner Thorne knew coming into the game the team's defense was going to have to step up to come out with a win.

"I said, 'Hey, if we work this (zone) the way we know we can, we can hold them under 50,' and thank God we did, because we scored 51," Turner Thorne said. "We executed really well defensively, and for our team, it was all about getting steals in the zone. "

That zone defense worked wonders, as ASU finished with 17 steals and forced 25 Colorado turnovers. 

"I think we caught (them) off guard a little bit because we haven't shown that defense," Turner Thorne said. "I thought we really knew their actions and we took stuff away and really, you know, were able to turn them over."

Junior guard Taya Hanson, who finished with a team-high 16 points, including two free throws in the final seconds to close the game, said the team was energized out of the gate following the long layoff.

"I'm really proud of the team and how they just came out and worked hard, despite not having three big players," Hanson said. "It may have been a little bit ugly, but it came to down to just being connected, and I'm really proud of the girls for that."

Freshman guard Jaddan Simmons, who finished with 13 points and 4 steals, said she wasn't surprised the team performed well after the hiatus.

"We've been out for so long that we just had so much time to prepare, and like, we've had all this adrenaline ready," Simmons said. 

ASU will return to the court on Jan. 24 to play against Utah at 2 p.m. MST at Desert Financial Arena.

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