ASU women's basketball unable to recover from early deficit against No. 1 Stanford

The Sun Devils cut a deficit as large as 17 points down to five in the fourth quarter but failed to complete the comeback

ASU women's basketball failed to overcome a slow start against No. 1 Stanford, falling 68-60 on Sunday afternoon in Tempe.

The Sun Devils (7-3) trailed by as many as 17 points in the first quarter, failing to score for over six minutes to start the game. Ultimately, the early deficit made ASU's comeback efforts fruitless despite the team trimming Stanford's lead to as little as five points in the fourth quarter.

ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said the sluggish start was a result of Stanford scoring easy baskets in transition early in the game.

"We haven't played a team with that type of pace, so in that first quarter we had to figure it out," Turner Thorne said. "I think they had to experience it a little bit before they adjusted to take away the transition game."

Turner Thorne said she was proud of her team's effort and resilience in keeping the game competitive, even without sophomore forward Eboni Walker and senior forward Bre'yanna Sanders available to play. 

"(The game) was there to take. Even without two key players, we were right there to win the game," Turner Thorne said. "We played the number one team in the country and showed ourselves we can play with anybody."

Offensively, ASU was carried by its starting backcourt of junior guard Taya Hanson and freshman guard Jaddan Simmons, the lone players for the team who finished the game scoring in double figures.

Hanson, who finished with 15 points, said the team didn't start the game with enough intensity, but she was still impressed with the team's resolve to rally back from the early deficit.

"We just weren't working hard, and we weren't ourselves," Hanson said. "I'm proud of our effort in those last three quarters. It definitely feels a little bit better than the previous losses we've taken."

Hanson, who struggled to shoot to start the season, has rebounded by scoring in double digits in each of the team's last five contests. She attributed her recent hot stretch to being "more in flow" with the team's offense and improving her mental preparation before games.

Simmons, who finished the game with the team's high of 16 points which included making all of her seven attempts from the free-throw line, said she was proud of how she and her fellow freshmen played on Sunday and throughout the season, as they took on a larger role with multiple players missing a significant portion of the season.

"Coach Charli (Turner Thorne) already told us that we can't play like freshmen, and I think all the freshmen know that and came in ready to do that," Simmons said. "Next time, (we) just gotta take the game and finish it."

ASU will now hit the road and face off with Washington State on Jan. 8 at 5 p.m. MST.

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