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ASU WBB: Young backcourt begins to come together in win over Boston

There have been many guards rotated around for the Sun Devils, but a clear image of the ASU starting backcourt is starting to emerge

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-2nd Round-Arizona State vs UALR Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

While it was a large area of concern coming into the season, the Sun Devils have finally begun to see some consistent production in the frontcourt.

Entering the year the Sun Devils benefitted from three returning senior starters in Sophie Brunner, Quinn Dornstauder and Kelsey Moos. Unfortunately for the Maroon and Gold however, they all play in the post.

Expectedly, play down low against Boston was dominant. The Terriers had no answer for Brunner and Dornstauder on either side of the floor, as the seniors combined for 21 points, five rebounds and three blocks.

The frontcourt wasn’t only great in the 71-42 win, it was deep. Sophomore forward Kianna Ibis provided a nice spark off the bench, tallying eight points and five boards, without missing a shot while on the floor.

Unexpectedly, however, the Sun Devils’ guard play seemed to really come together during the game and appeared deep at times, too. ASU started the game with sophomore guard Sabrina Haines and freshman guard Kiara Russell, but hardly stayed with the group throughout the game. ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne continued to rotate minutes at the guard position, giving five different players 15-plus minutes Saturday.

This gave us a good look at nearly every guard on the roster, so let’s take a look at the guards’ performances from the Devils’ victory Saturday:

Bobbi Ryan

While she led in no statistical category against Boston, Ryan delivered the most complete performance on the court.

She only finished with eight points, but grabbed three boards, added an assist and made two three-point plays. She was also one of few ASU guards who attacked in the paint, transitioning from the perimeter to the basket herself instead of relying on Dornstauder and Brunner to lay it in down low.

Sabrina Haines

Haines lead the entire team in scoring, shot 60 percent from the floor, and seemed to be the only Sun Devil who delivered from the free-throw line. She was also the most effective distributor, leading the team with five assists.

Haines has essentially assumed the role of lead playmaker on offense, and after the game she noted the dominant frontcourt “makes everything so much easier.” Coach Thorne added that she’s looking for Haines to develop into a leadership role for her young group of guards, stating that “we need her to be a stabling force and also an energizer.”

Haines will most likely continue to get starting minutes as the Sun Devils look to solidify their lineup as we near conference play.

Reili Richardson

Richardson led all Sun Devils with 23 minutes, but delivered a mixed bag sort of performance. She managed only five points on seven shots, and went 0 for 4 from beyond the arc.

While the Devils’ newly-appointed backcourt leader, Haines, admitted after the game that “shooting is always going to be iffy”, Richardson’s performance from three is indicative of concerning issue for the Sun Devils.

They finished 1 of 9 from 3-point range, a mark that must improve if they want to stay competitive against two very good programs in Long Beach State and Florida.

While the parity in the backcourt is justifiably developing a bit of concern for Sun Devil fans, there is evidence to believe it’s more a symptom of a grueling, early-season schedule than a lack of talent. Head coach Charli Turner Thorne addressed the high level of guard rotation at her press conference following Saturday’s win, stating that with so many previous road games and another contest coming tomorrow, her team “would have done it anyway.”