Opening conference play after over a week’s layoff, the No. 18-ranked Sun Devils failed to notch a statement win to close out 2016, falling at home to the No. 13 Stanford Cardinal 62-57. ASU was led on the scoreboard by Reili Richardson and Sophie Brunner, as the former notched 14 points while Brunner led the Sun Devils with 15. Stanford’s Karlie Samuelson led all scorers with 16 points.
Trailing 48-42 entering the fourth period as the Cardinal closed the third quarter with a five-point burst, ASU’s Sophie Brunner sank a jumper to pull back within 50-46, but the Cardinal didn’t relent to the rallying Sun Devils, answering with a Nadia Fingall layup and Alanna Smith steal-and-score to keep ASU at a distance.
It wasn’t until the player who had struggled against the Cardinal defense all game stepped up and made a play that the Sun Devils were finally able to turn the six-point contest into a nail biter down the stretch. Senior forward Quinn Dornstauder had opened afternoon with three early scoring opportunities against a smaller Fingall, but couldn’t convert any of her sky hook chances and was deemed ineffective the rest of the half.
Her second half got out to a similar start, and she spent the majority of the third quarter on the pine, but Dornstauder’s layup with the and-1 at the three-minute mark galvanized the crowd and made it a 56-52 game with 3:38 left in the fourth. A quick five-point sprint from Richardson made up for a Stanford layup and the Sun Devils had possession with under a minute left looking to tie the game at 59.
It wasn’t until there were 19.2 seconds left on the clock that ASU got the ball back again, and this time they faced an insurmountable deficit as Stanford’s Erica McCall forced a foul from Dornstauder beyond the three point line and sank all of her shots from the charity stripe to extend a two-point Cardinal lead to what ended up being the difference on the afternoon.
The Sun Devils started out the game by making an emphasis of Quinn Dornstauder, and she created open looks for herself against Fingall, but couldn’t get any of her early looks to fall and the Sun Devil offense sputtered its way to just two points before Sophie Brunner collected an offensive rebound and coverted a layup to put ASU up 4-2 midway through the first.
As the two teams worked their out of the painted area and spread the ball around with more consistency, the open looks followed and the two teams traded blows for the rest of the half. Stanford’s Karlie Samuelson heated up in the second period, draining 5-7 shots and pacing the Cardinal with 11 first half points. But the Sun Devils countered with volume scoring from a couple of their key players, and Sophie Brunner’s eight first half points and Sabrina Haines’ six kept the Sun Devils in step with the No. 13 Cardinal as the teams entered the half at 32-31.
With the loss, the Sun Devils move to 9-3 overall with a 0-1 conference record. Next up on the ASU ledger is another ranked team, as No. 18 California makes the trek to Tempe to take on the Sun Devils.