With one day between Friday’s loss to Arizona in Tucson and Sunday’s rematch in Tempe, the Arizona State Sun Devils didn’t hold a practice on Saturday to patch the holes that led to the loss at the McKale Center.
They didn’t need one. The film was all they needed.
“We watched the game, and they just saw it,” head coach Charli Turner-Thorne said. “They saw it wasn’t the effort they were capable of giving, and they made the adjustments. They knew they could work a lot harder, deny a lot harder, get to help side a lot more consistently, and I thought we did.”
Those adjustments were paramount come Sunday as the Sun Devils dispatched the Wildcats 67-54, taking the latter half of this weekend’s doubleheader against their arch-rivals.
“We really picked up our pressure,” guard Sabrina Haines said. ‘We wanted to pressure them and make them turn it over, and most of the game we did that.”
The Sun Devils scored 22 points off Wildcat turnovers, dominating on the fast break throughout the night.
Spurred by a shooting performance that well-exceeded Friday’s effort, the Maroon and Gold raced out to a double-digit lead in the first half and didn’t look back in the second. Haines led the Sun Devils with 13 points, going 4-4 from the field as she rebounded from a turnover-laden performance in Tucson. Forward Sophie Brunner chipped in ten points as the Sun Devils rode a total team effort to a win.
The win snaps a two-game skid and improves ASU’s record to 17-10 (8-8 in Pac-12) with two games left in the regular season. Arizona State will take on USC and No. 18 UCLA before traveling to Seattle for the Pac-12 Tournament.
Each team struggled on the offensive end out of the gate, playing to a 5-4 lead for Arizona State over halfway through the first quarter. Arizona’s full-court press stagnated the Sun Devil offense, but Quinn Dornstauder brokered a pair of layups to push ASU out to a 15-6 advantage and the Sun Devils didn’t look back from there. As the team’s ball movement improved, ASU caught fire. Haines drained back-to-back threes in the second quarter as ASU surged out to a 30-16 lead.
The offensive production was drastically-different than Friday night’s, when the Sun Devils only found success in the paint as Dornstauder and Brunner powered ASU.
“I thought we played a little faster. We played really slow Friday night, and tonight we got the ball moving,” coach Turner-Thorne said. “Again, they watched themselves not go hard (Friday). We anticipated they’d come out doubling the post, and again we didn’t practice we just told them they’re gonna do it. They did it the first play and Sophie finds Quinn for a layup. Credit our team for being ready for that.”
Leading 33-21 at the half, the Sun Devils extended their lead as Sophie Brunner heated up from the floor, going 3-for-3 over a two-minute stretch as ASU held a commanding 44-27 lead. Back-to-back jumpers from Sydney Goodson stretched the advantage to 51-32 heading into the fourth, and Turner Thorne replaced her starters with her young players for the fourth quarter as the Sun Devils.
Turner Thorne’s team finishes its regular season this weekend, as they’ll host No. 18 UCLA and USC to close out conference play and send the Sun Devils on their way to Seattle for the Pac-12 Tournament. A split against the Los Angeles schools all but guarantees ASU its fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.