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ASU WBB: Sun Devils cruise through Utes, advance to Pac-12 Quarterfinals

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It’s March.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Greensboro Regional: Arizona State v Florida State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Less than a week after wrapping up its regular season with a weekend split against USC and UCLA, the Arizona State Sun Devils began postseason play with Thursday’s Pac-12 Tournament opener.

The fifth-seeded Sun Devils endured hiccups throughout the first half against No. 12 Utah, but Sophie Brunner and Sabrina Haines heated up in the second half and the Sun Devils were able to enjoy a comfortable 72-54 win over the Utes. The win sets up a quarter-final showdown on Friday against UCLA, who Arizona State lost 55-52 to this past Sunday.

Haines led all scorers with 12 points while Brunner and Quinn Dornstauder pitched in 11 and 10 points each, respectively. The Sun Devils also received considerable support from its bench, as every player who saw minutes in Thursday’s win found their way on the scoresheet.

ASU opened the game on fire from the field as Robbi Ryan drained back-to-back jumpers and Dornstauder established herself as a force in the paint, scoring six first quarter points and putting Utah’s Wendy Anae into early foul trouble. The first quarter also saw the return of Jamie Ruden to action, as the forward scored in her first playing time since injuring her foot in a December practice.

Owning an 18-9 lead headed into the second quarter, the Sun Devils continued to put points on the board but experienced hiccups on the defensive end of the court as Utah made a number of jumpers to claw back to within five points at the half at 32-27.

Haines scored eight of her 12 points in the third quarter as ASU blitzed out to an 11-2 run to open the quarter, giving the Sun Devils a sizable lead they wouldn’t relinquish. ASU got continued production from Ruden, Ryan and other members of the bench and cruised through the fourth quarter en route to the Pac-12 tourney’s second round.

As Ruden works her way back into the fold and Kelsey Moos - playing in her fifth game since returning from two months away from the court - continues to find her feet, the Sun Devils are peaking at the exact right time. They’ll look to continue their Pac-12 run on Friday against the Bruins.