On paper it was going to be an easy victory for No. 23 ASU, and the game ended just as anyone would expect.
However, the team all turned the attention to one key factor: effort.
“We almost took this one as a loss,” head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “We didn’t feel like we worked hard enough.”
Arizona State (1-0) defeated Incarnate Word (0-1) 81-43 in Wells Fargo Arena Friday night.
How did a 38-point victory translate to a loss?
One of the bigger showings of effort comes on the defensive end. Redshirt senior forward Courtney Ekmark said that effort did not happen.
“It’s good we got this game out of the way before we play Baylor,” she said. “We had some nerves and we need to learn how to channel that into our defense more. We just have to play harder on defense because that’s what we are known for and we didn’t do that tonight.”
The first half was rough for Devils on the offensive end as well. They missed on threes in the first quarter going 0-for-7, and turned the ball over seven times before the end of the quarter.
“We could have pushed harder,” junior forward Jamie Ruden said. “When we’re not pushing hard we get sloppy with other things and that showed in the turnovers.”
They recovered for 4-of-9 from three-range in the second quarter to separate from the Cardinals and end the half with a 20-point lead.
The bench truly helped push this team as time passed. Ruden scored 15 points and missed only one of her seven shots. With that was a strong showing from freshman guard Taya Hanson who put up seven points in just 12 minutes. She finished with 14.
“It is overwhelming and nerve-whacking at the start, but having a game under my belt i feel more confident,” Hanson said. “There is a lot I need to improve on and as a team we need to capitalize on. We’re going to focus on coming out tougher and stronger.”
Two other freshmen debuted in guard/forward Iris Mbulito and forward Jayde Van Hyfte. Mbulito had four assists and two rebounds while Van Hyfte scored seven points and collected seven rebounds.
“I thought all three had great moments,” coach Thorne said. “They’re only going to get better every day and every game. They’re very talented and have good toughness.”
While there are positives to take away, the team is clearly taking their effort to heart and looking to change that heading into Sunday’s matchup with No. 4 Baylor.
Tip off will be at 5:30 p.m. at Fort Defiance, AZ and the game can be viewed on ESPN2.