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ASU Women’s Basketball: No. 19 Devils take first game of the ASU Classic in dominant fashion

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A strong offensive first half guides No. 19 ASU to the ASU Classic championship.

Richard Martinez/House of Sparky

On March 18, 1982, the defending national champion and No. 1 Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters crushed No. 17 Arizona State in the regional semi-finals of the NCAA tournament 92-54. Over 20 years later, the two teams met again in the ASU Classic for only their second ever matchup, and it was much in the Devils’ favor.

No. 19 Arizona State (4-2) cruised over Louisiana Tech (4-3) 80-44 in game one of the ASU Classic Saturday afternoon.

In what may have been its best offensive performance of the season, ASU came out of the gates firing from all over the floor. In the first quarter alone, they were 12 of 20 shooting, and 5 of 7 from three-point range.

“Whenever we are shooting it well that helps our offense a lot,” senior guard Courtney Ekmark said. “I thought we did a good job of getting paint touches and threes. That is one thing we focused on this week.”

Ekmark was one of three Devils to reach double-digits in scoring. She scored 12 points, all of which came on threes.

This was a much needed performance from her after going just 2 of 12 against then No. 5 Louisville and not taking any shots, other than free throws, against Southern Illinois.

Ekmark was not at all shaken from that performance.

“I’m normally pretty confident, all the time,” Ekmark said. “It’s nice to come out and get hot in the first half.”

“It is important for her to stay confident and come back from an off-night,” coach Charli Turner Thorne added. “Courtney was Courtney today and she stepped up huge.”

Along with Ekmark, senior forward Kianna Ibis was 6 of 11 and totaled 13 points in 13 minutes, and senior center Charnea Johnson-Chapman scored 10 points and grabbed 9 rebounds, falling just one rebound shy of a double-double.

The advantage in depth continues to show for Turner Thorne. All 15 Sun Devils got at least five minutes of playing time on Saturday.

Senior Sophia Elenga and freshman Jayde Van Hyfte scored seven points and collected six rebounds each.

“That’s something we’re super excited about having this year is depth because we didn’t have that last year,” Turner Thorne said. “To have these players that are fresh and hungry and talented is really fun.”

In the second quarter, ASU made 8 of 17 baskets for a 47% shooting percentage. The third quarter saw them shoot 7 of 17 (41%), and the fourth quarter, they only made 5 of 17 (29%).

“Our games that we did lose, our perimeter scoring was not there,” Turner Thorne said. “We had some really good team offense, but that’s something that needs to improve by tomorrow.”

Awaiting the winner of the game between Alabama (5-1) and Tulsa (4-3), ASU is prepared to take on whichever team ends up in the championship game.

“It’s a quick turnaround but we’re going to make sure we study our scouts tonight,” Ekmark said. “Just get locked in at shoot-around tomorrow and really pay attention. It’s going to be key for us to focus and get sharp.”

More importantly, Ekmark knows that the opponent is just one factor of preparation.

“It’s also not about who we play,” Ekmark said. “It’s about us.”

ASU’s game will tip-off tomorrow at 2 p.m., and can be streamed through Pac-12 Plus.