Basketball is a game of who can score more shots, and the amount of shots taken by No. 19 ASU (11-4, 2-2) was indicative of their offensive performance as a team.
The Devils suffered their first home loss of the season to No. 6 Stanford (13-1, 3-0) 72-65 Friday night in a game where ASU made only 39.2% of its shots.
“We’re not playing good team offense and we’re not executing our game plan,” coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “The shooting percentage isn’t reflective of our shooting, it is reflective of our offense.”
It was an offense that made several mistakes early on, whether it was overthrown passes leading to unforced turnovers, or a lack of screens or waiting to have shots created from their plays.
“It’s just execution stuff, and they know it,” Turner Thorne said. “They just got to do something about it.”
A bright spot offensively was Charnea Johnson-Chapman. The senior center matched a career high scoring 16 points. She added to it six rebounds - five on offense - two assists, two blocks and two steals.
“I think of my team and what they need from me,” she said. “Charli tells me if I need to score and to basically be confident in my shot. We work on it and work on me scoring so just be confident.”
She has consistently been a bright spot against Stanford. Last season, she also scored 16 points - 12 in the second half - while shooting a perfect 6 of 6 in that game.
“(Against) Fresno and U of A, she wasn’t looking to score at all, so we challenged her,” Turner Thorne said. “Since then, I think she has been looking to score and she’s playing a lot better.”
On the other side of the floor, the defense was torn apart by the high-scoring duo of senior Alanna Smith and junior DiJonai Carrington. Smith scored 25 scoring 9-of-15 while Carrington compiled a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
In what was also the best quarter the Sun Devils played, scoring 12 of 18 and limiting Stanford to 5-of-15, Carrington hit a half-court dagger at the buzzer that robbed the Devils of all momentum. It could have been a one-point deficit.
“I think we were fine going into the fourth quarter, but that’s just indicative of our team right now,” coach said. “We made a play. Take a breath. That’s not good enough to beat a Final Four caliber team.”
“We didn’t really let it get to us,” Johnson-Chapman said. “We just decided that we need to not make mistakes like that. We have to pick up until the buzzer.”
The opponents will continue to get more difficult in one of the most competitive conferences in the nation. No. 24 California (10-4, 1-2) is coming off a loss to Arizona but bring with them another high-scoring post player in Kristine Anigwe.
“She’s a key, and they have better perimeter shooting around her,” coach said. “She’s an even more dominant offensive player than Smith.”
Most important for coach Charli Turner Thorne, she wants her team to play a complete game of basketball.
“You’ve gotta play for 40 minutes, and we’re not.”
ASU vs Cal will tip off at 5 p.m. Sunday. It will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network and can be heard on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060.