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ASU Women’s Basketball: Two huge defensive stops nets No. 19 ASU a one-point win

Ibis’ 26 and Richardson’s late free-throw pushes ASU to victory.

Richard Martinez/House of Sparky

What is great about sports is the best moments are always unscripted; you never know what will happen. This game had its highs and lows on both sides, but No. 19 ASU (12-4, 3-2) was competitive from start to finish, and they were rewarded with the ‘W’.

It came down to the final seconds, but the Devils finished on top in a 62-61 victory over No. 24 Cal (10-5, 1-3) Sunday night.

This game had two standouts; one by her statistics, and the other because of her canny ability to score when it matters most.

Senior Kianna Ibis scored 26 points and made a career high four three-point shots. She added to her line six rebounds.

“When we did our on-ball screen plays, they keyed in on our point guards,” Ibis explained. “I just decided to (shoot) because I was wide open, and I was confident to knock them down today.”

Junior Reili Richardson didn’t light up the stat sheet, but for the second week in a row was the last player to score. She was fouled with 4.6 seconds remaining while the game was tied at 61, and made one of her two free throws.

“They take things away from her (pointing at Ibis) because they are gonna key on her,” Richardson said. “I just step up.”

“She’s starting to hit her stride, and be a little more aggressive offensively,” coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “I’m excited about her play, and she’s been clutch.”

She made the final shot and then on the final defensive possession had a crucial stop, getting her hand in on one of the last shots to officially end the game.

It was two of the biggest defensive stops of the game; one of which ran the whole shot clock, and the other to close out the game.

“We knew they were gonna lob it on the last play,” Turner Thorne said. “I think the other play they tried to but we had great ball pressure and we just kept them out. I want to credit my team for getting more aggressive.”

“We decided we were going to double-team (Cal forward Kristine Anigwe) the whole game,” Ibis said. “We tried to pressure whoever was throwing the ball to her. She (Richardson) came over on the last second play and she hit it right out of her hands. That was really exciting.”

It was almost a tale of two defenses between Friday and Sunday. Where Charli Turner Thorne did not comment on their performance Friday, she was more than happy to commend them Sunday.

“After the first quarter I really liked our defensive effort,” she said. “Just being more aggressive and playing better team defense, I thought we took some strides.”

The Devils were able to hold Anigwe scoreless for the first 15 minutes of the game before she became a bigger presence for Cal. The Phoenix native finished with a double double of 21 points and 16 rebounds. She was only 5 of 17 from the field but she was 11 of 12 from the free-throw line.

The Devils have their Oregon road trip starting next Friday in Eugene. It will be their third-straight ranked opponent when they face off with No. 5 Oregon (15-1, 4-0) at 7 p.m. It will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network and can be heard on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060.