This game was back and forth, up and down, to the wire and everything else it could have been. It was a team effort for the No. 16 Devils (13-6, 4-4), who saw several players score double-digits, but it wasn’t enough.
ASU dropped its series opener to UCLA (10-9, 3-4) on a late-game three-pointer to fall 61-59 on Friday afternoon.
The final shot of the game. Japreece Dean with the three to win it. pic.twitter.com/P1iIm2xbrj— Mitchell Vareldzis (@sdmbjournalist) January 25, 2019
There were all types of performances, but the one most shocking was that of senior Kianna Ibis.
Ibis was slow to get going for the Devils. She made one shot in the first half on one attempt. She finished with 10 points on 12 shots.
“We can’t just be relying on Kianna,” coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “Today is a testament to that.”
There were two strong performances from senior forward Courtney Ekmark and junior guard Reili Richardson. Ekmark led with 14 points, including going 3-of-6 from three-point range.
Richardson continued her double-digit scoring ways with 12 of her own.
“We’ve been in a bunch of close games recently,” Ekmark said. “One thing that we should do is try to not make it so close and do our work early at the beginning, and not just decide to turn it on and play hard in the fourth quarter. We need to focus on getting ourselves going from the very start of the game.”
This game felt like it was going to be deja vu from two weeks ago against Cal, but one big difference in the two games - other than the result - was the rebounding.
“Rebounding wins,” Turner Thorne said. “We’ve been solid, but we can be better and we have to recommit to being better.”
The Devils have not been out-rebounded by an opponent since their game against Baylor on November 11. Today, they were out matched 40-37 by the Bruins.
“Credit to them for offensive rebounding, but that’s on us,” Ekmark said. “That was one of the main things we were focusing on going into the game, and we still got out rebounded. That’s really disappointing.”
Throughout the course of the season, ASU has prided themselves on rebounding ability. As a team, they have collected 144 more rebounds than their scheduled opponents, and they average 7.6 more rebounds than the opposition each game.
Sunday will be an opportunity for the Devils to bounce back, and it was a bounce back that Ekmark promised to the media.
“I think you guys are gonna see a fired up Sun Devil team Sunday for sure,” Ekmark said. “This is something we are not going to take lightly. You’re gonna see a team that is definitely boxing out, rebounding and playing hard for the entire 40 minutes.”
The Devils tip off Sunday at 1 p.m. against the USC Trojans (11-6, 1-5) - who have yet to play Arizona. The game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network and can be heard on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060.