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ASU Women’s Basketball: Sun Devils record another strong defensive performance

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Richard Martinez/House of Sparky

Arizona State (3-1) went back to the basics of wreaking havoc on the defensive side in the teams 66-41 win over Cal Poly (1-4).

The Sun Devils (3-1), were coming off of a 80-66 loss to Minnesota, and head coach Charli Turner Thorne reiterated that the team’s focus this week was defense.

“I thought that was a good team win,” Turner Thorne said postgame. “In case anyone didn't know, we focused on defense this week.”

Turner Thorne’s message was in a joking manner, as she knows the defense wasn't at its best in the Sun Devils loss to Minnesota. But returning back to Tempe, the energy on that side of the floor was there.

As a team, ASU forced 27 turnovers on the Mustangs and responded by scoring 35 points off of those turnovers.

“Just getting back to our defense,” senior guard Reili Richardson said of the Devils’ success. “Last game, we didn't play how we wanted to and we came into this game focusing on our defense.”

For Richardson, the defensive foul was there all night as she posted a new career-high in steals with six.

Another career night occurred with junior USC transfer Ja’Tavia Tapley. Tapley finished the game with 23 points, and when she was asked how her time at ASU has been as opposed to USC, she mentioned Turner Thorne’s trust.

“I know I have probably said this a lot, but my coach trusts me and she tells me she trusts me,” Tapley said. “It’s so easy to play as hard as I can, and know that the way I play and knowing that I can score and that I can do it.”

Her efforts so far into the season have showed, as she leads the team in scoring with 17 points per game.

As a transfer, she has had to build the trust and chemistry with her teammates and Richardson has seen that early on.

“She’s a great addition to our team,” Richardson said. “Losing the seniors from last year, I think she brings a lot to our team and she's very athletic. She's a good scorer.”

When asked how she felt about Richardson and the connection they have, Tapley couldn't help but crack a smile.

“My PG,” Tapley said as she fist bumped Richardson, who was sitting alongside her.

With ASU posting 66 points and forcing 27 turnovers, the team still struggled from the field, as it only shot 36 percent.

Turner Thorne, however, wasn't upset with the shooting woes, but instead saw it is as a learning tool for her young group.

“It was kind of a perfect thing that we didn’t shoot well,” Turner Thorne said. “We just need to build our toughness muscle and we need to keep getting better. If we shot well, we would not have got as much out of that game. We are still trying to build our defensive mentality. The scoring has come so early in the season.”

That mentality that is a staple of Turner Thorne teams was displayed as ASU held Cal Poly to 38 percent shooting and scoreless from the 3-point line. Another thing they did constantly was pressure the in-bounder as the game went on.

“It doesn’t matter that you shoot well or not,” Turner Thorne said. “If you bring your defense, you can win no matter what.”

The Sun Devils head to Florida to partake in the Florida Gulf Coast Showcase on Friday November 29-December 1. Turner Thorne and her group will take on Maine on the 29th.

“It’s going to be continuing to iron out some things defensively,” Turner Thorne said of future improvements. “We are finally kind of figuring our our rotation a little bit...We have good depth.”