After a tough weekend trip to the Bay Area, No. 21 ASU (19-8, 10-6) returned home to begin maybe their toughest homestand of the season. In front of a mixed crowd of Devil and Beaver fans alike, ASU defended its home court.
For the second time this season, ASU defeated No. 9 Oregon State (23-6, 13-4) in a 66-54 victory.
Senior Kianna Ibis led the way for the Devils with 20 points. She finished the first half with just four, but was able to light up the second half with the other 16.
“It’s my teammates trying to find me open,” Ibis said. “It was kind of down the stretch so [Oregon State] was in a sense of urgency. Sometimes you get away from playing two-people strength. I just took advantage.”
It was almost deja vu for Ibis. In the first contest against Oregon State, she shot 9-of-9 from the field in the second half and overtime. Today, she was 6-of-7 shooting in the second half; a combined 15 of 16 against Oregon State in the second half.
“Kianna tends to get better as the game goes on,” coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “It’s just a mark of a great player that she stays poised and stays adjusted. Kianna is special.”
Adding their contributions were freshman Iris Mbulito, who scored 10 points off the bench, and senior Charnea Johnson-Chapman, who scored six points, collected 12 boards, and tallied a career-best four assists.
“It felt good just to help my team,” Johnson-Chapman said. “I know last weekend, I struggled doing that, personally. This week I just focused on what my team needed from me, and just let go of anything holding me back. I just wanted to be there for them.”
The first half was tightly contested. ASU led a majority of the half despite a rocky first quarter of shooting - just 5 of 16 from the floor.
ASU’s best performance came in the third quarter, where they not only scored 25 points but limited Oregon State from scoring for nearly the first half of the quarter. The Beavers would only amass 13.
It was almost in perfect contrast to both of their third quarter performances last week.
“I told them ‘make [Oregon State] call the first timeout, let’s get after it’,” Turner Thorne explained. “They just responded well. I didn’t have to say we stunk last week in the third quarter, but I felt like they were in attack mode. We need to do that the rest of the season.”
ASU defensively was able to shut down Oregon State’s leading scorer Destiny Slocum. After she committed two fouls in the first four minutes of the game, she was benched for the half.
In the second half, she fouled out with 3:28 remaining in the game. She only scored three points.
“I feel like today we came hungry and we came with a sense of urgency,” Ibis said. “We were playing like it’s our last conference games, and I feel that with my whole team, and we feel connected.”
The tough stand continues Sunday against No. 2 Oregon (25-3, 14-2), but not just because of the opponent. It will be the last game played at Wells Fargo Arena by seniors Ibis, Johnson-Chapman, Courtney Ekmark and Sophia Elenga.
“I just want the team to know we’re giving our all for them,” Johnson-Chapman said. “We’re helping them grow into people that are better than what they are this year. No one wants to come back and be the same team they were last year. Everyone wants to get better.
“Anyway that we can leave a legacy or a pathway for people to grow, that’s what I want.”
Sunday’s game will tip off at 1 p.m. It will be broadcasted on Pac-12 Network and can be heard on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060.
If you’re following the Devils in the conference standings, they would move up to fourth if No. 25 UCLA loses to Utah. ASU is currently fifth and one spot shy of a first-round bye in the conference tournament.