No. 22 Arizona State (18-8, 8-6 Pac-12) completed a much needed weekend by taking down both the Washington schools. After three straight losses to top-10 opponents, the Sun Devils were able to get a sweep in front of their home fans.
The Sun Devils came into Sunday’s game narrowly escaping the Washington State Cougars. Today’s matchup looked to be won with ease until a final push by Washington (11-14, 3-11) was made in the fourth quarter.
“Not sure what year it was but we had a team coined the cardiac kids,” coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “Every game was down to the wire, but we were good at pulling them out. This is definitely cardiac kids the second coming of it. We just make it interesting.”
As Turner Throne pointed out, the Sun Devils this year have kept most games close until the final whistle.
Heading into the fourth quarter, ASU lead 50-44 and had a steady lead over the course of the game. Washington wasn't ready to throw in the towel. Instead, they put up 24 points while shooting 75 percent from the field.
Turner Throne gave credit to Washington and head coach Jody Wynn for their performance in today’s game.
The Huskies were able to make a comeback late in the game thanks to the help of senior guard Amber Melgoza. In the fourth quarter, she scored 12 points on 4-6 shooting and brought the team within two after a layup with 15.6 seconds left in the game. Turner Thorne compared her to Sabrina Ionescu, but she believed that her team’s defense wasn't terrible down the stretch.
The defense held up well enough to hold onto the lead and preserve a 72-68 victory for the Sun Devils.
ASU now has a new all-time assists leader (539) in senior guard Reili Richardson.
Richardson has continued to blossom as a basketball player in all four years as a Sun Devil and it has shown. She instantly drew praise with the former assist leader and WNBA first round pick, Briann January. January’s 538 assists stood for over 10 years until her tutor, Richardson took over the title.
The two shared a special bound in January’s time as an assistant under Turner Throne. It was easy to see what the two point guards would talk about on the floor and how to find the open man for an easy shot.
“I passed a legend, so it’s pretty awesome,” Richardson said. “It was awesome when she coached me and it's even more awesome that I passed her.”
Richardson was able to pick up a few things during January’s coaching tenure at ASU. She mentioned the little things on the court.
“Just little things on the court,” Richardson said. “Point guard things to be honest but I learned a lot in high school, and I came here and learned even more by playing with seniors and I've had awesome coaches.”
One of the coaches that has had the privilege of coaching both players in Turner Throne. She was asked about the similarities in the two point guards play but she mentioned the poise of the two.
“They’re different types of players but both of them came in as freshman and were impact players for us,” Turner Thorne said. “Both of them grew into not just a point guard but a combo guard and growing their scoring every year,”
“They both were so poised. off the top of my head the thing they shared the most is their poise. Bri had so much fun playing and Reili has ice in her veins. When you are really skilled like those two are, it’s easier to be poised.”
Two of her teammates: Jamie Ruden and Kiara Russell have been with Richardson since they walked on campus in 2016. In that time, they are proud of the work she does on the court.
“I’m just so proud of Reili for breaking the all-time record,” Russell said. “She's an amazing point guard and i’m happy to be her partner on the court.”
Ruden added how consistent Richardson has been in the four years they have been teammates.
“Its been a huge privilege to play with both of these guys (Russell and Richardson) all four years,” Ruden said. “Like Kiki said, I’m so proud of Reili and she's just been so consistent the entire time she's played. She's earned this and I’m excited for her.”
Richardson and Turner Thorne both pointed out that they didn’t hear the congratulations in game because of how focused they were in the fourth quarter.
“I didn't really here everybody announce it,” Richardson said. “I was locked into the game and winning.”
Turner Thorne believes her point guard’s statement because she didn't hear the announcement.
“No, I didn't hear the announcement either,” Turner Throne said. “I’m oblivious about any stuff like that anyway. We don't really talk about that stuff going into a game. Individual records happen because other people help you do them.”
Turner Thorne said Richardson got the game ball and will get another ball with signatures. She did say you celebrate the accomplishments after the game, to stay focused with the game in hand.
Arizona State will head to the mountain schools to take on Colorado (15-10, 4-10) and Utah (12-13, 5-9) next weekend.