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ASU Women’s Basketball: Richardson breaks record, Sun Devils pull past California

Start of senior weekend

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 29 Div I Women’s Championship - Third Round - Arizona State v Mississippi State

In the final weekend of the regular season, No. 24 Arizona State (20-9, 9-7 Pac-12) faced the California (10-17, 2-14 Pac-12). The bench contributed to more than half of the team’s points, leading to a 77-54 Sun Devil victory.

Things didn’t pick up until the second quarter, with both teams having a slow start. However, ASU lead 14-12 at the end of the first, but they had nine turnovers and were struggling on the boards, which was something that Cal capitalized on. They had 21 rebounds.

“Take a breath and calm down,” senior forward Jamie Ruden said on what the message was after the opening 10 minutes. “With the emotions of senior weekend, that can make us a bit tense so we just needed to relax a little bit and stay connected and that helped us in the second quarter.”

The bench had six of the team’s 12 points in the first 10 minutes to start the second. They ended up contributing 45 points.

“Offensively, we did a better job this game executing our offense and knowing what shots we were looking for,” Ruden said. “Reili (Richardson) had a lot of sweet assists. Our energy was good and when our energy is good, we are more relaxed on our shots.”

The Sun Devil defense started to put more pressure on the ball in the second as well, which resulted in 12 turnovers for the Golden Bears.

ASU went on an 8-0 run to pull away from Cal, and went 4-for-4 from behind the arc, two of them coming from sophomore guard Taya Hanson. They led by 12 going into halftime.

“Our defense wasn’t that bad in the first quarter, we were just turning the ball over,” coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “The turnovers were giving them points. They started talking because we had a lack of communication.”

ASU continued to be dominant in the second half, pulling away by as much as 24 at one point. They held the Golden Bears to 36 percent shooting, and out-rebounded them 42-28.

Another spark for the Sun Devils on Friday night was Ruden. She had 18 points and shot 7-for-11 from the field, while also going 4-for-5 from the behind the three-point line. Senior forward Ja’Tavia Tapley was another important component, adding 11 points.

“When Jamie Ruden and (Tapley) are both going, that’s a good one, two punch inside and I think we’ve been shooting the ball well,” Turner Thorne said.

History was made once again, too, as senior guard Reili Richardson became Arizona State basketball’s, men’s and women’s, all-time assist leader with 552. She also had nine points and added to the Sun Devil success with threes.

“I didn’t even know what the assist record was when I came into this season, or this school,” Rirchardson said. “To hear that, it’s just awesome and I give all the credit to my teammates. They just hit shots.”

The seniors of this Sun Devil squad will take the court one final time in Tempe on Sunday as they prepare to take on No. 4 Stanford at 12 p.m. MST.

“The seniors have given everything to us and they’ve left an incredible legacy here and that legacy isn’t quite finished yet,” Hanson said. “Charli was telling us younger players to do it for the seniors. We wanted to bring the energy for them.”

The Pac-12 tournament gets underway Thursday in Las Vegas. ASU could also see Cal again in the near future. The Sun Devils will most likely be the No. 5 seed in the conference tourney, facing the No. 12 seed, which is currently the Golden Bears.