No. 4 Stanford (25-5, 14-4 Pac-12) walked away with a 55-44 victory over No. 24 Arizona State (20-10, 10-8) on Senior Day.
Things didn’t go to plan for the Sun Devils, as they struggled to overcome an injury to senior guard Kiara Russell early in the second quarter. Russell has battled numerous injuries throughout her career.
At the time of the injury, ASU was down 13-9. On the defensive side of the ball, Russell went down as she was called for a foul. Instantly she grabbed her left knee in pain as the players and crowd went silent. After a few minutes of gathering herself, Russell was helped off the court and into the tunnel. She was unable to put any pressure on her left knee.
Coach Charli Turner Thorne acknowledged the news postgame of Russell’s injury.
“It’s her knee, it doesn’t look good.” Turner Thorne said.
Seniors Robbi Ryan and Jamie Ruden spoke about the impact Russell has on the court and what she brings to the team.
“It had a tremendous impact,” Ryan said. “She’s one of our senior leaders, starting guards. She brings something to the team that people don’t see on the stat sheets. It’s definitely a big loss and we are praying for her.”
Ruden added that everybody was hurting after Russell went down early in the second quarter.
“Our heart just goes out to her,” Ruden said. “That’s our sister. When she’s hurting everybody else feels it too. We really have to take this to motivate us and we don’t know exactly what the prognosis tis for her, but we have to play for her no matter what and really come together for the rest of the basketball we have left.”
No. 4 Stanford looked to have run away with the game and cruise to the finish line However, a timeout by Turner Thorne kept the team fired up to finish strong.
“They were all still so fired up,” Turner Thorne said. “I don’t think we have to look at the last seven minutes of the game, I know this team has a lot in them and fight in them.”
ASU was able to finish the game on a 13-2 run after the timeout, but it wasn’t to take down Stanford.
One thing that Stanford did well on offense and defense was using their size. They out rebounded the Sun Devils 42-33 and shot 45 percent (25-56) as opposed to the 28 (16-57) percent for ASU.
“That’s probably the biggest team in the conference,” Turner Thorne said. “I always get a little nervous about that. We are used to being smaller. We always talk about you got to hit first and I thought they worked us on the boards and just their size bothered us. At the same time if we would have boxed out and had good position, we probably would have been ok. I still think it was less their size and more just our execution. Getting our box outs and getting our shots that we wanted and the shots falling.”
As the season moves forward into March and Pac-12 Tournament play beginning on March 5th, Turner Thorne finds this time to be the most exciting.
“I think we have a good resume and we have earned a March,” Turner Thorne said. “It’s your shortest season but it’s your most fun so I think we will be ready...When we get a break, then it’s time to really hit the reset button and get fresh and executed for March Madness. And we will do that and especially with five seniors. This is it for them and they aren’t done.”
ASU will enter the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas, as the No. 5 seed and take on the No. 12 seed Cal Golden Bears (11-18, 3-15).