Transitioning from a mid-major to a Power-Five conference can be challenging in any sport. Eleven games into the season, it has become apparent that senior guard/forward Jade Loville is not fazed by this transition and has continued to do what she does best: Get buckets.
A transfer from Boise State, Loville had the highest scoring game among Pac-12 players this year after her 34-point performance on Saturday in Arizona State’s (6-5) dominating 79-60 win over San Diego (7-3). It is the Sun Devils’ first true road win of the season after losing at BYU and Creighton earlier this season.
“I thought it was critical that we (get a road win) before we start Pac-12 (play),” coach Charli Turner Thorne said postgame. She cited that it would be a big boost of confidence for the young and new team.
From the jump, you could tell Loville was in her bag. Her much-coveted three-level scoring ability was on full display during the opening quarter, scoring on drives, midrange jumpers and from behind the arc. In total, she shot 12-15 from the field and 4-4 from three-point range.
In our summer “Four to Flourish” series highlighting Loville, the one area of needed growth was her three-point shooting, where she made five triples the entire 2020-21 season (shooting 13.2 percent). During her 2021-22 campaign, Loville has made 16 threes, shooting it at a 44.4 percent clip.
“That’s something we haven’t had in a while,” said Turner Thorne. “Where somebody can just go off like that. It certainly makes everyone else’s jobs easier.”
One of those players whose job was made easier on Saturday was forward Mael Gilles. Gilles added 17 points and four assists, mostly coming when the defense focused on Loville.
Usually when one person does a lot of scoring one can think the ball does not move as much. Against San Diego, the ball was zipping around the court and finding the hot hand. The Sun Devils assisted on 17 of their 27 made baskets, many of which were high-percentage looks.
The backcourt of Taya Hanson and Jaddan Simmons also accounted for a total of nine assists and two turnovers on the day.
After a high-scoring opening quarter, the Sun Devils started to distance themselves from San Diego, eventually building up as much as a 21-point lead in the second half. The defense picked up its intensity as well.
San Diego shot just 35.6 percent from the field and were struggling to get out in transition for some opportunistic buckets.
The Sun Devils will travel back to Tempe to prepare for a Tuesday matinee with UC Irvine that will be the first leg of a double-header with the men's team. The first game will tip-off at 12 p.m. local time.