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ASU Women’s Basketball: Stout second half defense propels Sun Devils over Lipscomb

Back in the Weatherup Center

Zac BonDurant

Teams can start off sluggish when returning from a holiday hiatus like this past week. For Arizona State (8-5), they just needed one half to shake off the rust and get back to playing their brand of basketball.

In the Sun Devils’ 70-54 win over Lipscomb (5-8) on Thursday afternoon, ASU took a two-point lead into the locker room at halftime. Leaning on their defensive mindset and on-ball pressure, they outscored the Bison 20-5 in the third quarter.

The ability to pick up the intensity on the defensive side of the ball was especially important because Arizona State was without their second-leading scorer and top rebounder Mael Gilles, who was not in uniform but on the bench for the game. Maggie Besselink was also out.

Although the front court depth was challenged, the starting backcourt for ASU continued their success in scoring and taking care of the basketball.

All three starting guards for Arizona State scored in double figures with Jade Loville (19 points) leading the way. Jaddan Simmons added 12 points and three steals and Taya Hanson contributed 11 points as well.

Taking care of the ball was a big point of emphasis coming into this season as ASU was ninth in the Pac-12 in turnovers (16 per game) and eighth in assists (11.6 per game). The trio of Loville, Simmons and Hanson also combined for 11 assists and one turnover (Hanson accounted for a team-high six assists). These kind of games need to become the norm for Arizona State to reach their aspirations of finishing in the top of the conference.

This victory makes ASU 2-0 all-time in the Weatherup Center, the team’s practice facility. After Desert Financial Arena experienced a power outage on Dec. 22, the team won against UC Irvine before scheduling their final non-conference game against Lipscomb earlier this week.

The Sun Devils will have to wait another week before they can start conference play, however. This week’s game against Lipscomb was scheduled to be played after both UCLA and USC (where Arizona State was supposed to travel this weekend) had to postpone their games due to COVID-19 protocols.

So ASU’s first crack at a conference opponent will be Jan. 7 against Washington (hopefully at Desert Financial Arena) at 11 a.m. local time.