The lights in Desert Financial Arena were only off for a few hours before the Sun Devils basketball program hosted another nationally-ranked opponent on the hardwood. This time it was the ASU women’s basketball team (11-8, 3-3 Pac-12) taking on No. 19-ranked Oregon (14-7, 7-3).
Arizona State was able to secure the 55-49 victory behind some key plays from reserves and steady team defense throughout the entire 40-minute game (no overtime needed for this one).
Senior guard Ayzhiana Basallo delivered an NBA-range trifecta as the Sun Devils’ first points of the game. She knew she was ‘feeling it.’ In her 21 minutes off the bench, she did it all, tallying 10 points, six assists and a pair of rebounds.
Basallo, at 5’5’’, was also caught fronting Oregon forward Sedona Prince (who stands at 6’7’’) in the post a few times, adding a couple deflections to her stat line.
“I think it’s just been evolutional,” head coach Charli Turner Thorne said of Basallo’s development. “Her decision-making in practice these last two weeks has been a 180-degree shift (from the start of the year).”
The other key reserve who played meaningful minutes in crunch time was forward Katelyn Levings. Levings hauled in six rebounds to go with six points, but none were more important than her offensive rebound after a missed free throw with 25 seconds left in the game.
The sophomore “could see where it was going” and went for it. Levings ended up getting fouled and hit both of her shots from the line, extending the ASU lead to five.
“I think so many teams focus on post rebounding,” Levings said postgame. “I think we focus on everyone rebounding. We have 5 people rebounding on every possession.”
Arizona State, although undersized against a Ducks team that features four players 6’4’’ and over, was able to tie the rebounding battle. For reference, the tallest player on ASU is Imogen Greenslade who stands at 6’4’’ and played five minutes on Sunday.
In a halftime interview over the jumbotron at Desert Financial Arena, head coach Charli Turner Thorne said the game looked like, “two teams that have played 3 games in six days.” Despite shooting 6-32 (19 percent) from the field, the Sun Devils only trailed by three at the break.
The Sun Devils picked up their defensive intensity as well, executing switches more effectively and forcing turnovers. The Ducks were held way below their season average of 72.4 points per game (third-best in Pac-12).
ASU has very limited time to rest. They will host and then travel to No. 8-ranked Arizona this upcoming weekend.
“We are building our toughness muscle,” Turner Thorne said. “We are gonna get after it.”