Arizona State’s women’s basketball team seemed to have learned from past mistakes in the past four early pace losses to UCLA.
Despite a strong first quarter, ASU struggled to maintain its lead and fell 59-52 to UCLA on Saturday at Desert Financial Arena. ASU (12-13, 4-9 Pac-12) lost its fifth straight game heading into the upcoming Pac-12 tournament.
“Obviously that’s not how we wanted to end our season at home and our struggles are well documented this year in terms of not having our roster and all of our COVID setbacks. From a general standpoint, it’s been a struggle, and yet, we’re here if we just want to stop having empty possessions,” said ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne.
ASU came in with the same big move as a team from the previous game, but made the key changes in improved shooting. The key stretch for ASU came late in the quarter when ASU shot four of four and built a 12-2 run over UCLA. The Sun Devils shot 43.8% late in the quarter to take an 18-11 lead.
The momentum was lost for ASU in the second quarter as the Devils scored just one field goal in their last seven attempts. UCLA (12-11, 7-7 Pac-12) took control on five straight points from guard Charisma Osborne, including a 3-pointer with 51 seconds left.
ASU had opportunities to catch up in the third quarter, but both teams spat on offense. ASU pleaded to control the game when the Sun Devils went on a 9-2 run. Jade Loville punctuated the run with a 3 that brought ASU down to one point at 1:30.
UCLA struggled in fits and starts in the second half, but held onto their lead as ASU struggled to score. The Bruins shared the lead in rebounds with eight in the first quarter, but managed double digits over the next three quarters. When UCLA took over in the second period, the Bruins had 13 rebounds. ASU was outshot 44-29 for the game and grabbed just nine offensive boards.
“We settled in, we didn’t get to the free throw line, we didn’t make UCLA guard like we did in the first quarter. We did it in the first quarter and I don’t think we did it the rest of the game,” Turner Thorne said.
The Bruins struggled to hold onto the ball throughout the game, including four straight turnovers in four minutes in the third quarter. UCLA finished the game with 17 turnovers, but ASU was only 11 points behind in turnovers.
“We just have to capitalize on those possessions,” said forward Mael Gilles. “They had 17 turnovers. We haven’t really capitalized on these turnovers. All these tight games mean we’re right there and we have to get over this hump.
Although Osborne, a known threat on offense, was contained at times, the guard managed to lead UCLA with 17 points. Guard Chantel Horvat grabbed 10 rebounds. Ilmar’l Thomas added 12 points and four assists.
Loville led ASU with 21 points on 9-of-23 shooting. Jaddan Simmons continued contributing for ASU with 11 points and six rebounds. Gilles, who was honored after the senior day game, led with five assists.
Gilles entered the program this season as a transfer from Rutgers and was expected to play small forward this season. However, season-long injuries to Meg Newman, Maggie Besselink and Jayde Van Hyfte left the 6’1″ forward at center.
“She did very well. She brought a great sense of urgency to our team as well as some experience and tenacity,” said Turner Thorne.
Now that the regular season is behind, ASU will need to quickly put past losses behind and prepare for the upcoming Pac-12 tournament. ASU is scheduled to face No. 8 Oregon State (13-12, 6-9 Pac-12) as the ninth seed starting Wednesday, March 2 in Las Vegas. The game will start at 3:30 p.m. ASU previously defeated Oregon State 67-57 in Tempe on Feb. 4.
The winner will advance to play against top-seeded Stanford on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
The Sun Devils have fired guard Gabriela Bosquez. Bosquez has only missed one game due to an injury suffered in Washington last weekend. Guard Isadora Sousa has warmed up to the team after being out since Dec. 12 at Creighton, but did not play in the game.
“There’s actually a chance that we can get Isadora back for the Pac-12 tournament and he’s a big, strong, versatile guard,” Turner Thorne said.
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