It’s been nearly a month since the last game of Arizona State women’s basketball, but their identity has not been forgotten.
Long-awaited as the Pac-12 conference game was, ASU’s first Test pitted them against No. 22 Colorado, a rising force in the conference.
The Sun Devils showed few signs of nervousness as the team entered the first game since six COVID-19-related postponements threw the schedule into 22 gameless days. But the wait was worth it for ASU (9-5, 1-0 Pac-12) as their defense worked to upset No. 22 Colorado (13-3, 2-3 Pac-12) 57-52 Friday in overtime at Desert. Financial arena.
“I really feel like it happens. I mean, 29 turnovers, you don’t make your free throws, and you always find a way to win and you do it without your top scorer. I’m really proud of our team and how we stayed with things,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said.
ASU not only held Colorado to its season-low total, but won without leading scorer Jade Lovell (15.5 points) in the roster. However, the victory after a long layoff was not a major shock, but a step in the right direction for long-term improvement.
“If we don’t score, we have to hold off the teams. We’re notorious for keeping teams below their average, so that doesn’t surprise us because that’s what we’re supposed to do,” ASU goaltender Taya Hanson said.
Both teams played an aggressive game in overtime, with both teams settling for free throws. ASU forward Mael Gilles took control in the final games, grabbing four defensive rebounds and scoring five free throw points. Gilles finished with 11 rebounds as ASU had 48 boards.
Due in part to their resilient defense, ASU came out with a 6-0 start in the game.
Although Colorado found their footing when forward Peanut Tuitele stole the ball from Ayzhiana Basallo and sent it back for a 3-pointer from Frida Formann.
Once Colorado switched to a zone defense, scoring became even more difficult for ASU. The Sun Devils struggled to keep possession, turning the ball over 10 times in the second quarter.
“The zone was bothering us a bit in the second quarter at the end,” ASU guard Jaddan Simmons said. “But even going down at half time, we came out and knew why we were going into this game and it was a win. Whatever it looked like, it was for a win.
What helped ASU was Colorado star Mya Hollingshed’s lack of production caused by the ASU defense. The forward shot a four-for-four from the floor with her only contribution on a 3 with two minutes left in the second quarter. Colorado’s leading scorer was limited to six points in 24 minutes and was fouled in the fourth quarter. Quay Miller led the Buffaloes with 12 points and eight rebounds.
“It could have been our best lockdown game, not just the individual game, but also the assist. They really felt like they were doubling down and digging in, and not allowing the best players to play to their strengths and us isolate. And (Colorado is) a really good iso team,” Turner Thorne said.
Colorado’s offense was eight for 22 (36.4%) from the field in the first half. ASU shot 10 for 22 (45.5%) with guards Gabriela Bosquez, Simmons and Hanson leading the offense.
Hanson gave ASU a boost in the third quarter when she hit a 3 to cut Colorado’s lead to 26-25 at 8:01. The momentum continued as ASU scored eight unanswered runs and Hanson finished the half with six runs on two-of-three shooting and made both attempts from 3.
“They poured in everything they had, which made me want to give everything I had. (Lovell) wasn’t with us tonight, so I knew I had to step in on that, but my team supports me,” Hanson said.
Hanson finished with 17 points on five of 12 shooting with a team-high three 3-pointers on six attempts.
Colorado pulled off a second act in the fourth quarter, putting together an 8-2 run filled with speed and stealth throughout the contest. Guard Kindyll Wetta led the Buffaloes with eight interceptions in the game.
Colorado’s strong rebounding effort came when Jaylyn Sherrod’s initial shot missed, falling on Wetta who found an open Tuitele for the look with 16 seconds remaining to tie the game 46-46. ASU struggled to close the game when Colorado’s defense swarmed in the final seconds to force overtime.
Arizona State hosts Utah on Sunday at 12 p.m. from Desert Financial Arena.
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