Despite Overcoming Shortcomings in First Quarter, Arizona State Women’s Basketball Falls to Utah

Late-game heroism wasn’t enough for Arizona State’s women’s basketball team to overcome their massive first-half deficit.

Outscored 21-4 after the first quarter against Utah, the beleaguered defense that was the driving force behind ASU’s upset victory over No. 22 Colorado on Friday seemed to loosen up against Utah’s shooters, giving way to a 72-63 loss on Sunday at Desert Financial Arena.

“We just weren’t going. It was as if we were in quicksand. We were beaten to the ground, but not ready the whole first half,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “We really didn’t have the teamwork and connectivity that we worked on. that we had Friday night. They just played individually and tried to get everything back in one fell swoop.

Guard Jade Loville returned to the lineup after missing the previous game, leading ASU’s offense with 20 points on seven of 19 attempts. Lovell scored the only two field goals for ASU in the first quarter as ASU shot 15.4% from the floor.

“She was a positive when we weren’t getting anything, but at the same time we don’t want to just give the ball to (Lovell) and tell him to score. We have to run offensively, we have to get to the free throw line, we have to push it forward. We didn’t do that today,” Turner Thorne said. “It wasn’t his fault, it was our team that didn’t do it. And all of a sudden Suddenly, she’s trying to bail us out.

For the second game in a row, ASU did not reach the free throw line in the first quarter. The only free-throw opportunity came in the first half when forward Katelyn Levings made both of her attempts in the second quarter.

ASU trailed by 24 points at halftime, but fought back in a manner almost reminiscent of the 20-point win over Utah in 2019, the biggest comeback in program history. The Sun Devils outshot the Utes in both quarters, even going 20-9 in the third quarter. Guard Ayzhiana Basallo was a spark plug in the fourth quarter, knocking down three 3-pointers in the final minutes to turn the game into a six-point game before being pushed back by the Utes. Basallo finished with 11 points.

Maggie Besselink, Mael Gilles and Levings all had five rebounds. Gilles added three blocks for Arizona State (9-6, 1-1 Pac-12).

“We benchmarked a few years ago when we were down 20 at the start of the fourth quarter and we won. All we had to do was start playing defense and we talked about it in the third quarter. I think we did a good job, the fourth quarter was a three or four possession game and we were fine. But we just had too many failures and it’s a big hole to get out of,” said Turner Thorne.

Utah (10-5, 1-2) charged ASU at the 3-point line, nailing seven 3-pointers on 15 first-half attempts. Utah guard Gianna Kneepkens particularly lit up the ground in the first half, shooting perfectly on all three attempts from 3 and finishing with six of seven shots for 15 points. Kneepkens led the Utes with 20 points on seven of 14 shots.

Although limited to two looks in the second half, Kneepkens’ hard shot succeeded again for Utah when his fourth 3-pointer of the game set the Sun Devils back nine points at 1:43. The duo of Kneepkens and Brynna Maxwell wreaked havoc on ASU, with both guards hitting six of Utah’s nine 3s. Maxwell added 15 points on four field goals.

Contributing even more to the Utes victory was the ability to control the boards. At halftime, Utah had 26 boards to ASU’s 14. In the end, Utah finished with 42 rebounds to ASU’s 37.

“When you don’t play a game for three weeks, everything is affected. It was a pleasant surprise on Friday night with our defense and our teamwork,” Turner Thorne said. “I think more of the layoff showed today. We just have to improve and control the boards.

Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602-647-4122. Follow her on Twitter @jennarortiz.

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