(Photo Credit: Steve Rodriguez/Sun Devil Athletics)
On Senior Day, No. 20 Arizona State (22-6, 11-5) took down the Utah Utes (11-16, 4-12), 60-40, at Wells Fargo Arena.
In the first half, ASU led by as many as eight points before Utah went on 12-2 run near the end of the half to take a two-point lead. Sophomore guard Malia Nawahine led the Utes with 10 points in the half. Nawahine finished the night with a game-high 12 points.
Despite shooting just 33.3 percent in the first half, ASU led by three at halftime, after junior guard Promise Amukamara knocked down a three-pointer with eight seconds to go in the half.
“I thought that gave us a little bit of momentum going in,” ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “I could see, kind of a sense of a little bit of disappointment at halftime.”
ASU pulled away quickly in the second half, keeping Utah from hitting a field goal for the first five minutes of the half. The Sun Devils forced the Utes to shoot 18.2 percent for the second half.
“I did feel like Kelsey (Moos) and Eliza (Normen) really took a step today on their defense,” Turner Thorne said.
Utah senior forward Michelle Plouffe, who scored 22 points in the first meeting, was limited to just 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
“We made Plouffe’s touches hard,” Turner Thorne said. “That poor kid, Michelle Plouffe is one of the best players in the conference.”
In the final home game of their career, redshirt seniors Joy Burke and Deja Mann, and senior Adrianne Thomas exited the game with just over two minutes left in the game and were given a standing ovation by the Sun Devil crowd.
“You get attached to the fans, the band (and) the crowd,” Burke said. “It’s like being at home.”
“It’s just wonderful to be able to honor the day,” Turner Thorne said. “Obviously, we have a lot that we’re playing for right now, but most importantly, was just to send the seniors out with a win.”
“It’s kind of surreal,” Burke said. “When you’re an underclassman, you just want to play hard to honor the seniors, but when you’re actually in the moment of it, you realize this is the last time we’re in front of this crowd.”
Burke scored a team-high 11 points, and Mann chipped in 10 points of her own.
The Sun Devils finish the year with a 13-1 home record, their only loss coming to No. 5 Stanford in mid-January.
ASU will travel to Eugene, Ore. to face off with the Oregon Ducks on Friday, Feb. 28. The Sun Devils won the first matchup 97-94 in Wells Fargo Arena.
You can reach Zac Pacleb on Twitter @ZacPacleb or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org