(Photo Credit: Mauricio Casillas/WCSN)
The ninth-seeded Arizona State Sun Devils held off the eighth-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores to pick up a 69-61 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Toledo, Ohio. Vanderbilt had only lost in the first round once in their past 11 appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
In the first half, ASU found themselves in foul trouble, as redshirt seniors Deja Mann and Joy Burke had three fouls each and played a combined total of 27 minutes for the entire game.
With Mann and Burke in foul trouble, redshirt sophomore guard Katie Hempen and freshman Sophie Brunner made big contributions off the bench.
Hempen scored 12 points in the first half and sunk all four of her three-point attempts for the half. The guard finished the game with a team-high 16 points.
Brunner was a force inside, racking up 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds for the game.
Vanderbilt made a run to open the second half to cut the deficit to two points, but Mann hit two-straight three pointers to stave off the surging Commodores, and ASU never looked back.
Vandy was led by freshman forward Marqu’es Webb’s 18 points and eight rebounds. All-SEC senior guard Christina Foggie scored 16 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Foggie, Vanderbilt’s all-time leading three-point shooter, only hit two of her six attempts from beyond the arc, and was bottled up for most of the game.
ASU’s depth made the difference, as the Sun Devils had 11 players play at least six minutes, while Vanderbilt only had eight players available to play, and four Commodores were on the court for over 30 minutes. The Sun Devils also rediscovered their offensive flow that escaped them down the stretch of the Pac-12 season, as they shot 61.7 percent from the field.
The Commodores let plenty of chances slip away from them at the free-throw line, shooting just 51.9 percent from the charity stripe.
The Sun Devils advance in the aptly named Notre Dame region to play top-seeded and undefeated Notre Dame on Monday, March 24. In their last meeting in the NCAA Tournament, ASU came back from a 13-point deficit to advance to the Sweet 16 in 2005.
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