Arizona State (9-1) looks to knock off an undefeated team for the second straight game when they face Northwestern (10-0) in the final game of the ASU classic on Sunday.
In the first game of this tournament, ASU took on a then undefeated Lehigh team and handled them easily, never giving up the lead in an 81-61 victory Saturday. In the victory, ASU had four players in double digits when it came to points: Promise Amukamara, Sophie Brunner, Quinn Dornstauder, and Katie Hempen. Coach Charli Turner Thorne was happy with her team’s offensive production, especially in the second half.
“I was really happy with our second half offense, we were just really disciplined. We talked at half time, out of our 15 touches in the paint we scored on 12 of them. I was really happy with that, we took care of the ball well, shared the ball well, made our free throws.” Coach said after the game Saturday.
ASU will need this kind of offensive production if they hope to keep up with Northwestern. Northwestern absolutely dominated Eastern Illinois with a score of 92-44 in their first game of the ASU Classic, proving that their offense is one that needs to be tamed. Northwestern’s sophomore guard Nia Coffey was one of four Northwestern players to score in double digits against Eastern Illinois, and is coming off of a freshmen season where she averaged 15.3 points per game along with 8.1 rebounds per game. How Coffey fairs during this game will set the pace as to how well Northwestern does against ASU.
Keys to the Game
Start on a Run
ASU has been great at coming out of the gate fast and going on large point runs to start the game. Saturday it was an 11-0 point run against Lehigh, and against UC Davis it was a 12-0 run after tipoff. Not only do these runs force opposing teams to call timeouts early one, but it gives them a huge hole to try to climb out of if they are to get back into the game. If ASU can start off like they did against Lehigh and UC Davis, it might cause Northwestern to try to force passes when they aren’t there and try to hustle and get back into range. ASU does a really good job of capitalizing on sloppy play and turnovers and there will be more opportunities to capitalize if the opponent panicking to get back on pace.
Hold Off Coffey
I touched on this earlier, but Nia Coffey sets the pace for this Northwestern offense, and if she is tearing things up on offense then it will be near impossible for ASU to win this game. There is no doubt that Coach Charli Turner Thorne will have Promise Amukamara covering Coffey on Sunday, seeing as Promise Amukamara has shut down huge scorers for ASU in the past, but she’ll need some help. Northwestern has several weapons on offense, so ASU will need to make sure that Coffey has limited opportunities to pass the ball to those weapons as well. Getting in those passing lanes will help shut down Coffey.
Dornstauder Continues her Streak
Quinn Dornstauder has had an excellent week, averaging 13.7 points in her last three games, and has helped bring ASU’s bench alive. If ASU is to win, they need Dornstauder to have another strong game in the paint. Northwestern will certainly be looking to shut down the paint for ASU, seeing as that’s where ASU gets a majority of their points and Dornstauder along with Sophie Brunner and Kelsey Moos have to continue to have a large presence under the key.
I honestly don’t see ASU’s offense able to keep up with Northwestern, who have broken 100 this season already. I believe it will be a high scoring game with Northwestern pulling on top to remain undefeated this season.