(Photo: Steve Rodriguez/ASU Athletics)
The No. 23 Arizona State women’s basketball team remained unbeaten at home after a hard fought 59-57 victory over UCLA.
The game would be best defined as an offensive struggle for both teams.
Arizona State missed their first five field goal attempts, and UCLA started 4-5 from the field but missed 21 of their next 26 shots. Both teams shot below 40 percent in the first half that concluded with ASU holding a 28-22 lead.
ASU and UCLA finished the game shooting 40 percent and 37.3 percent respectively, and neither team had any consistent rhythm offensively throughout the contest.
“Not taking anything away from UCLA, I think we just couldn’t hit shots today,” junior guard Promise Amukamara said. “We had to pick it up with our defense, and we didn’t really have a transition game. That’s where a lot of our points come from.”
Head coach Charli Turner Thorne agreed that the team struggled to get buckets.
“This was some of our worst shot selection,” Turner Thorne said. “We forced some shots, we took some tough shots. We didn’t let things come to us.”
The Bruins started the second half on a 10-6 run to close the gap. With 1:45 left to play, ASU senior guard Adrianne Thomas hit a three to break a 54-54 tie and allowed the Sun Devils to run away from the Bruins.
Despite being last in the Pac-12 in rebounding, UCLA outrebounded the Sun Devils 43-40. However, senior guard Deja Mann and Amukamara each grabbed five boards apiece to aid the Sun Devils’ front court.
“Since the start of the game, we knew as guards we had to rebound,” Amukamara said. “We all knew we had to step up and contribute.”
The Sun Devils also had to deal with the fact that freshman forward Kelsey Moos was limited to seven minutes due to illness.
“It was a lot for people to step up because [Moos] really gives us a lot. She plays the most minutes of any post and leads a lot in scoring and rebounding, so it was a great test for us to play without her,” Turner Thorner said.
ASU freshman forward Sophie Brunner came up with a big performance for the Sun Devils, notching herself nine points and 13 rebounds.
Despite the fact that the Sun Devils’ 59 points were their second-least they’ve scored all season, Turner Thorne said she was pleased with the outcome of the game.
“I’ll take that over anything we might be missing – basketball skill or X-and-O wise because this is the Pac-12,” Turner Thorne said. “There are no easy games, and there’s going to be a lot more games that go down to the wire.”
The Sun Devils are now 6-0 in games decided by five points or less or in overtime.
The win is ASU’s eighth at home and 14th total victory, exceeding last season’s total number of wins. It was also the first victory over UCLA since the 2008-2009 season, and no current Sun Devil on the roster had beaten the Bruins before today.
Turner Thorne and her team will look to extend their winning streak to four games when they face the University of California, Berkeley on Friday, Jan. 17th in Wells Fargo Arena.
You can reach Zac Pacleb on Twitter @ZacPacleb or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org