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ASU Women’s Basketball: Second annual “Charli” awards roundtable

(Photo: Brooke Faber/WCSN)

Best Individual Performance (Season)

Drew Martin: Without a doubt, this award has to go to junior forward Sophie Brunner. Despite suffering an ankle injury in December, Brunner was able to come back and continue to lead ASU in scoring and rebounding. She’s one of the most efficient players from the field in the entire Pac-12 this season, and on multiple occasions the Sun Devils have called on her to hit the game-winning shot, and Brunner has been able to responded. She’s clutch, tough, and everything else that this ASU women’s basketball program strives to be.

Tyler Strachan: This one was tough because I think an argument could legitimately be made for four of the team’s starting five. However, the player I kept coming back to when I was thinking about whom the Sun Devil’s couldn’t have survived this season without was senior point guard Elisha Davis. Davis didn’t finish with the sexiest of stat lines when all things were said and done, but the intangible confidence and swagger that she brought to the arena night in and night out was a crucial factor in maintaining ASU’s great run this season. Davis was the spark plug that Charli Turner Thorne could count on to bring it every weekend, as well as the ball-handler that she entrusted to man the helm of the offense. Davis’s 4.9 assists per game was good for fourth in the conference, and considering that she was tasked with running one of the lowest-scoring offenses in the Pac-12, her ability to distribute and create looks for her teammates was even more impressive.

Bailey O’Carroll: While there are a few players who are deserving of this award on this talented veteran Sun Devil roster, no one seems more deserving than junior forward Sophie Brunner. Brunner is leading the way for her team in points per game and rebounds, with just over seven rebounds, and above 10 points per game. She has been the definition of clutch for the Sun Devils, who have consistently trusted her to score the ball in the last seconds of games when they need her most.

Max Bechtholdt: To me, the Charli award for best individual performance in a season goes to Sophie Brunner. This season Sophie led the team in PPG, RPG and FG percentage and was a constant stabilizing force on the team. Two huge game winners vs. USC and Stanford were signature moments for ASU and her leadership as a junior was always apparent. The short-term future is bright with her returning next season.

Best Individual Performance (Game)

Drew Martin: There were a few performances that stood out for me this season, but to me Katie Hempen’s red-hot game against UCLA on February 5. Hempen was 8-for-14 on the night including 4-for-7 from long range, all coming after taking a shot to the face from UCLA’s Kari Korver that gave Hempen a black eye. What was even more important about this game was that it came against a top-15 team in the game directly following their first conference loss of the season to Oregon State. To me, the remainder of the conference season had the potential to snowball into a catastrophe had ASU lost two straight games, so Hempen showing up to play was vital to the entire season in my mind.

Tyler Strachan: While taking in ASU’s 68-56 win over Florida State back in December, I remember thinking, “Man… Has Arnecia Hawkins missed yet?” Turned out she hadn’t, as she finished 7-for-7 from the field with her only miss of the day occurring on one of her seven free throw attempts. The 23-point outburst was far and away the most efficient individual showing of any Sun Devil player this season, and ended up happening in one of Arizona State’s biggest wins of the season. All things considered, Hawkins’ career day will go down as the most outstanding performance of the year in my book.

Bailey O’Carroll: Junior center Quinn Dornstauder scored her career high 25 points, ironically on senior day. Her dominant performance came against one of the best scorers in the NCAA in Washington’s Kelsey Plum, and quite possibly the hardest scoring night of the season for her team who totaled two points in the first quarter. Dornstauder was able to aid her team in moving past a tough Washington team at home for ASU’s best individual performance of the season.

Max Bechtholdt: There were a lot of great performances this year, but I’ll go with the Saskatchewan Sensation, Quinn Dornstauder, against Washington. On senior day it was the Sun Devils’ junior center who had a career day coming off the bench. Dornstauder had 25 points in 27 minutes, adding five rebounds and two steals. ASU fed her often and she consistently delivered turning in an incredible performance.

Best Supporting Performance (Season)

Drew Martin: This Charli has to go to one of the top supporting players in the Pac-12, Elisha “Lili” Davis. Davis is one of the top assisters in the conference at 4.9 per game and has also been the emotional leader and spark plug for this ASU team. Davis leads vocally and by example, helping this Sun Devils’ team to be the best that they can be and become co-conference champions for the first time since 2001.

Tyler Strachan: Although I just handed my Charli award for best performance of the season to Elisha Davis, there is no doubt that Sophie Brunner was the best player, stat-wise, on this roster in 2016. Her ability to score down low while also dominating the glass on a nightly basis was huge for Arizona State down the stretch after she came back from an ankle injury suffered in late November. Brunner finished the year as the top scorer and rebounder on a team that currently suits up with Katie Hempen, the greatest shooter in program history, and Quinn Dornstauder, who’s 6-foot-4 frame allows her to grab boards with ease.

Bailey O’Carroll: This one goes to Arnecia Hawkins. Coming off the bench, she seems to always do the little things that make a big difference. The senior guard has the highest free throw percentage on the team, prompting coach Charli Turner Thorne to keep her in late in games. She is third in assists, and is averaging the second most points per game, tied with Katie Hempen. Hawkins role on this team has changed from a year ago, and she couldn’t do a better job fulfilling it.

Max Bechtholdt: For me this award has to go to Elisha Davis. Lili is not only an excellent point guard averaging eight points and five assists, but is also one of the emotional leaders of this team. Lili started every game this season for the Sun Devils and led the team in minutes played. She also leads the team in steals and always seemed to come up with a big play when the team really needed it.

Best Game:

Drew Martin: I don’t understand how the “Best Game” Charli could go anywhere but the overtime win over Stanford earlier this month (we’re looking at you, Max). After one of the premiere heavyweight slugfests this Pac-12 season, the game ended on a signature Sophie Brunner fade away jumper to beat the overtime buzzer and give ASU the win. There was so much historical significance in this game. For the first time for ANY team in Pac-12 history, Stanford was swept in the regular season for two straight seasons. Not only that, but it also served as a symbolic passing of the torch so to speak. After years of being the little sister of Stanford, the Sun Devils are finally proving themselves able to get over that hump, and this game did a lot to cement that.

Tyler Strachan: You pretty much have to go with the overtime win at Stanford, don’t you? This one had just about everything you could ask for in a basketball game, with the thrilling overtime period and Sophie Brunner’s buzzer beating, turn around jumper that won it for the Sun Devils. Games like that can make or break a season, and the fact that it sealed up ASU’s sweep of the Cardinal made it easily the most exciting and meaningful contest that we saw this year.

Bailey O’Carroll: Without a doubt the game on February 16 at Stanford was the most thrilling. To me this game symbolized a changing of the guards if you will from Stanford being the big dog in the Pac-12 to the Sun Devils, who have won their last four regular season matchups against the Cardinal. The Sun Devils were able to win in overtime thanks to yet another last second bucket from Sophie Brunner.

Max Bechtholdt: The USC game at Wells Fargo arena on Super Bowl Sunday was the best game of the season. The Sun Devils found themselves in a huge hole early on in this game, falling behind by 12 at the end of the first quarter. ASU rallied to tie it at the half and the third quarter was a draw. USC possessed a two-point lead until Sophie Brunner hit a layup with a foul to beat the buzzer. Brunner hit the free throw to seal the most thrilling game of the season.

Best Moment

Drew Martin: I’m going to have to get a little sentimental here. After covering this team for the past two years, the best moment for me was following the senior day win over Washington when ASU’s five dynamic seniors were honored. The emotional music was playing over the loud speakers, tribute videos were being played on the video board, and I have to admit that I got a little nostalgic myself. It was just a great moment to see these hardworking seniors that mean so much to the program get recognized and revel in the magnitude of what they’ve been able to accomplish in their ASU careers.

Tyler Strachan: I’m extremely tempted to put, “That time Lili and Sabrina Haines made fun of me for my white vans,” or maybe, “That time Arnecia called Katie Hempen a diva while Hempen was being interviewed after practice.”

But I’m going to attempt to narrow it down to something a bit more serious…

Actually… Never mind. The white vans thing was really funny. And the sheer awkwardness that stemmed from myself not having seen the viral video that would have given the joke context made it all the more memorable.

Bailey O’Carroll: My favorite moment was witnessing the last second win in Wells Fargo Arena against USC. I feel like a broken record talking about what seems like endless Sophie Brunner game-winning shots as the clock expires, but this was another one of those moments and showed the calmness Brunner possesses late in games to make a free throw that won her team the game.

Max Bechtholdt: It feels wrong to give this award to an individual when this team works so well as a unit, but I have to give this to Katie Hempen’s electrifying performance vs. UCLA. After struggling through most of the season, Hempen broke out for 20 points and broke the all time school three pointers record, doing all of this with a black eye that she was given early in the game. This performance ignited the crowd and gave her some much-needed confidence moving forward.

 

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