(Photo: Brooke Faber/WCSN)
It’s tough to beat a team three times in one season, and despite a valiant comeback attempt, Arizona State was unable to take down Stanford for the third time, losing 59-56 in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament.
Arizona State started off the game well but began to fall behind in the second half, getting down by as many as 13 points in the half, but managed to get on a run behind a pair of Elisha Davis three-pointers and a solid outing by Sophie Brunner to climb back into the game.
Down by only one point, a Brunner shot attempt was blocked by Kaylee Johnson, followed by a scramble for the ball that knocked it out of bounds. After review, the ball was given to Stanford.
Arizona State had only one team foul and had multiple opportunities to steal the inbound when finally a great defensive play by Kelsey Moos resulted in the ball going off of the hand of Stanford’s Bonnie Samuelson.
On the ensuing possession, Davis drove in for a layup that would’ve given the Sun Devils the lead, but was halted by a play-of-the-game type of block by Johnson.
Stanford eventually hit two free throws, giving the Sun Devils one last chance to tie the game, but Davis couldn’t hit the three as time expired.
The loss drops Arizona State to 27-5 on the season, and they will have to wait for March 16th to find out how the loss will affect their seeding in the NCAA tournament.
“There are a lot of good things we’ll take away from this game heading into the NCAAs,” said coach Charlie Turner Thorne.
“I know we’re going to be that much better for it. We haven’t lost a lot this year, so some good learning opportunities.”
Player of the Game: Amber Orrange/Kaylee Johnson
Amber Orrange was absolutely incredible offensively, scoring 18 points while shooting 8/15 from the floor. She also grabbed three rebounds, dished out two assists, recorded two blocks and grabbed a pair of steals. Orrange was especially impressive in the first half where it seemed like she couldn’t miss, getting Stanford out to a halftime lead. Kaylee Johnson recorded 10 rebounds for the Cardinal, but really deserves a share of player of the game simply for her efforts in the last 30 seconds of play. Johnson recorded both the block on Brunner that gave Stanford the ball for an inbound and the block on Davis that allowed Stanford to get back to the free throw line to seal the game. The Stanford freshman made a senior play to save the game for the Cardinal.
Stat of the Night: 31.6 percent
31.6 percent is Arizona State’s shooting percentage on the night, one that was even more disappointing when put alongside Stanford’s 47.1 percent shooting night. The Sun Devils were unable to ever really find an offensive groove, which caused them to fall way behind Stanford early in the second half. Although they were able to lean on 16 points from the free throw line and a couple of big shots from Davis to make the game interesting, the lack of offensive production was ultimately what doomed the Sun Devils in this one.
Arizona State will wait for the NCAA tournament seedings to be announced on March 16 to find out when and who they will be playing next.