(Photo: Brooke Faber/WCSN)
Arizona State got off to another slow start, but managed to fight back and win a defensive battle against Utah by a score of 46-42. The win keeps the Sun Devils’ hopes of a share of the Pac-12 title alive.
In the first half, Utah was able to put enough pressure on ASU to hold them to just 18 points on 5-24 (20.8 percent) shooting. The Sun Devils had difficulty finding any offense on the inside due to Utah’s size, but were able to go 8-8 from the free throw line and head into halftime only down six.
Arizona State’s offensive struggles continued into the second half allowing Utah to get ahead by as many as 12, but a Peace Amukamara three-pointer sparked the Sun Devils to a 16-3 run that finally gave them the lead.
The Sun Devils led for just 3:21 of this game with Utah leading for 35:41, but huge play from Peace Amukamara and Ayanna Edwards off the bench ultimately got ASU the win.
“I’m just so excited for Peace [Amukamara] and Ayanna Edwards. They stepped up huge for us off the bench,” said Coach Charli Turner Thorne. “I thought our bench really stepped up and gave us energy.”
Player of the Game: Sophie Brunner
While play from the younger Amukamara and Edwards was key to Arizona State’s victory, Sophie Brunner quietly led the way for the Sun Devils in this game. She was the only Arizona State player to score double-digit points with ten and also led ASU with eight rebounds. Brunner was the only Sun Devil that managed to shoot over 50 percent for the game, going 5-6 (83.3 percent) from the floor. Edwards had a huge impact off of the bench, but Sophie’s second-half production was vital to Arizona State’s ability to make this comeback.
Stat of the Game: 21
21: That’s the number of rebounds Arizona State was able to secure in the second half. In the first half, the Sun Devils were out-muscled and just out-hustled by Utah on the low post allowing the Utes to win the first half rebounding battle 18-12. In the second half, Arizona State pulled down 21 rebounds and held Utah to 12. Crashing the boards in the second half was huge for Arizona State and allowed them to claw their way back into the game. The extra effort on the board tired out Utah and caused the Utes to pick up multiple fouls, getting some of their players like Danielle Rodriguez into foul trouble.
Biggest Concern: Offensive Production
Utah’s scoring defense is above average, allowing opponents to score just 59.4 points per game, which is good for fourth in the Pac-12, but it is nowhere near good enough to hold Arizona State to 46 points. The Sun Devils average almost 70 points per game, but had trouble dealing with Utah’s size on the inside. The Utes exposed some minor flaws in Arizona State’s offensive scheme, and it will be interesting to see how the Sun Devils adjust in coming weeks.
Arizona State will face the Colorado Buffaloes on Sunday afternoon for their Senior Day game. Tip-off is at 2:00 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.