(Photo: Tyler Rittenhouse/WCSN)
The ASU women’s basketball team defeated the UC Riverside Highlanders 73-48 in the championship game of the ASU Classic on Sunday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena.
ASU had four players in double figures, and sophomore guard Reili Richardson and junior guard Sabrina Haines were named to the all-tournament team.
In addition to the backcourt, ASU junior forward Kiana Ibis was named tournament MVP after tallying 18 points in yesterday’s game against Buffalo, and eight points on Sunday.
“I thought we really controlled the game from the first quarter, which we haven’t done for a while,” ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “It was great to be able to get everybody in, and get everybody some minutes.”
While everyone was able to partake in Sunday’s victory, there was a shadow cast over the Sun Devils tournament victory.
In the second half of Sunday’s game, Haines went down for ASU with an apparent leg injury, and she was not able to walk off under her own power. At the time of the injury, Haines had 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, and she did not return to the game after the incident.
“I am not sure of Sabrina Haines’ status yet,” Turner Thorne said. “If we don’t have her, I would have taken her over the game.”
In addition to Haines’ leg injury, ASU sophomore guard Robbi Ryan also went down with a leg injury of her own. Ryan was able to walk off under her own power, but she did not return to Sunday’s contest.
After the game, Turner Thorne indicated that Ryan was doing fine, and that could prove to be pivotal with a matchup with No. 13 Florida State on the horizon for the Sun Devils next Sunday.
“Robbi Ryan is okay,” Turner Thorne said after the game.
Despite still having Ryan going forward, the possible Haines injury could be a major issue for the Sun Devils. In the tournament, Haines put up double figures in scoring in both games, and she has been one of the team leaders this season.
Pending a possible injury, Turner Thorne still shed optimism about the junior guard, and hopes that she can be available for ASU’s trip to Tallahassee next weekend.
“I always think positive,” Turner Thorne said of the injury. “Sabrina is really a very sturdy kid. She has been very healthy her whole career, so I am staying positive with it. It might be her knee, but we will see, but when she was down that long and couldn’t walk it off. It’s obviously disheartening.”
As for the game itself, ASU took care of business against the Highlanders throughout Sunday afternoon’s game.
ASU shot 48 percent from the field while limiting UC Riverside to less than 50 points and 28 percent shooting. This performance came just a day after the Highlanders put up 95 points in their first-round game with UNLV on Saturday.
“The key was not fouling them and not giving them second shots,” Turner Thorne said. “They shot it really well against UNLV, but I definitely thought we guarded them. We didn’t leave them wide open, and we just took away their points in the paint.”
As for some notable standouts on the offensive end, Richardson dropped 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Among others, sophomore forward Jamie Ruden tallied 11 points just a day after she notched 13 points against Buffalo.
Following a frustrating 2016-17 campaign in which Ruden was plagued with a foot injury, she has returned to the court with a new mindset, and she has made big contributions on the offensive side of the floor.
“Being injured last year was really hard, but I think gave me a new perspective just because I had never been taken out of basketball for that long,” Ruden said. “Just coming back on the floor now, I just try and play every minute like nothing is granted, so it’s just really fun to be out there.”
Among a few of the bright spots for the Highlanders was senior guard Michelle Curry, who scored 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting just a day after dropping a new career-high with 28 points against UNLV. The two-day performance for the senior from Los Angeles earned her a spot on the ASU Classic all-tournament team.
Along with Curry, redshirt senior guard Lauren Holt tied her senior counterpart by dropping 16 points on 6-14 shooting.
Nevertheless, ASU came out with back-to-back wins on its home floor, and it will now shift its attention to a taller task when it travels across the country to take on an undefeated Florida State team.
The Sun Devils have had a rigorous non-conference slate that featured games against tournament-caliber teams such as Wisconsin-Green Bay and Mississippi State.
Whether the Sun Devils will be with or without Haines has yet to be determined. But for now, ASU will take a week to get ready for the matchup with a noble opponent.
“I think no matter who is in, we just always have the same tempo,” Richardson said. “That’s just how we play.”
Tipoff between ASU and No. 13 Florida State is set for next Sunday, Dec. 10 at 12 p.m MST.
“It’s a Pac-12 road game,” Turner Thorne said of the matchup with the Seminoles. “It’s a little longer, and a longer flight, but it’s just one game, so we will balance it that way. It’s our conference—a top-10, top-12 team on the road. It’s just going to be a great dress rehearsal.”