(Photo: Scotty Bara-WCSN)
Riding the momentum of a huge blowout win against Illinois State, ASU (8-1) will look to open up the ASU Classic with a victory over Lehigh (7-0).
Contrary to ASU’s aforementioned dismantling of Illinois State, the Lehigh Mountain Hawks head down to Tempe after just narrowly escaping a loss at the hands of a 2-5 Saint Joseph’s team.
But even with the barnburner victory against a struggling team, Lehigh still comes to the ASU Classic with a perfect record that they will look to maintain against ASU.
The Sun Devils on the other hand enter this one with a lot of confidence after setting a new season-high for points scored in a game in their previous contest, where Quinn Dornstauder set a new career high for points and Elisha Davis set her career mark for assists.
Those two milestones are key heading into this matchup because it shows that the bench is getting involved for the Sun Devils, something that was lacking early in the year. And, with the high assists total, it can be confirmed that ASU is moving the ball well, and while that’s something that hasn’t been an issue for them all year, its still good to see them keep it up against poor competition like Illinois State.
But if ASU can continue to unselfishly move the rock around, and receive solid production from their bench, then they should have no problem extending the four-game win streak they have been on since losing to Green Bay in late November.
Look for Lexi Martins to be the main contributor offensively for Lehigh in this matchup. The sophomore is the leading scorer and rebounder for the Mountain Hawks, averaging 16.4 points and just over 10 boards a game.
The Sun Devils will counter with their own stud sophomore in Sophie Brunner. The big-bodied forward is also her teams leading scorer and rebounder, and is always a key cog in ASU’s offense.
It will be fun to watch these two stars matchup at the 4 position, and the winner of this individual battle will give a significant chance to win this ball game.
For an X-Factor, watch out for Quinn Dornstauder of the ASU bench. She is coming off the best game of her career where she flashed all the potential of her tall, and long figure. She knocked down jumpers, showed a few post moves, all leading up to her setting a new career best for points with 16. It will interesting to see if Dornstauder’s performance was just an inflation of stats against an overmatched team, or a sign of things to come, so keep an eye on what she’s able to against an undefeated Lehigh team.
My final prediction has ASU winning this one in a game that is closer than most would imagine considering Lehigh’s athletic reputation. But although it is tough to bounce back from a close and emotional game, the Mountain Hawks are still undefeated, and have outscored their opponents by a 13.7 points per game margin this season showing that they have been taking care of business against lesser competition early in the year.
But I’m sticking with the Maroon and Gold in this one because of their excellent showing in their previous game and the fact that their eight wins have come against better teams than Lehigh’s wins have.