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ASU Women’s Basketball: Brunner’s heroics lift No. 9 ASU to last-second win over No. 13 Stanford

(Photo: Brooke Faber/WCSN)

With only 6.7 seconds remaining in the overtime period, No. 9 ASU had possession of the ball on the far end of the court.

After being up at the half by 13, the No. 13 Stanford Cardinal had clawed their way back to force an extra five minutes of basketball on their home court. The game was tied at 61, but with the Sun Devils’ offense looking abysmal since the halftime break, one could wonder, and with good reason, how will ASU prevent this game from going into a second overtime period?

In need of a miraculous buzzer beater for the second time in their last three contests, the Sun Devils turned to the same player that hit a last second shot to win them their game against USC: junior forward Sophie Brunner.

Senior guard Elisha Davis flew up the court and fed the ball to Brunner on the inside, who immediately faded and let go a jumper over Stanford defensive stalwart Erica McCall.

The ball left Brunner’s fingertips with .01 seconds remaining on the clock, and as the buzzer sounded at a packed Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto, found the bottom of the net to give ASU (22-4, 13-1 Pac-12) the 63-61 overtime victory over Stanford (20-6, 10-4 Pac-12).

It was the fourth straight time the Sun Devils have beaten the Cardinal in the regular season, making it two straight years they’ve notched a sweep. Despite the high-intensity finish, the game was not always a competitive one.

ASU came out of the gate strong, shooting 44 percent in the first half and hitting on six three-pointers to take a 38-25 lead into halftime. The Sun Devils held Stanford to six points in the second quarter, one of the Cardinal’s worst offensive quarters this season.

Stanford’s Karlie Samuelson scored eight points to lead the way in the first half, but leading scorers McCall and Lili Thompson were only able to muster four and two points, respectively.

The second half, however, was a coming out party for McCall.

McCall went on an absolute tear, scoring 18 of her 22 total points after the break. She was extremely efficient, going 11-for-14 from the floor and serving as Stanford’s go-to offensive weapon throughout the second half. McCall was also able to block four shots and pull down six rebounds on the night.

McCall’s explosive performance paired with ASU’s offensive ineptitude fueled a furious Stanford comeback, bringing the game to single digits.

With McCall willing Stanford to cut the lead to 53-52, ASU’s Davis stepped to the free throw line with only 36 seconds remaining in regulation, but was only able to go 1-for-2, leaving the door open for Stanford to complete their comeback.

Stanford was able to capitalize on the missed free throw, dishing the ball to the sharpshooting Samuelson for a three-pointer that gave the Cardinal their first lead of the entire game.

On the ensuing possession, Brunner put up a contested shot at the block that didn’t go, and after a scrap for the ball, was fouled and sent to the free throw line with the chance to win the game for ASU.

However, just like Davis had before her, Brunner only hit on one of her free throws, sending the game into the intense overtime period described above.

It was only ASU’s second overtime game of the season with the first coming in the loss to No. 18 Kentucky in the season opener, but Brunner and the Sun Devils were able to keep their composure and stifle Stanford’s comeback bid.

The win is ASU’s fourth straight since losing to No. 8 Oregon State and keeps them tied atop the Pac-12 rankings with the Beavers.

Player of the Game: Sophie Brunner

Without question, the player of the game is Sophie Brunner. Brunner led the Sun Devils in points and rebounds, notching a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. She hit the free throw that sent the game to overtime and hit the unbelievable shot to wrap up a magical night and a statement win for the Sun Devils. It’s a night to remember for Brunner, and ASU couldn’t have asked for a much better performance from the junior.

Stat of the Night: 47-30 ASU

47-30 is the rebound count for the entire game, a battle that ASU overwhelmingly won. Just as they did in the first matchup, the Sun Devils were able to outrebound the Cardinal, not allowing players like McCall and Thompson to get the extra looks they typically do. Brunner and junior forward Kelsey Moos can be thanked for over half of ASU’s rebounds, with both players pulling down 12 boards a piece.

What’s Next:

ASU will return home to Tempe to play their final two games at home weekend at Wells Fargo Arena. They’ll play Washington State first on Friday night at 6:00pm.

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