(Photo: Brooke Faber/WCSN)
After a slow start, it was an offensive explosion from senior Katie Hempen and freshman Sabrina Haines that helped Arizona State (4-3) bury Columbia (5-2) 70-49 in Tempe.
Near the end of the first quarter, Haines hit a pair of three pointers to keep the Sun Devils in the contest, eventually finishing with 11 points on 3-5 shooting.
It was the first time the home crowd was able to really see Haines perform well, and the freshman said that it was a day to remember
“It’s just a blessing,” Haines said. “I’m really thankful that my teammates and my coaches have helped me to get to this point and helped me improve and I hope to continue to improve and help my team.”
Hempen absolutely caught fire in the second quarter, going 4-for-4 from long range to spark an ASU run and break the game wide open.
It was a great change of pace for Hempen, who went scoreless in the VCU game for the first time in over a year.
“As a shooter you just never stop shooting,” Hempen said. “Yesterday was a rough day, but my team had my back, and they had my back even more today.”
Hempen’s sharpshooting helped outscore Columbia 23-9 in the second quarter and lifted the Sun Devils to a 42-28 halftime lead.
The first quarter was Columbia’s best by far. The Lions played the Sun Devils very evenly, scoring 19 points and heading into the first break tied, but lost their rhythm on offense and couldn’t seem to find their shot.
Columbia shot 75 percent from the floor in the opening quarter, but turnovers were the story in this one as ASU’s smothering defense finally began to take effect.
The Lions shot reasonably well at 40.9 percent from the floor, but the Sun Devils forced 21 turnovers while only turning the ball over seven times to turn this game into a blowout.
Offensively, ASU’s offense was much more fluid than in its loss to VCU as the Sun Devils were able to move ball efficiently and find scorers all over the court.
It was a very balanced scoring effort with four different Sun Devils getting into double figures (Hempen, Haines, Quinn Dornstauder, Arnecia Hawkins), with Hempen and Dornstauder leading the charge with 14.
“That’s our area that we really need to get better at and improve on,” said head coach Charli Turner Thorne of ASU’s offense. “We’ll have a great possession and then we’ll come down and just hold the ball and have no flow…It was better tonight.”
The dominant win serves as an important bounce back game following the disappointing loss to VCU and allows ASU to finish third place in the ASU Classic.
“I thought we came out and gave a good Sun Devil effort,” Turner Thorne said. “We gotta get back to working teams, and I thought we did a great job of that.”
Player of the Game: Katie Hempen
This game was very competitive in the first quarter, but Hempen’s offensive explosion in the second quarter is really what got the Sun Devils out in front for good. Despite a lackluster performance the day before against VCU, Hempen was able to find her rhythm against Columbia. She scored 12 of her 14 total points in the second quarter on 4-4 shooting from behind the three-point line and pulled down six rebounds for the game, leading the charge for a polished ASU offense.
Stat of the Game: 21 Turnovers
ASU put on a defensive clinic against Columbia, forcing 21 turnovers in the contest while only handing the ball over to the Lions seven times. Due to the high volume of turnovers, Columbia was only able to put up 45 shot attempts compared the ASU’s 71. The defensive presence of the Sun Devils made certain that a talented shooting team like Columbia couldn’t find their offensive flow.
The Sun Devils will travel to Syracuse to take on No. 20 Syracuse on December 12. Tip-off is at 11 a.m.