(Photo: Brooke Faber/WCSN)
Katie Hempen, Arizona State’s leading scorer for much of the season, has been in a slump lately, averaging just 7.4 points per game over the past five games. Not only did Hempen break out of her slump, but she was the catalyst to a dominant 74-55 NCAA Tournament victory over Ohio, pouring in a game-high 23 points on the night.
“Practice is what really helped me,” said Hempen. “I went through kind of a little slump for a little bit…I think our teammates were helpful, just their support is amazing.”
Hempen’s 23 points were a new career high for the junior guard, but she’s more than used to being the one to put up the tough shots.
“It’s funny, because they always joke with me about how every time I catch the ball I’m going to shoot it, but that’s alright,” said Hempen. “It all works out.”
It definitely worked out on Saturday afternoon as Hempen went 6-11 from the field including 5-9 from beyond the arc, much higher than her normal mark of 38.2 percent from the floor.
The Sun Devils had gone a few games without having a real dominating performance for the entire game, but behind Hempen’s lights out shooting, they were able to control the game the whole way through.
Because Hempen was able to hit so many shots at such a high level of efficiency, the Ohio defense had trouble stopping Arizona State in the half court.
Hempen is no stranger to scoring, especially from deep as she broke the Arizona State record for three-point shots made in a season earlier this year. Coach Charli Turner Thorne has said in the past that Hempen is always given the “green light” to shoot the ball and continued to praise the sharpshooter following Saturday’s matchup.
“I think she’s right up there at the top,” Turner Thorne said of where Hempen ranks amongst the all-time great Sun Devil shooters.
“She works at it…Katie, you saw her at mid-range. It’s exciting to see her game develop. She’s not just a three point shooter. So I think that makes it more impressive what she’s doing for us. I think she has a chance to be our all-time best. And I know she has the work ethic.”
With questions looming of whether or not Arizona State would be able to play a complete game, the Sun Devils proved that it would not be an issue. As the NCAA Tournament churns on, this ASU team looks poised to make a deep run into the Big Dance.