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ASU Women’s Basketball: No. 9 Sun Devils dominate the Cougars for fifth straight win

(Photo: Brooke Faber/WCSN)

With “Hotline Bling” by Drake booming over the loudspeakers and a Canadian flag raised up in the tunnels, “Canadian Night” was in full effect at Wells Fargo Arena, with Arizona State’s Quinn Dornstauder serving as the lone Canadian participant of the evening.

Dornstauder and company did not squander the opportunity to honor her home country, easily defeating the Washington State Cougars 61-39 for their fifth consecutive victory.

The No. 9 ASU Sun Devils (23-4, 14-1) asserted their will on the Cougars (12-14, 12-14), putting on an absolute defensive clinic to hold WSU way below their average of almost 65 points per game.

“[WSU]’s a team that’s been playing everybody tough,” head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “We knew that nothing really bothers them and they have great depth, so I just thought we had a great defensive effort to hold them to eight points for three straight quarters.”

The Sun Devils opened the game on an 8-0 run behind three-pointers from senior guards Katie Hempen and Arnecia Hawkins, setting the tone for how the rest of the game would play out.

“It felt pretty good,” Hempen said. “I thought it brought energy not just to me, but to everybody on the court. I thought we started off really well.”

The Cougars were able to find a bit of traction to pull back within three and went toe to toe with the Sun Devils for the majority of the first quarter. After a buzzer beating jump shot from sophomore guard Pinelopi Pavlopoulou, the ASU lead was cut to 20-15 heading into the second quarter.

The second quarter, however, is when ASU started to take off. Led by the team’s leading scorer, junior forward Sophie Brunner, the Sun Devils opened the second quarter on yet another 8-0 run.

ASU forced nine turnovers in the second quarter alone, and with Brunner scoring on a contested layup to beat the buzzer, the Sun Devils took a 36-23 lead into halftime.

The lead was never in question as the Sun Devils were able to build on their double-digit lead throughout the second half, never allowing the Cougars to gain any momentum and completely dominating in the penultimate home game of its regular season slate.

“I think it was our transition,” Hempen said of what made ASU successful. “I thought whenever we would get a stop or even off one of their makes we would push the ball really well. I thought we looked to score more in transition.”

There wasn’t much to be happy about for WSU, who was held to 34 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 21 times. The Cougars, a team who has been the worst in Pac-12 in rebounding this season, were dominated on the boards 40-29 in favor of ASU.

The loss drops Washington State to 12-14 on the season and an abysmal 3-12 in Pac-12 play.

As for the Sun Devils, they’ll move to 23-4 on the year with a 14-1 mark in conference play, maintaining a tie for first place in the Pac-12 with No. 8 Oregon State.

“Oregon State taught us the biggest thing which is don’t get away from what we do,” senior point guard Elisha Davis said. “Don’t give up and don’t stop, regardless of what the score is or if the shots are falling. I think sense that game we’ve had more urgency…and now that we’re getting everyone’s best effort going into the end of February, it’s putting us in a really great position for post[season] play.”

Player of the Game: Sophie Brunner

After hitting the game winning shot at Stanford a week ago, Brunner had yet another stellar game tonight. She recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds while also tacking on two steals and an assist.

In her typical humble fashion, Brunner was adamant post game that getting on the scoreboard was not her primary concern despite leading the game in scoring.

“I have a lot more fun when I’m not shooting the ball all the time,” Brunner said. “I have a lot more fun when we’re sharing the ball and everyone’s getting touches. I don’t like to be that person that just shoots the ball all the time.”

She dominated down low on both ends of the court and was relatively efficient on offense, shooting 6-for-11 from the court. Brunner has dominated and been the go-to player for ASU over the last few games, and nothing changed tonight as she was one of only two people to score in the double-digits.

Stat of the Night: 29.6 percent

This is the field goal percentage allowed by ASU for the entirety of this game. WSU, who averages nearly 40 percent from the field, was smothered by the always-tenacious Sun Devil defense and couldn’t find a good look all night long. In fact, only two players were able to shoot over 50 percent from the game. This allowed ASU to hold WSU to a mere 39 points and thoroughly dominate this game.

What’s Next:

The Sun Devils will host the Washington Huskies in their final home game of the regular season. ASU will be honoring its five seniors for “senior day;” the game will tip off at noon on Sunday at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe.

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