(Photo Credit: Brooke Faber/WCSN)
If this Arizona State offense misses Adrianne Thomas or Deja Mann, they didn’t show it.
In their first game of the season against Middle Tennessee State, the Sun Devils let amazing ball movement, up-tempo play, and outstanding free throw shooting set the pace of this 81 – 67 victory.
While the offense as a whole put up a total of 81 points, it was really power forward Sophie Brunner and shooting guard Katie Hempen who stepped up and displayed why this ASU team can still be a dominant force this year. Coming in to this game, the focus may have been on how Promise and Peace, the two Amukamara sisters could lead this offense, but leaving the game, it’s now if Brunner and Hempen can keep up this dominance throughout this season.
Hempen, who finished the game with 14 points, was primarily an outside shooter, hitting two threes and five jumpers. And when she drew out the defenders that left Sophie Brunner open to hit layups and draw seven fouls, converting those free throws and layups into 20 points, and shooting 85% at the free throw line. When Hempen and Brunner were on the court together, they were nearly unstoppable.
Elisha Davis was great on the offensive side of the ball, tallying 14 points in 26 minutes, showing that while coach Charli Turner Thorne prefers her offense to spread the wealth, her players can still accumulate and rack up points, even if they aren’t named Deja.
Although the offense thrived, the defense left something to desire. 67 points may not seem like a lot to give up over the course of a basketball game, but it was the fashion in which they did so that was the issue for some of ASU’s players.
Olivia Jones, who averaged 8.4 points per game last year for Middle Tennessee went off tonight, scoring a total of 19 points, before an injury caused her to leave the game with 5:30 left in the second half. While this was partially due to Olivia filling the gap of her old teammate, Ebony Rowe, another reason ASU’s sloppy defense throughout the game. This ASU defense allowed Middle Tennessee State to put up too many uncontested shots, and collect rebounds without significant resistance. ASU grabbed only 51% of the rebound opportunities on defense, which left way too many second chance opportunities for Middle Tennessee. Second chance opportunities Middle Tennessee State may not be able capitalize on, but teams that ASU faces in the future, like Stanford or Miami will.
Overall, this was a nice start offensively for ASU, however their defense wasn’t were it needed to be tonight and could potentially lead to more than a few losses this season if they don’t pick it up as a whole. Coach Charli Turner Thorne can’t be happy, being a defensively minded coach,and she’ll do her best to whip this defense in to shape as the season progresses.