(Photo: Tyler Rittenhouse/WCSN)
In a matchup that came down to the final seconds of play, University of Utah escaped with the victory, 58-56, over No. 22 ASU women’s basketball on Friday in Tempe.
ASU had an opportunity to tie the game at the end as it trailed 56-53. The Sun Devils opted for a chance to tie with a Robbi Ryan three that was off the mark. Despite the miss, Ryan led ASU with 16 points and was crucial for the Sun Devils to keep the game close throughout.
After the missed shot attempt, Tori Williams, who had 10 points on the night, hit two from the charity stripe to extend the lead for the Utes. Reili Richardson was able to knock down a half-court shot at the buzzer, but it wasn’t enough for the Sun Devils.
“We’re in a tough stretch right now. We just have to play ourselves out of it. I know that we know how to. We’ll figure it out and get back to playing Sun Devil basketball,” ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said.
The game was a tale of two quarters for ASU as it struggled to score in the first quarter, shooting a mere 18% from the floor, and struggled to defend the Utes in the fourth quarter as the Sun Devils allowed nearly half of Utah’s points (26) in the final period.
The big fourth quarter began right away for the Utes as they jumped out with an 8-0 run to cut the lead to three and continued to keep the game close down the stretch.
The beginning of the end for the Sun Devils came with 1:20 remaining in the game as they allowed three offensive rebounds on one possession. The lead was cut to two on the possession.
Utah came out of the gates firing as it jumped out to a 10-0 run in the quarter behind a combination of scoring inside from Emily Potter and Megan Huff.
The duo caused a multitude of problems for the Sun Devils throughout the game as Huff finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds while Potter finished 9 points and 3 blocks for the Utes.
“With an 11 a.m. start you always suspect it could be a slow start, but I didn’t think we were terrible, I thought we were a little soft on defense and missed shots,” Turner Thorne said. “I was confident we would settle down and at halftime, I was confident we could have a big second half offensively.”
ASU was able to answer back to the early first quarter run by Utah with a pair of runs of its own, including a 6-0 run near the end of the first to cut the lead to 15-9 after one.
The second run was propelled by a defensive effort that forced eight turnovers by the Utes and led to a 13-0 run for the Sun Devils. The momentum was carried into the half to give ASU a four-point lead at the half and eventually led to an 11-point lead in the third before the Utes’ explosive fourth quarter.
With the loss, the Sun Devils now sit 13-6 with a conference record of 4-3 including three consecutive losses.
ASU will have a chance to avenge its first home loss of the season as it will be back in action in Wells Fargo Arena, taking on Colorado on Sunday at 2 p.m. MST.