(Photo: Eliav Gabay/WCSN)
The Arizona State Sun Devils, behind a 13-man rotation, came out the gate hot in its season opener at Wells Fargo Arena, defeating Illinois State 76-40.
“I thought that was nice team win, obviously we spread the minutes around,” head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “We got some good rotations in and I think the thing you should see in this team is that everyone can score.”
The Sun Devils opened up the first quarter with intense defense, scoring 12 points off the Redbirds turnovers and on an 11-0 run.
The team occasionally applied a full-court pressure, forcing a total of nine turnovers in the first quarter.
ASU had a balanced scoring attack throughout the first quarter; four of the five starters scored a basket. Coach Thorne utilized her bench well and they contributed, scoring seven points in the first quarter.
The Sun Devils also caused problems on the defensive side of the ball, showing the Redbirds a mix of half and full court press. ASU was able force nine turnovers in the opening quarter, and score 12 points off the Redbird miscues.
The Sun Devils led 21-12 heading into the second quarter.
During the second period both teams played undisciplined. Illinois State attempted to match the defensive intensity by pressing and they forced nine turnovers in the process. While ASU also kept its defense tight causing eight more turnovers of its own.
Throughout the second quarter, ASU tried to get the ball to its forwards but the Redbirds continued to double-team them down low.
Senior forward Sophie Brunner led all scorers with seven points, going 3-6 from the filed. The ASU coaching staff didn’t hesitate to use its bench, 10 players scored in the first half.
The Sun Devils closed the half with on an 8-0 run and built a comfortable 41-20 lead heading into half time.
The Sun Devils cut down on the sloppy play and started to operate well on the offensive end. The team led by 30 points during the third quarter.
By the end of the third, ASU played its entire roster. The coaching staff was subbing players in by the units.
Illinois State battled as hard as they could but the Sun Devils ran away with the win in the final quarter.
Junior forward Hannah Green played well for Illinois State scoring 12 points, grabbing three rebounds and blocking two shots.
However, the Sun Devils ultimately had too much size, skill and depth for the Redbirds.
ASU’s depth on display
The Sun Devils showed how diverse this team actually could be, the coaching staff played every single eligible player on their roster.
“We feel comfortable with who ever we are playing with,” Brunner said. “In practice we are always playing with different people, so having that deep of a lineup is something that is a big strength of ours because we know we can rely on a lot of people.”
In addition, the bench unit out scored the whole starting unit. The bench was more then productive, scoring 43 points, while the Redbird’s bench only scored 11 points.
Sophomore guard Armani Hawkins led her team in scoring off the bench with 14 points. Hawkins went 6-8 from the filed and grabbed four boards, all in just 12 minutes.
“I am more comfortable shooting,” Hawkins said. “I really just have to give credit to my teammates, I think we moved well seeing the whole court and finding each other. I give credit to them for finding me.”
ASU’s defense was flying around the court trapping and in all in the passing lanes. They were successful causing the Redbirds to turn the ball over 27 times.
ASU turned defense into offense all night, scoring 37 points off its opponent’s mistakes.
The team also guarded the three-point line extremely tight, not allowing the Redbirds to make one shot from beyond the arch.
“The number one thing we tried to take away was their three point shooting,” Thorne said.
Scoring came easy
In the Sun Devils first game they put up 76 points and led by 36 at one point in the game. ASU shared the ball well in route to 17 assists. Scoring contributions came from the whole team, as 12 out of 13 players scored at least one basket.
“Everybody can score, “ Thorne said. “Everyone that goes in can flat out put the ball in the basket.”
This Sunday the Sun Devils will be back in Tempe facing San Jose State at 2:00 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.