Three important takeaways from ASU’s first round victory:
In their previous three games, ASU was shooting a dismal 11-percent from behind the arc.
The narrative was different in the round of 64, though, as Katie Hempen came out of the gates on fire. She hit her fist three-point attempt, which most of the time with this team is insight to how the rest of the game is going to swing. In the first half alone, Hempen went five for five from deep, and totaled 17 points.
In the second half, their three-point shooting slowed; in part due to the large lead they had accumulated in the first half. Katie Hempen did hit one more three-pointer in the third quarter. She finished the evening 6-for-6 from three-point range, totaling a game-high 20 points.
With this teams shooting woes, particularly their three-point shooting, it’s nice to see them have some sort of consistency in this game. With this team you never know, but if this game gives any insight to how they will be playing the rest of the tournament, this will provide another aspect for opposing defenses to game plan for.
Sophie Brunner’s Offensive Struggles
The Sun Devils 6-foot-1 star forward seemed to be their X-factor and go-to offensive weapon throughout the season; however, she seems to have changed roles late in the season. While she’s leading her team in points per game, Brunner has found herself in a slump as of late.
In this game, Brunner continued her offensive woes as of late, scoring only one basket in each quarter of the game finishing the night with eight points, a bit below her season average.
Brunner’s struggles contributed to the Sun Devils recent struggles, but with Brunner continuing to struggle on offense, the Sun Devils were forced to find another way to get a victory.
The Sun Devils have had their fair share of shooting ups and downs; right now Sophie Brunner has not been hitting as many of her signature shots, and if they want to make a deep run ASU is going to have to continue to find other ways to win.
This may also be seen as not necessarily a positive, but not a bad thing either. This presents an interesting challenge for ASU’s opponents, whereas they never know where the Sun Devils offense is going to come from. In the round of 64 it was Katie Hempen, but in the round of 32 against 7-seed Tennessee, who knows where it will come from.
On top of that, if Brunner is able to become the focal point of the offense and get more of her shots up again, this ASU offense could take yet another step up.
Something that hasn’t been seen much for the Sun Devils is blocks. In the first half of the game, blocked shots gave them a big spark.
With freshman center Charnea Jonson-Chapman coming in off the bench and sending an Aggie to the ground when she came in to the paint attempting to score, and Quinn Dornstauder serving as an anchor on the inside, NMSU couldn’t get many clean looks.
If ASU can continue to incorporate blocking into games, this will take some of the pressure off of the perimeter defenders and allow for more transition play.