(Photo Credit: Steve Rodriguez/Sun Devil Athletics)
The No. 19 Arizona State Sun Devils (15-2, 4-1) overcame a blistering start from No. 15 California (12-4, 4-1) to pick up a big home victory Friday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena, 68-59.
The Golden Bears, a Final Four team from a year ago, raced out to a 10-2 lead as junior forward Reshanda Gray scored the first eight points of the game, en route to her 16 points (tied for the team lead), along with senior guard Afure Jemerigbe.
Sun Devil head coach Charli Turner Thorne took an early timeout to calm her team down, and from then on ASU started to work into a groove.
Sophie Brunner’s layup about 13 minutes into the contest gave Arizona State their first lead of the game, 16-15, and the two teams traded the lead back and forth until halftime. The Sun Devils led by as many as four, but Mikayla Lyles’ buzzer beating three-pointer cut the lead to one and gave Cal momentum heading into halftime.
Two of the Golden Bears’ standout juniors, Gray and point guard Brittany Boyd, both battled foul trouble throughout the contest, and the Sun Devils took advantage of the times when they were on the bench.
In the second half, Boyd picked up her fourth foul a little over nine minutes in, and when she went to the bench, ASU was able to extend their lead to nine, capped by a Katie Hempen three-pointer.
Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb took a risk when she put Boyd back in with those four fouls just past the eight-minute mark left in the game, and the move paid off as the Golden Bears cut the ASU lead to as little as six three times in the ensuing few minutes.
But in the end, California could not get that critical basket to get within one possession. Boyd picked up her fifth foul on a charging call with 2:08 left that just about sealed the deal. She finished the game with 11 points, six rebounds and two assists.
Like last Sunday against UCLA, the Sun Devils had trouble closing the game out at the charity stripe, and missed several free throws that kept the Golden Bears hanging around. But the lead proved to be too much to overcome.
Arizona State shot just 56 percent from the free-throw line throughout the game, but Turner Thorne told the PAC-12 Digital crew postgame that she’s confident they’ll get that issue resolved promptly.
The Sun Devils were led by the surprising play of freshman center Quinn Dornstauder, who led the team with a career high 13 points. Promise Amukamara and Deja Mann each reached double figures as well, with 11 and 10 points respectively.
With the win, ASU remains undefeated at home this season, and as a result also handed Lindsay Gottlieb her first conference loss to a team outside the state of California in her two-plus seasons at the helm.
Arizona State will look to pick up another statement win on Monday at Wells Fargo Arena, when they take on No. 4 Stanford at 5:00 pm MT on the Pac-12 Networks.
You can reach Alex Gallant via email at Alex.Gallant@asu.edu or on Twitter @AlexJGallant