February 06, 2015

Sun Devils win defensive battle

The Cardinal's being outrebounded by the Sun Devils 44-22 three weeks ago was a major factor in ASU's first win ever at Maples. For tonight's game, Tara declared, "If you don't rebound, there's a seat for you on the bench."

The Cardinal got the message –all nine Cardinal who played tonight grabbed rebounds – and they won the battle of the boards by one rebound (37-36).

But they lost the game by one point (53-52).

The evening began well for the Cardinal. On their first possession, Lili got past Promise Amukamara, ASU's most devilish defender, and scored. The Cardinal held on to the lead for 25 minutes. They led 31-22 at the end of the first half and 42-30 five minutes into the second half.

It was looking like a not-too-difficult win for the Cardinal, but then the Sun Devils seriously ramped up their defense. In the next 7:48 minutes, the Cardinal took eight shots and made none, while the Sun Devils scored 16 points and took the lead 46-42.

With seven minutes left to play, Bonnie broke the Cardinal's scoring drought with her first 3-pointer of the evening. Then Amber made two free throws, Kaylee hit a jumper, and Lili hit from beyond the arc. The Sun Devils countered with two mid-range jumpers and a 3-pointer.

With four minutes left to play, the score was 53-52, and there it stayed until the final buzzer.

In this strongly defensive, low-scoring game, scoring from the field was almost the same – Cardinal 48, Sun Devils 45. But the Sun Devils were fouled 14 times and made 8 of 17 free throws. The Cardinal were fouled ten times and made 4 of 7 free throws – two of the misses came in those final scoreless four minutes of the game.

Only two Cardinal scored in double digits – Amber with 15, Lili with 11.

The Pac-12's best 3-point defense held the best 3-point offense to just 4 of 14 – two by Lili and one each by Bonnie and Bri.

Kaylee led the Cardinal rebounders with 11, and Bird was close behind with nine.

In other Pac-12 action tonight, Oregon State finally lost (to Washington) and is now in a tie for first place in the conference with Arizona State. Cal (who defeated Arizona) and Stanford are tied for third.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

The press conference audio, with Tara.

And photos by Rick Scuteri (Associated Press):

Lili drives past Promise Amukamara
Bri drives past Katie Hempen
Bri gets to the rim
Kelsey Moos loses a battle for the ball
Very happy Sun Devils

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