No. 13/12 Arizona State Women's Basketball Survives Western Kentucky 67-63

Nov. 24, 2006

ST. THOMAS, VIRGIN ISLANDS - The No. 13/12 Arizona State women's basketball team survived a scare from the unranked Western Kentucky Lady Toppers on Friday night. Despite leading by as many as 18 points in the second half, the Sun Devils found themselves in a struggle in the game's final minute in their eventual 67-63 win in the first round of the 2006 Paradise Jam.

Senior Emily Westerberg led the Sun Devils with 14 points before fouling out with less than five minutes left in the game and the Sun Devils maintaining a 10-point lead (62-52). After Westerberg fouled out the Lady Toppers would go on an 11-2 run over the next 3:19 to pull within one point, 64-63, with 52 seconds remaining. Freshman guard Kenzie Rich sparked Western Kentucky's run scoring eight of her 13 points in a span of a little more than a minute.

The game's deciding sequence came when freshman guard Dymond Simon grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed shot by sophomore guard Briann January. Simon would eventually cap ASU's second chance with a driving layup to give the Sun Devils a 66-63 lead with 18 seconds remaining. The Lady Toppers turned the ball over on their ensuing possession and January clinched the victory by making one of two free throws.

The Sun Devils (5-1) were able to beat Western Kentucky despite grabbing 14 fewer rebounds than Western Kentucky (23-37) and allowing the Lady Toppers to shoot 55.6 percent for the game, including 63.6 percent in the second half. Much of ASU's success came courtesy of its pressure defense which forced 35 turnovers. The Sun Devils converted those miscues in 32 points.

'I liked the resiliency we showed down the stretch,' ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said following the game. 'For a young team in their first road they could have easily folded and they didn't.'

Coming off their first loss of the season to the No. 4 Tennessee Lady Vols on Sunday it appeared as though the Sun Devils were going to have little trouble with the Lady Toppers (2-2) after using a 16-2 run in the final five-plus minutes of the first half to take a 42-26 lead at the intermission.

Senior guard Jill Noe scored nine of her 13 points in the first half to lead the Sun Devils. Also coming through with a strong performance in the first 20 minutes was January, who had seven points on three-of-four shooting with seven assists and no turnovers.

Westerberg hit a pair of free throws in the first minute of the second half to extend ASU's lead to 18 points at 44-26. It would be almost four minutes before the Sun Devils would score again as the Lady Toppers used an 11-0 run to get back within seven points at 44-37 with just under 16 minutes left in the game. That would be as close as they would get until the game's final minutes as the Sun Devils would build their lead back up to as many as 12 points.

The Sun Devils will play Rutgers in the championship game of the Paradise Jam on Saturday at approximately 9:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. in Arizona).

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