Sun Devil Women's Hoops Takes Down SFA, 56-47, in Season Opener
TEMPE -- The Sun Devil women's basketball program opened the 2020-21 campaign with a hard-fought, wire-to-wire victory it its season opener, pulling away late to topple Stephen F. Austin, 56-47, on Wednesday at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe.
ASU closed the game on a 12-4 run over the final 3:33 of regulation to pull away from a scrappy Ladyjack squad, holding SFA to just 2-of-8 shooting down the stretch.
Taya Hanson showed an all-around game, matching her career highs with 14 points and six rebounds in a team-high 31 minutes of action. Hanson led the way for the Sun Devils with a +10 plus-minus tally while she was on the court.
Eboni Walker recorded her second career double-double (both coming in the last four games, dating back to last season), finishing with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Seven of those rebounds came on the offensive end, which proved to be key in ASU outscoring SFA, 11-1, on second-chance points in the game.
Walker did all of her damage off the bench, paving the way for a 24-3 ASU advantage in the game on bench points.
The Sun Devil defense forced 21 total turnovers in the effort while holding SFA to just 34.6 shooting in the effort and a paltry 3-of-17 (17.6) from three.
ASU got rolling early with a hot start behind the line, knocking down 3-of-4 three-point attempts to start the game.
Hanson had one of those while absolutely dominating the boards in the opening frames, picking up four of the first seven ASU rebounds.
Jamie Loera scored eight quick points off the bench with a nice lefty floater and back-to-back three-pointers in her return to the court after playing in just one game last season due to injury.
The Sun Devils outscored the Ladyjacks, 14-1, in bench points in the first half.
ASU forced 11 turnovers in the opening half with a combination of aggressive man-defense and getting hands in lanes that kept SFA from getting into an offensive rhythm, setting up three shot clock violations.
The Ladyjacks cut into the Sun Devil lead early in the second half, climbing back within 30-28 with 7:06 left in the third quarter after ASU had led by as much as 10 points in the first half (24-14).
SFA stayed in it though, keeping it under two-possessions for much of the remainder of the frame, with ASU taking a 40-36 lead on Eboni Walker's buzzer-beating jumper heading into the fourth quarter.
The LadyJacks got within one point with 3:43 remaining, clawing back to a 44-43 tally before the Sun Devils pulled away down the stretch.
ASU will continue the Global Sports & Events Tipoff: Phoenix on Friday with a 4 p.m. AZT start against VCU at Desert Financial Arena.
- Jaddan Simmons became the first true freshman point guard to earn the start in a season since Kiara Russell in 2016-17.
- Charli Turner Thorne wasted no time in getting her newest Sun Devils acclimated. 12 players appeared in the first half of the game with five of those appearing for the first time in Maroon and Gold.
- ASU limited Aiyana Johnson - SFA's leading returning scorer last season with 13.8 points per game - to just 5 points on 2-of-8 shooting with three turnovers.