@SunDevilWBB’s comeback falls short against No. 9 UCLA
TEMPE – The Arizona State women's basketball team rallied from 17 points down to tie and eventually take the lead, but was unable to come away with an upset of No. 9 UCLA on Sunday as the Bruins hit a pair of critical 3-pointers and two free throws down the stretch to escape with a 63-59 win on Sunday.
The Sun Devils (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) were attempting to start their season with five straight wins for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign. Sophomore Eboni Walker led ASU with 12 points while freshmen Jaddan Simmons (10 points), Katelyn Levings (nine points) and Maggie Besselink (eight points) combined for 27 points.
Walker (5-8 FGs), Levings (4-4 FGs) and Simmons (3-6 FGs) combined to shoot 67 percent from the floor (12-18 FGs).
The Bruins (2-1, 1-1) outrebounded ASU 39-30 and made the most of their opportunities, scoring 22 points off turnovers, 17 second chance points and adding 18 more points from the foul line where they hit 86 percent of their attempts (18-21).
Despite all that was going against them and also playing without starting guard Iris Mbulito for much of the game, the Sun Devils, who at one point trailed by 17, found themselves tied at 55-55 after two free throws by Bre'yanna Sanders with 2:40 remaining.
Lindsey Corsaro, who tied for the team lead with 14 points, knocked down her second 3-pointer of the quarter to put UCLA up 58-55.
A layup by Simmons got ASU back within one with 1:22 remaining, but Corsaro came back with her third 3-pointer of the quarter on the opposite end to give the Bruins a 61-57 lead.
Levings' bucket once again made it a one-possession game, 61-59. After getting a defensive stop, the Devils had a chance to tie or take the lead but were forced into a turnover. After a succession of fouls did not yield any steals, the Bruins put the game out of reach with a pair of free throws with three seconds left.
Besselink, who made her Sun Devil debut on Sunday, led ASU with six rebounds. Junior Taya Hanson and sophomore Sydnei Caldwell both accounted for eight points. Caldwell (career-high four assists) and Simmons (three assists) combined for seven assists and only one turnover. Caldwell also added a career-high four steals.
Neither team was especially efficient shooting the ball in the opening quarter. The Bruins hit 41 percent of their shots while ASU was 38 percent from the floor. UCLA ended up doubling up the Sun Devils, 22-11, after 10 minutes due in large part to the Bruins' performance at the foul line where they went 7-of-8 (88 percent). The Sun Devils were a step slow early in the game as the Bruins scored the game's first eight points. Sanders' triple got the Sun Devils on the board a little more than three minutes into the game.
UCLA led by 13 after Charisma Osborne's 3-point play gave UCLA a 22-9 lead with just over a minute left.
Five different Sun Devils – Sanders (three points), Hanson (two points), Simmons (two points), Walker (two points) and Besselink (two points) – contributed to ASU's point total in the quarter.
The Sun Devils fell into a deeper hole after a free throw by Corsaro swelled UCLA's lead to 29-12 less than three minutes into the second quarter.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Caldwell and Walker sparked ASU's offense as the Sun Devils got back into the game with a 14-2 run that cut their deficit to 31-26 after a triple by Hanson with 1:36 remaining in the half.
The Bruins scored the last four points of the quarter to take a 35-26 lead at the half.
The Sun Devils displayed their tremendous resilience in the third quarter. After once again facing a double-digit deficit early in the second half, the Sun Devils hung tough and stayed within striking distance. Trailing by eight with 2:30 left in the third quarter, the Sun Devils struck with swift effectiveness as they closed the quarter with a 10-2 run to knot the score at 47-47 going into the fourth quarter.
A basket Simmons seven seconds into the final frame gave ASU its first lead of the game, 49-47. The Sun Devils led by as many as three after Walker scored to make the count 53-50 with under five minutes remaining.
Corsaro returned the lead to the Bruins after connecting from long range to put UCLA up 55-53 with 3:11 remaining.
Up next for the Sun Devils is a second consecutive Top 10 assignment when they travel to Tucson to face No. 7 Arizona on Thursday (4 p.m. MST). The game can be seen on Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Arizona.