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Sun Devil WBB’s comeback falls short against No. 1 Stanford

Jan 3, 2021

vs. Stanford Game notes PDF | 2020-21 WBB Stats | Boxscore

TEMPE, Ariz. – After falling behind by as many as 17 points to the nation's top-ranked team, the Sun Devil women's basketball team fought back – getting within four points – before eventually falling to Stanford 68-60 on Sunday.
The Sun Devils (7-3, 3-3 Pac-12) held the Cardinal (9-0, 6-0) nearly 20 points below its season average and became the only Stanford opponent to fall by single digits thus far as the Cardinal came into the game with an average victory margin of 36.9 points per game.
For the second straight game the Sun Devils started three freshmen – Jaddan SimmonsKatelyn Levings and Maggie Besselink (second career start). ASU entered Friday's game against Cal missing two starters – junior post Jayde Van Hyfteis out for the season and junior guard Iris Mbulito had not played since ASU's 63-59 loss to then-No. 9 UCLA on Dec. 6. Mbulito returned on Sunday but was limited in a reserve role. As was the case in Friday's game, the Sun Devils were also without starting sophomore post Eboni Walker (team leader in rebounding and FG percentage and third in scoring) and senior post Bre'yanna Sanders, one of the team's top performers off the bench.
Simmons (16 points) and sophomore guard Taya Hanson (15 points), combined for 31 points for the Sun Devils, who outscored Stanford 56-49 over the final three quarters after being outscored 19-4 in the first quarter.
Sydnei Caldwell (six points) and Sydney Erikstrup (five points) led ASU's bench as the two combined for 11 points.
Besselink led ASU's rebounding effort with seven while Simmons had a career-high six boards. For the game, ASU was outrebounded 41-30. Although both teams had 13 offensive rebounds, it was the Cardinal who took better advantage of their additional chances, outscoring ASU 15-7 in second chance points.
Defensively, ASU held Stanford to its second-lowest point total (68), its fewest 3-pointers (four) and lowest 3-point FG percentage (21.1) and forced an opponent-high 17 turnovers.
The Cardinal jumped out to a 13-0 lead before Erikstrup's first career basket got ASU on the board with 3:34 remaining in the first quarter. Besselink also hit a pair of free throws for the Sun Devils, who trailed 19-4 after 10 minutes.
Down 26-9 less than four minutes in the second quarter, the Sun Devils came alive with a run ignited by Caldwell and Simmons who scored on consecutive layups. Erikstrup's first career 3-pointer got ASU within 10, 26-16. After a basket by the Cardinal, Hanson, who tied a single-game school record with seven 3-pointers on Friday, connected on back-to-back triples to make it a six-point game.
A pair of Stanford 3-pointers on either side of Caldwell's triple gave the Cardinal a 34-25 lead at the half.
ASU's 21-point second quarter equaled the most points given up by Stanford in a quarter this season.
Back-to-back jumpers by Hanson got ASU within four points, 42-38, with 5:51 remaining in the third quarter.
Stanford countered with a 14-4 run to take a 14-point lead into the final quarter and then extended its advantage to 16 points 30 seconds into the period. Although the Cardinal led by double digits for most of the fourth quarter the Sun Devils refused to give up. Down by 12 after Stanford's Francesca Belibi, who had game highs in points (23) and rebounds (12), scored on layup with 3:17 remaining, the Sun Devils would make one last run. Four straight free throws by Simmons and a layup by Mbulito cut the deficit in half with 1:06 left. 
The Sun Devils got as close as five after two more free throws by Simmons with 11 seconds remaining. Ultimately, the Cardinal made 3-of-4 free throws in the final nine seconds to secure the win.
Up next for ASU is a road trip to the Pacific Northwest to face Washington State (Friday at 4 p.m. PT/5p.m. MT) and Washington (Sunday at 1 p.m. PT/2 p.m MT). Both games can be seen on Pac-12 Arizona and Pac-12 Washington. Friday's game can be heard on KDUS AM 1060 and Sunday's on KAZG AM 1440. Fans can tune into KDUS 1060 at 7 p.m. MT on Wednesday for head coach Charli Turner Thorne's weekly radio show, 'Off the Bench with Charli Turner Thorne.'