Sun Devil WBB resumes Pac-12 play vs. Washington on Friday
WHAT: Sun Devil WBB (9-6, 4-6 Pac-12) vs. Washington (4-10, 1-10 Pac-12)
WHEN: Friday at 5 p.m. MST
WHERE: Desert Financial Arena • Tempe, Ariz.
TELEVISION: Pac-12 Arizona and Washington
RADIO: 1440 AM KAZG
LIVE STATS: Click here
Coming off a non-conference win over Southern Utah on Monday, the Sun Devil women's basketball team (9-6, 4-6 Pac-12) resumes Pac-12 play on Friday when it hosts Washington (4-10, 1-10) at Desert Financial Arena.
Friday's game can be seen on Pac-12 Arizona/Washington (Daron Sutton/Elise Woodward). It can also be heard on KAZG 1440 AM. Radio coverage will start at 4:30 p.m. Veteran broadcaster and the state of Arizona's 2010 & 2019 Broadcaster of the Year Jeff Munn is in his 17th season as the voice of ASU women's basketball. He will be joined by former ASU head coach Maura McHugh.
STATE OF PLAY
After playing eight contests in 24 days to start the season, Monday's win over Southern Utah was just ASU's seventh in 52 days after having seven games (all Pac-12 games) postponed due to COVID-19 protocol. ASU's game at then-No. 5 UCLA on Jan. 29 was the first time this season ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne had all players with non-season-ending injuries available to play. Playing in just their fifth contest in 42 days, the Sun Devils nearly matched their all-time greatest comeback against the Bruins. Down by 18, the Sun Devils came back to take the lead, but came up short of completing the upset in a 60-57 decision. ASU was unable to come away with a split on the road trip after coming up short at USC, 65-57.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
1. Four of ASU's six losses have been to Top 10 teams. Three of those four losses were by an average of 5.0 points: 63-59 vs. then-No. 9 UCLA (Dec. 6), 68-60 vs. then-No. 1 Stanford (Jan. 3) and 60-57 at then-No. 5 UCLA (Jan. 29). The second game against UCLA was the first time ASU was not missing players due to injury or COVID-19 protocol.
2. The Sun Devils started this week in eighth place in the Pac-12 standings. Five of the seven games ASU had postponed were against teams that are currently ahead of them in the league standings: at WSU, vs. OSU, vs. UO, at UO, at OSU. Based on the current standings, the Sun Devils will have three opportunities to face teams currently ahead of them: vs. WSU on Sunday, at No. 5 Stanford on Feb. 19 and vs. No. 10 Arizona on Feb. 28. ASU's other league games are vs. Washington on Friday and at Cal on Feb. 21.
3. ASU's roster was most affected by COVID-19 protocol in its contests vs. Colorado (Jan. 22) and vs. Utah (Jan. 24). Missing three important contributors – starters Iris Mbulito, Katelyn Levings and Maggie Besselink – the Sun Devils were able to do just enough to get by a Colorado team coming off an upset of top-ranked Stanford, defeating the Buffaloes 51-47. Two days later, Utah was able to take advantage of ASU's depleted roster in a 65-51 upset of the Sun Devils.
4. Out of 75 starts, 59 have been made by freshmen (35) or upperclassmen who are first-year starters (24). Currently averaging 11.5 ppg, point guard Jaddan Simmons is looking to become the first ASU freshman to average double figures in scoring since Jill Noe accomplished the feat in 2002-03.
5. As of Feb. 10, ASU 21st in the nation/second in the Pac-12 in scoring defense (55.4 ppg).
SERIES NOTES VERSUS WASHINGTON
ASU has dominated of late having won 24 of the last 31 meetings, including 22 of the last 27. ASU swept the season series in 2015-16, winning 68-61 in Seattle & 77-57 in Tempe. UW was victorious in both contests in 2016-17: 65-54 in Tempe & 70-57 in Seattle. ASU claimed the only meeting in 2018, 61-41 in Tempe. In 2019, the teams had their contest canceled by a snowstorm in Seattle. Last season ASU swept the series, winning 67-50 in Seattle and 72-68 vs. in Tempe. In the latter win, former Sun Devil Reili Richardson led ASU with 17 points and added six assists to become ASU's all-time leader in career assists.
ASU'S PAC-12 SUMMARY
• Jaddan Simmons scored 14 of her game- and career-high 20 points in the second half to help lead ASU to a 63-58 win over USC in the Pac-12 opener fon Dec. 4.
• The Sun Devils dropped their next two league contests to Top 10 opponents (then-No. 9) UCLA 63-59 on Dec. 6 and at No. 6 Arizona 65-37 on Dec. 10. The loss to UCLA denied ASU its first 5-0 start since 2002-03. ASU rallied from 17 points down to tie and eventually take the lead, but was unable to come away with the upset as UCLA hit a pair of critical 3-pointers and two FTs down the stretch to escape with the win. The game against UCLA was Besselink's first after missing ASU's first four games recovering from a preseason injury. The Sun Devils played most of their game vs. UCLA and the ensuing four without Mbulito, who left the game in the first quarter of the UCLA contest due to injury. ASU was also without Simmons for the game's final 26 seconds. After the loss to Arizona, the Sun Devils captured wins in their next two contests: 56-48 at Utah (Dec. 18) and 56-53 vs. Cal (Jan. 1). Hanson tied a single-game school record with seven 3-pointers in the win over Cal.
• ASU came through with a gritty effort in a 68-60 loss to then top-ranked Stanford (Jan. 3). Although it did not produce the desired outcome, ASU – given the circumstances of playing without starting post Eboni Walker (team leader in FG percentage and rebounding) and one of its top bench contributors in Bre'yanna Sanders – came through with one of its best performances of the season. After falling behind by 17 points, the Sun Devils fought back – getting within four points – before coming up short. ASU held the Cardinal nearly 20 points below its season average and became (at the time) the only Stanford opponent to fall by single digits (Stanford came into game with average victory margin of 36.9 ppg). Simmons (16 points) and Hanson (15 points), combined for 31 points for the Sun Devils, who outscored Stanford 56-49 over the final three quarters. ASU held Stanford to what at the time was the Cardinal's second-lowest point total (68), its fewest 3-pointers (four) and lowest 3-point FG pct (21.1) and forced an opponent-high 17 turnovers. The game against Stanford was the second straight in which ASU started three freshmen – Simmons, Levings and Besselink (second career start). After not playing since Dec. 6, junior guard Iris Mbulito returned against Stanford but was limited in a reserve role.
• Two days after their contest vs. Stanford (Jan. 3), the Sun Devils learned they would not be able to play in either of their games the following week (at Washington State on Jan. 8 and at Washington on Jan. 10) due to COVID-19 protocol. It would also force the postponement of their games the following week vs. Oregon State (Jan. 15) and vs. Oregon (Jan. 17). When the Sun Devils took the court against Colorado on Jan. 22, they were competing for the first time in 19 days and for only the third time since their game at Utah on Dec. 18, a span of 35 days. ASU used a virtuoso defensive performance to come away with a 51-47 win over the Buffaloes on Jan. 22. Hanson (16 points) and Simmons (13 points) combined for 29 points for the Sun Devils. Freshman center Imogen Greenslade became the fourth Sun Devil freshman to start this season as ASU went with its fifth different starting lineup of the season. Greenslade was joined by Simmons, junior Jamie Loera, Hanson and Walker. The Buffaloes, who were coming off an upset of then-No. 1 Stanford, were held more than 20 points below their scoring average. ASU scored 22 points off of Colorado's season-high 25 turnovers, the most by an ASU opponent this season.
• ASU's inactivity and key personnel losses caught up to it in a 65-51 loss to Utah on Jan. 6. For the Sun Devils, Murphy's law was in full effect for the first three quarters as they made only 21 percent of their shots (both from inside and outside the arc) and had accumulated only 28 points after 30 minutes. During the same span, the Utes connected on 51 percent of their shots, including 44 percent from long distance where they scored 21 of their points in the first three frames to take a 49-28 lead entering the fourth quarter.
• ASU nearly upset then-No. 5 UCLA in Los Angeles (Jan. 29) after it came back from 18 points to take the lead. The Sun Devils had a chance to force overtime at the buzzer but were unable to knock down a game-tying triple. Two days later the Sun Devils were not able to salvage a split after coming up short at USC (65-57). ASU then had its games at Oregon (Feb. 5) and at Oregon State (Feb. 7) postponed due to COVID-19 protocol with both schools.
NO I IN THIS TEAM
Five different players have led or tied for the team lead in scoring: Hanson (8x), Simmons (5x), Walker (3x), Sanders (1x), Sydnei Caldwell (1x). During one six-game stretch, Hanson averaged 15.7 ppg, including a career-high 21 points in ASU's win over Cal (Jan. 1), a contest in which Hanson tied the single-game school record with seven triples. Hanson was nearly perfect from the line during that stretch (16-17). In ASU's win over USC (Dec. 4), Simmons became the first ASU freshman to score 20 or more points since Dymond Simon scored 24 in a win over Washington State on Jan. 4, 2007. All nine of Simmons' double-figure scoring efforts have come in ASU's last 12 games.
CAST OF CONTRIBUTORS APLENTY
• Hanson currently leads ASU in scoring (12.7 ppg), 3-pointers (35), steals (1.7 spg) and FT pct (85.3) and is third in rebounding (4.4 rpg). She matched her career high in scoring coming into the 2020-21 season (14 points) twice – vs. SFA (Nov. 25) and at Arizona (Dec. 10) – before surpassing it with 15 points in ASU's win at Utah (Dec. 18). She surpassed it again (21 points) in ASU's win over Cal, a contest in which she tied the single-game school record with seven triples. She has pulled down six or more rebounds six times this season, including a career-high seven boards at Arizona (Dec. 10). On January 12, Hanson was named Canada Basketball's Player of the Week for December 28, 2020 – January 3, 2021 for her performances vs. Cal (Jan. 1) and Stanford (Jan. 3).
• Simmons has started every game and Katelyn Levings has started every game she has been available to play (13 of 15). After missing the first four games of the season due to injury, fellow freshman Maggie Besselink has also played a prominent role with starting assignments in five of the nine games she has played in. Simmons became the first ASU point guard to start a season opener as a freshman since 2016. Currently second on the team in scoring (11.5 ppg), Simmons had a career-high seven assists in ASU's win over Cal (Jan. 1). In the first Pac-12 series of her career (vs. USC, vs. No. 9 UCLA), Simmons led ASU in scoring (15.0 ppg) and knocked down 87 percent of her free throws. She led ASU in scoring again with 16 points in its win over San Diego (Dec. 13). One game later, Simmons scored nine of her 12 points in the fourth quarter of ASU's win at Utah (Dec. 18). Her nine double-figure scoring efforts have come in ASU's last 12 games. Levings is averaging 5.9 ppg (fourth on the team), 4.3 rpg (fourth on the team) and 2.4 offensive rebounds per game (second on the team) while logging 23.2 minutes per game. Besselink is second on the team in rebounding (5.9 rpg). She has had seven or more rebounds in four of her nine games.
• Walker leads the team in FG pct. (43.7) and rebounding (6.2 rpg) and is second in steals (1.2 spg) and free throw pct. (80.0). Walker averaged a double-double (12.5 ppg, 12.5 rpg) in ASU's first two contests vs. Stephen F. Austin and VCU. She scored a career-high 14 points in ASU's win over San Diego (Dec. 13) and has pulled down nine or more rebounds four times this season.
• Junior Iris Mbulito leads the team in assists (2.5 apg), posting a season-high four assists four times this season.
• Senior Bre'yanna Sanders had a three-game stretch – Saint Mary's, USC, UCLA – in which she averaged 6.7 ppg and 4.0 rpg, while knocking down 78 percent of her shots. Sanders had a career-high nine points vs. Saint Mary's (Nov. 30). She followed that with a pair of 3-pointers and a career-high eight rebounds while playing a career-high 28 minutes in ASU's win over USC (Dec. 4). Sanders currently leads the team in 3-point FG percentage (46.2/6-13), is second in FG percentage (42.4) and fourth in assists (1.5 apg).
• Sydnei Caldwell has been ASU's top performer off the bench. The sophomore guard leads ASU's reserves in scoring (5.1 ppg) & steals (1.1 spg/tied for third on the team). Caldwell scored a career-high 12 points in ASU's win over USD (Dec. 13).
• Junior Jamie Loera is tied for second on the team in 3-pointers (8) and is third on the team in assists (1.7 apg).
• Freshman Imogen Greenslade has started two games. She had a brilliant outing in ASU's near upset at UCLA (Jan. 29) as she scored seven points & grabbed a career-high nine rebounds.
• Junior Gabriela Bosquez provided ASU with a big spark at UCLA (Jan. 29) as she came off the bench to score eight straight points after ASU fell behind by 18 points.
FINDING A WAY TO GET IT DONE
ASU has had to show its toughness in the second half in eight of its wins.
• In the season opener against SFA (Nov. 25), the LadyJacks got within one point (44-43) with 3:43 remaining. ASU closed the game on a 12-4 run over the final 3:33 of regulation and held SFA to just 2-of-8 shooting down the stretch.
• Against VCU (Nov. 27), the Sun Devils held a 33-32 lead with 8:34 remaining and outscored the Rams 16-8 the remainder of the final quarter.
• In its Pac-12 opener vs. USC (Dec. 4), ASU had to stave off a determined USC squad that came back from 15 down to tie the game two minutes into the fourth quarter. After USC pulled within two later in the quarter, ASU kept the Trojans from scoring over the last three-plus minutes of the game and Simmons hit three FTs in the final 12 seconds to seal the win.
• Against San Diego (Dec. 13), ASU came back from a 10-point deficit in the first half and led the Toreros by two late in the third quarter. ASU followed with an 8-0 run and USD never got closer than five points the rest of the game.
• In their first road win of the season at Utah (Dec. 18), ASU came back from a 12-point deficit in the first half and eventually took the lead in the third quarter. After the Utes got within two points with 4:21 remaining, the Sun Devils dug in defensively and did not allow the Utah to score for nearly four minutes as the Utes got no closer than four points the rest of the way.
• Against Cal (Jan. 1), the Sun Devils outscored the Bears 37-25 in the second half as they overcame an 11-point deficit in the third quarter of their 56-53 win. Taya Hanson led the way as she tied a school record with seven 3-pointers.
• Against Colorado (Jan. 22), the Sun Devils held off a last-minute rally by the Buffaloes, who had the ball down by two with 30 seconds remaining. After Simmons stripped Colorado's Aubrey Knight of the ball, both teams had players diving for the ball as a mad scramble ensued. The chase ended on the opposite end of the floor where Loera and Colorado's Peanut Tuitele battled for possession of the ball. The officials declared a jump ball and the possession arrow favored the Sun Devils with 19 seconds left. After a series of CU fouls, Hanson drilled both of her free throws to give the Sun Devils a 51-47 lead with 10 seconds remaining.
• Against Southern Utah (Feb. 8), with the Thunderbirds still well within striking distance – down by five – with 6:25 remaining, the Sun Devils answered with a 10-1 run. ASU closed the game by allowing Southern Utah to make only one of its last nine shots.
For a variety of reasons – injuries, COVID-19 protocol, youth – ASU has used six different starting lineups this season. Its most recent starting line up vs. Southern Utah – Simmons (14 starts), Loera (eight starts), Hanson (26 starts), Levings (12 starts) and Besselink (four career starts) – had a grand total of 64 starts between them. It included three freshmen (Simmons, Levings and Besselink) and one first-year starter (Loera). Outside of Levings, ASU's other four starters had a combined average of 9.5 points between them. On Nov. 30, head coach Charli Turner Thorne announced that junior post Jayde Van Hyfte would miss the remainder of the season due to injury. Van Hyfte started all 31 games last season. Starting junior guard Iris Mbulito was lost to injury in the first half of ASU's game vs. UCLA (Dec. 6). She missed ASU's next four games before returning in a reserve role vs. Stanford (Jan. 3). Eboni Walker was not available for ASU's contests vs. Cal (Jan. 1) and Stanford (Jan. 3). In ASU's games vs. Colorado (Jan. 22) and vs. Utah (Jan. 24), the Sun Devils were without three major contributors – starting junior guard Iris Mbulito and freshmen posts Katelyn Levings (started first 10 games) and Maggie Besselink (started ASU's two most recent games before its two-week hiatus) – due to COVID-19 protocols.
SUCCESS AT HOME AND VS. NON CONFERENCE OPPONENTS
Including its 5-0 record this season, ASU is now 73-13 (.847) in non-conference play since 2013. The Sun Devils are also 100-23 (.813) in home games the last eight seasons. ASU has won its last 30 home games vs. non-conference opponents in Desert Financial Arena.
AT THEIR BEST WHEN PLAYING THE BEST
• ASU has four wins over Top 10 teams over the last two seasons. In 2019, ASU swept Oregon State for the first time since 2010-11 (first Pac-12 team to sweep OSU since 2012-13) winning 79-72 in 2OT vs. No. 10 OSU in Corvallis and 66-54 over No. 9 OSU in Tempe. In 2020, ASU became the first unranked team to defeat consecutive Top-5 opponents when it knocked off then-No. 2 Oregon (72-66 on Jan. 10) and then-No. 3 Oregon State (54-47 on Jan. 12).
• And then there were the near misses: On Nov. 11, 2018, ASU lost to No. 4 Baylor 65-59, a game in which ASU led by as many as 14 in the first half and led going into the fourth quarter. Less than two weeks later (Nov. 23, 2018), ASU led No. 5 Louisville by six in the fourth quarter before the Cardinals escaped with a 58-56 win after scoring the winning basket with two seconds left. On January 18, 2019, ASU was within two points of No. 5 Oregon in the final minute before eventually falling 77-71 in Eugene. ASU's first game of the year 2020, saw ASU with a chance to tie or win in the closing seconds at No. 10 UCLA, but could not complete the upset in a 68-66 setback. On Feb. 7, 2020, ASU was seconds away from sweeping No. 9 Oregon State for a second-straight season before the Beavers staged a furious comeback, winning the game 64-62 at the buzzer.
• Earlier this season, the Sun Devils came back from 17 down to eventually take the lead in the fourth quarter against then-No. 9 UCLA. The Bruins used clutch shooting down the stretch to win 63-59 in Tempe. ASU was also without freshman standout Jaddan Simmons for the last 26 seconds of the game. The Sun Devils nearly rallied from another 17-point deficit against then-top-ranked Stanford on Jan. 3. ASU got within four points before eventually falling to the Cardinal 68-60. Defensively, the Sun Devils, who were without Eboni Walker and Bre'yanna Sanders, held Stanford to its then 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.
• Most recently, ASU nearly matched its all-time greatest comeback at fifth-ranked UCLA on Jan. 29. Down by 18, the Sun Devils came back to take the lead, but came up short of completing the upset in a 60-57 decision. Hanson helped lead the comeback, scoring all 12 of her points in the second half.