Sun Devil WBB hosts Washington State on Sunday in annual Pink Game
WHAT: Sun Devil WBB (9-7, 4-7 Pac-12) vs. Washington State (9-8, 7-8 Pac-12)
WHEN: Sunday at 12:30 p.m. MST
WHERE: Desert Financial Arena • Tempe, Ariz.
WATCH: ASU Live Stream
RADIO: KDUS AM 1060
LIVE STATS: Click here
The Sun Devil women's basketball team (9-7, 4-7 Pac-12) will look to come away with a split this weekend when it hosts Washington State (9-8, 7-8) on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. MST. Sunday's game vs. WSU is the program's annual Pink Game for Breast Cancer Awareness.
Sunday's game can be seen via ASU Live Stream. It can also be heard on KDUS AM 1060. Radio coverage will start at noon. 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.
STATE OF PLAY
After playing eight contests in 24 days to start the season, Friday's game vs. UW was just ASU's eighth in 56 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 its fifth contest in 42 days, ASU nearly matched its 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 are currently 18th in the nation and second in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, giving up an average of only 55.1 ppg. ASU is also 21st in the nation and second in the Pac-12 in offensive rebounds per game (15.8).
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 80 starts, 63 have been made by freshmen (38) or upperclassmen who are first-year starters (25). Currently averaging 11.0 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. Junior Taya Hanson is currently among the Pac-12 leaders in 3-pointers per game (fourth/2.3 per game), steals (eighth/1.75 spg) and scoring 14th (12.6 ppg). Hanson had a career-high five steals in Monday's win over Southern Utah and followed that with three more vs. Washington on Friday.
SERIES NOTES VERSUS WASHINGTON STATE
The Sun Devils have been victorious in 37 of their last 44 meetings against WSU, including the last 10 in a row. The Cougars had won four straight prior to ASU's current 10-game winning streak in the series.
NO I IN THIS TEAM
Five different players have led or tied for the team lead in scoring: Hanson (9x), 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 13 games.
CAST OF CONTRIBUTORS APLENTY
• Hanson currently leads ASU in scoring (12.6 ppg), 3-pointers (38), steals (1.8 spg) and FT pct (82.9) and is third in rebounding (4.6 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 seven times this season, including a career-high seven boards at Arizona (Dec. 10) and vs. Washington (Feb. 12). 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 (14 of 16). 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 six of the 10 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 (11.0 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 6.1 ppg (fourth on the team), 4.3 rpg (fourth on the team) and 2.4 offensive rebounds per game (second on the team). Besselink is second on the team in rebounding (5.7 rpg). She has had seven or more rebounds four times.
• Walker leads the team in FG pct. (42.9) and rebounding (6.0 rpg) and is tied for second in steals (1.1 spg) and free throw pct. (81.1). Walker averaged a double-double (12.5 ppg, 12.5 rpg) in ASU's first two contests vs. Stephen F. Austin & VCU. She scored a career-high 14 points vs. San Diego (Dec. 13) and has pulled down nine or more rebounds four times this season.
• Junior Iris Mbulito is tied for the team lead in assists (2.3 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 (37.5/6-16), is second in FG percentage (40.5) and fourth in assists (1.4 apg).
• Sydnei Caldwell has been ASU's top performer off the bench. The sophomore guard leads ASU's reserves in scoring (4.9 ppg) & steals (1.0 spg). 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 (1.6 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. Washington – Simmons (15 starts), Loera (nine starts), Hanson (27 starts), Levings (13 starts) and Besselink (five career starts) – had a grand total of 69 starts between them. It included three freshmen (Simmons, Levings and Besselink) and one first-year starter (Loera). Outside of Hanson, ASU's other four starters had a combined average of 10.5 starts 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.