Sun Devil WBB opens Pac-12 Tournament vs. USC on Wednesday
WHAT: Sun Devil WBB (11-9, 6-9 Pac-12/No. 9 seed) vs. USC (10-11, 8-10 Pac-12/No. 8 seed)
WHEN: Wednesday at 2 p.m. PST/3 p.m. MST
WHERE: Michelob ULTRA Arena • Las Vegas, Nev.
WATCH: Pac-12 Network/Arizona/Los Angeles
RADIO: KDUS AM 1060
LIVE STATS: Click here
The Sun Devil women's basketball team (11-9, 6-9 Pac-12/No. 9 seed) begins postseason play on Wednesday (2 p.m. PT/3 p.m. MT) when it faces USC (10/11/8-10 Pac-12/No. 8 seed) in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament taking place at the Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. The winner of Wednesday's game will face top seed/No. 4 Stanford in Thursday's quarterfinal round.
Wednesday's game vs. USC be seen on Pac-12 Network/Arizona/Los Angeles (Ann Schatz/Tammy Blackburn/Alyssa Charlston). It can also be heard on KDUS AM 1060. Radio coverage will begin at 2:30 p.m. MST. 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 Sun Devil head coach Maura McHugh.
STATE OF PLAY
• The Sun Devils are coming off their best performance of the season in a 68-66 OT win over then-No. 9 Arizona on Sunday. Junior guard Taya Hanson (team-high 19 points/13 in second half and OT) and freshman guard Jaddan Simmons (15 points/11 in second half and OT) combined for 34 points. ASU posted season highs in field goal percentage (46.7), 3-point field goal percentage (55.6) and tied a season high with 10 triples.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
1. Coming into last Sunday's game vs. Arizona, five of ASU's nine losses were to Top 10 teams. Three of those 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).
2. ASU is currently 35th in the nation and third in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, giving up only 57.6 ppg. ASU is also 23rd in the nation and second in the Pac-12 in offensive rebounds per game (15.6).
3. Junior Taya Hanson (named All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention and Pac-12 All-Defense Honorable Mention earlier this week) is currently among the Pac-12 leaders in 3-pointers per game (third/2.6 per game), scoring 10th (13.0 ppg) and 3-point field goal percentage (18th/34.9). Currently averaging 10.9 ppg, freshman point guard Jaddan Simmons (named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week following win over Arizona) is looking to become the first ASU freshman to average double figures in scoring since Jill Noe accomplished the feat in 2002-03. All 12 of Simmons' double-figure scoring efforts have come in ASU's last 17 games. She has also scored nine points twice during that stretch.
4. 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.
5. Out of 100 starts, 79 have been made by freshmen (50) or upperclassmen who are first-year starters (29).
SERIES NOTES VERSUS USC
• The two teams split the regular season series with each team winning at home: ASU 63-58 in Tempe and USC 65-57 in Los Angeles.
• Jaddan Simmons (18.0 ppg) and Taya Hanson (10.5 ppg) both averaged double figures in scoring in ASU's two meetings vs. USC.
• ASU has prevailed in nine of the last 13 meetings with seven of those contests coming down to the final minute or OT.
• In 2015 ASU had to go to double OT before coming away with a 76-73 win in Los Angeles. In 2016 Sophie Brunner converted a 3-point play with 1.4 secs remaining to lift ASU to a 69-68 win in Tempe. In the rematch in Los Angeles, ASU denied USC's attempts to tie the score twice in the final 32 secs in ASU's 50-45 win.
• The two teams split in 2017 with each squad holding serve on its home floor: USC 65-50 in LA/ASU 69-62 in Tempe. USC won the only meeting in 2018, 77-62 win in LA.
• ASU swept the series last season, winning 63-54 in Los Angels and 76-75 (3OT) in Tempe. The latter win over USC was the 500th career victory for Sun Devil head coach Charli Turner Thorne.
NO I IN THIS TEAM
Five different players have led or tied for the team lead in scoring: Taya Hanson (11x), Jaddan Simmons (6x), Eboni Walker (4x), Bre'yanna 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 12 of Simmons' double-figure scoring efforts have come in ASU's last 17 games. She has scored nine points on two other occasions.
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 on 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 freshman Maggie Besselink's first after missing ASU's first four games recovering from a preseason injury. ASU played most of its game vs. UCLA and the ensuing four without Iris 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 due to injury. After the loss at Arizona, ASU captured wins in its next Pac-12 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, Katelyn Levings and Besselink (second career start). After not playing since Dec. 6, Mbulito returned against Stanford but was limited in a reserve role.
• Two days after its contest vs. Stanford (Jan. 3), ASU learned it would not be able to play in either of its 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 its games vs. Oregon State (Jan. 15) and vs. Oregon (Jan. 17).
• When ASU 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. 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.
• 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 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 rallied 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.
• Despite holding Washington to only 50 points, the Sun Devils were not able to overcome a 21-percent shooting effort in a loss to Washington on Feb. 12.
• ASU had its best offensive performance of the season in a 67-61 win over Washington State on Feb. 14. Simmons (15 points, 6-6 FTs) and Hanson (12 points, 7-8 FTs) both scored in double figures and combined to shoot 93 percent (13-14 FTs) from the line. Jamie Loera and Sydnei Caldwell added eight points each while also tying for the team lead in steals with two apiece. Caldwell (eight points), Eboni Walker (four points) and Iris Mbulito (four points) combined for 16 points as the Sun Devil bench doubled up the Cougars' reserves in scoring 20-10.
• The Sun Devils were not able to carry their momentum on the road as they dropped both contests in the Bay Area, 80-41 at No. 6 Stanford (Feb. 19) and 67-55 at Cal (Feb. 21).
CAST OF CONTRIBUTORS APLENTY
• Hanson currently leads ASU in scoring, 3-pointers (51), steals (1.4 spg) and free throw percentage (83.7) 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 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, who has started every game, became the first ASU point guard to start a season opener as a freshman since 2016. 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 (13-15). Simmons became the first ASU freshman to score 20 or more points since 2007 after accounting for 14 of her game- and career-high 20 points in the second half of ASU's 63-58 win over USC in the Pac-12 opener on Dec. 4. Simmons is currently the team leader in free throws made (82) and attempted (104) and assists (2.5 apg) and is second in scoring (10.9 ppg), FT percentage (78.8) and steals (1.1 spg). She had a career-high seven assists in ASU's win over Cal (Jan. 1). All 12 of Simmons' double-figure scoring efforts have come in ASU's last 17 games. She has also scored nine points twice during that stretch. Simmons was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for her performance in ASU's upset of then-No. 9 Arizona on Feb. 28. She scored 11 of her 15 points over the last 9:20 (last 4:20 of regulation and 5:00 of OT) of the game. Simmons started her scoring spurt with a 3-point play that gave ASU a 52-44 lead with 4:20 remaining in regulation. She accounted for ASU's first seven points in overtime and then hit a free throw that extended ASU's lead to 66-64 with 13 seconds remaining in the extra frame.
• Freshman Katelyn Levings has started every game she has been available to play (18 of 20) and is tied for first on the team in offensive rebounds (2.2 rpg) and is fourth on the team in scoring (5.8 ppg) and rebounding (4.2 rpg). She has scored eight or more points five times and has grabbed five or more rebounds seven times.
• After missing the first four games of the season due to injury, freshman Maggie Besselink has also played a prominent role with starting assignments in 10 of the 14 games she has played in. Besselink, who leads the team in rebounding (5.7 rpg), has grabbed seven or more rebounds five times, including a career-high 13 rebounds (tying the single-game high by a Sun Devil this season) in ASU's upset of then-No. 9 Arizona on Feb. 28. She scored a season-high eight points at Stanford on Feb. 19.
• Sophomore Eboni Walker is tied for the team lead in offensive rebounds (2.2 rpg), is tied for second in steals (1.1 spg) and is second on the team in FG pct. (43.1.) and rebounding (5.4 rpg) and is third in scoring (7.4 ppg) and FT. pct. (77.8). 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 second on the team in assists (2.3 apg), posting a season-high four assists five 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 pct. 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, who had eight big points in ASU's upset of then-No. 9 Arizona on Feb. 28, currently leads ASU in FG pct. (43.5) and tied for fourth in assists (1.3 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 (1.1 spg). Caldwell scored a career-high 12 points in ASU's win over USD (Dec. 13).
• Junior Jamie Loera is second on the team in 3-pointers (13), is third in assists (1.6 apg) and fifth in steals (0.9 spg). She has scored a season-high eight points twice, most recently in ASU's win over Washington State (Feb. 14).
• Freshman Imogen Greenslade has played in 19 games with two starts. 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.
• Freshman Sydney Erikstrup scored five points to help ASU get back into its contest vs. then-No. 1 Stanford after ASU got down 19-4.
• 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 10 of its 11 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.
• Against Washington State (Feb. 14), the Sun Devils had to fend off a last-minute rally by the Cougars after they chopped a 15-point deficit to three with 1:30 remaining. The Sun Devils were able to clinch the win thanks to clutch free throw shooting by Simmons (6-6 FTs), Walker (2-2 FTs) and Levings (2-2 FTs).
SUCCESS AT HOME AND VS. NON CONFERENCE OPPONENTS
Including its 5-0 record this season, ASU is 73-13 (.847) in non-conference, regular season games since 2013. It is also 101-24 (.808) in home games the last eight seasons. ASU has won its last 30 home games vs. non-conference opponents in Desert Financial Arena.
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. Arizona on Feb. 28 – Simmons (19 starts), Loera (13 starts), Hanson (31 starts), Levings (17 starts) and Besselink (nine starts) – had a grand total of 89 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 14.5 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 (a starter in all 31 games last season). Starting junior guard Iris Mbulito was lost to injury in the first quarter 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), ASU was without three major contributors – Mbulito, Levings and Besselink – due to COVID-19 protocols.
AT THEIR BEST WHEN PLAYING THE BEST
• ASU has five wins over Top 10 teams over the last three seasons. In 2019, ASU swept OSU 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 & 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/Jan. 10) & then-No. 3 OSU (54-47/Jan. 12). Most recently, the Sun Devils upset in-state rival and No. 9 Arizona, 66-64 (OT) on Feb. 28, 2020.
• 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. ASU 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.
• 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.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
• A rising star in the Canadian national program, in the summer of 2019 Besselink was selected to Canada's U19 national team that participated in the FIBA World Cup in Bangkok, Thailand. Unfortunately she was not able to play in the tournament due to an injury suffered during the team's training camp. Besselink was ranked No. 23 at her position by ESPN.com.
• A 2020 graduate of Beaverton High School (Beaverton, Ore.) and ranked No. 32 at her position by ESPN.com, Erikstrup was named All-State twice (second team in 2018/honorable mention in 2020) and earned all-league all four seasons – freshman year at Lake Oswego High School and the last three years at Beaverton HS.
• Ranked No. 23 at her position by ESPN.com, Levings earned All-State honors from the OGBCA (first team), The Oklahoman (honorable mention) and Tulsa World (honorable mention) for a senior season in which she averaged 15.7 ppg. for Edmond Memorial High School (Edmond, Okla.).
• Simmons, ranked No. 31 at her position by ESPN.com, concluded her HS career as the all-time leading scorer in Green Bay metro history after finishing with 1,885 points (averaged 20.1 ppg for her 94-game career). The Green Bay Southwest High graduate was named to the Green Bay Press-Gazette's all-century team.
The Sun Devils added even more budding talent to their roster after signing Imogen Greenslade and Gabriela Bosquez in April.
• Joining the Sun Devils all the way from Australia, Greenslade has been a member of the New South Wales U20 Team since 2019. In 2019, Greenslade helped her U20 squad win a Silver medal at the National Championships.
• Bosquez transferred to ASU after playing at St. Edwards University (2018-19)/Blinn College (2019-20). In 2020, Bosquez earned Region XIV honors after playing in 31 games (30 starts) and averaging 11.9 points (2nd on team), 3.2 assists (1st on team), 4.8 rebounds (4th on team) and 1.6 steals (2nd on team).
DOMINANT DEVIL DEFENSE
• ASU has allowed an average of only 57.3 ppg since the start of the 2014-15 season (a span of 220 games). It has held the opposition to 50 or less points 66 times during that stretch (including 13 times the last two seasons). The Sun Devils are 64-2 in those contests.
• ASU has allowed 13 or fewer points in a quarter 36 times this season.
• On Jan. 3, the Sun Devils, who were without Eboni Walker and Bre'yanna Sanders, held then-top-ranked 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 percentage (21.1) and forced an opponent-high 17 turnovers.
• On Jan. 29, ASU held No. 5 UCLA nearly 15 points below its scoring average, a game in which the Bruins escaped with a 60-57 win.
• Despite playing for only the third time in 35 days – the first time since January 3 – and missing three significant contributors, ASU used a virtuoso performance on the defensive end to come away with a 51-47 win over Colorado on Jan. 22. The Buffaloes, who were coming off an upset of top-ranked 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 a Sun Devil opponent this season. Simmons (career-high four steals,), Loera (tied career with three steals) and Sanders (tied career high with three steals) combined for 10 of ASU's season-high 17 steals.
• In 2018-19, ASU led the Pac-12 in scoring defense (58.2 ppg) for the second straight season and the third time in five years.
• The 31 points scored by Maine on Nov. 29, 2019 represented the fewest given up by ASU since Harvard scored 29 on December 14, 2015.
• In historical back-to-back wins vs. No. 2 Oregon (Jan. 10) and No. 3 Oregon State (Jan. 12) last season, ASU held the Ducks and their top-ranked offense 23.5 points below their scoring average and kept the Beavers nearly 30 points below their scoring average of 76.5 points coming into the game. The two teams combined to shoot 18 percent (7-38) from the beyond the arc. ASU held Stanford to 55 points on Mar. 1, tying the Cardinal's lowest point total of the season.
• The 2020-21 Sun Devils have three double-digit comeback wins to their credit, erasing a 10-point, first-half deficit vs. San Diego (Dec. 13) a 12-point, first-half deficit at Utah (Dec. 18) and an 11-point, second-half deficit vs. Cal (Jan. 1).
• In ASU's second Pac-12 game on Dec. 6, the Sun Devils fell behind to then-No. 9 UCLA by 17 points and fought back to take the lead in the fourth quarter before eventually coming up short of the upset in a 63-59 decision. 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. It actually came back to take the lead after falling behind by 18 points in the rematch at then-No. 5 UCLA (Jan. 29). The Bruins would escape with a 60-57 win.
• It may not have been a double-digit comeback, but the Sun Devils showed true grit in the third quarter of their 66-64 OT win over Arizona on Feb. 28. The Wildcats ended the second quarter on a 9-2 run to take a five-point lead into the locker room. Less than two minutes into the second half they extended their lead to eight, 28-20. With Arizona on the verge of opening breaking the game open, Maggie Besselink scored baskets on consecutive possessions. A short time later, senior Bre'yanna Sanders – playing in her final game at Desert Financial Arena – added five points in the span of 39 seconds to cap a 9-0 run and give the Sun Devils a 29-28 lead. Down by three approaching the final minute of the quarter, Taya Hanson (3-pointer), Jaddan Simmons (two FTs) and Eboni Walker (layup) scored seven points in only 45 seconds to give ASU a 39-35 lead entering the final quarter. Simmons scored ASU's first seven points in OT and Hanson's 3-pointer – the 100th triple of her career – put ASU up for good with 56 seconds left in the extra session.
• Last season, ASU came back from a double-digit deficit to win three times: -12 vs. BYU, -13 vs. No. 2 Oregon, -10 at Washington State. In 2019, ASU made its biggest comeback in school history when it scored 20 straight points to end the game and erase an 18-point deficit vs. Utah.
NOTES FROM LAST SEASON
• After finishing with a 20-11 record, ASU extended its school record for consecutive 20-win seasons to seven. It was preparing to make its school record seventh straight trip to NCAAs before the cancellation of the season was announced on Mar. 12 due to Covid-19.
• ASU finished among the Top 40 in the nation in offensive rebounds per game (21st/15.1 rpg) and rebound margin (34th/+6.6).
• 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). ASU held the Ducks and their top-ranked offense 23.5 points below their scoring average and kept the Beavers nearly 30 points below their scoring average of 76.5 points coming into the game. UO and OSU combined to shoot 18 percent (7-38) from the beyond the arc. The 30 points ASU scored in the fourth quarter vs. Oregon tied the second-highest point total scored in a quarter by an ASU team.
GETTING IT DONE IN THE CLASSROOM
• In 2020 ASU had seven players named to the Pac-12's inaugural Academic Winter Honor Roll: Taya Hanson, Jamie Loera, Reili Richardson, Jamie Ruden, Kiara Russell, Robbi Ryan and Jayde Van Hyfte. ASU was also one of three schools that was represented by both its men's and women's basketball programs in the first ever 2020 Bracket for Brains and Diversity study for the Projected 2020 NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments. The study was conducted by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES).
• A league-high and school-record-tying eight Sun Devil WBB players were named to the Pac-12 Women's Basketball All-Academic teams in 2018. The eight awards tied the school record for most student-athletes on the Pac-12's All-Academic Team. The 2006-07 team also had eight (two on first team, one on second team and five honorable mention).
• In 2017 ASU finished among the nation's best in combined team GPA. With a final team GPA of 3.672 for the 2016-17 academic year the Sun Devils finished fifth in the nation (the highest ranking in program history) among Division I institutions in the WBCA's annual Academic Top 25.