Great defensive performance not enough for @SunDevilWBB in WNIT loss
FORT WORTH, Texas – Despite holding the opposition to 50 or fewer points for the sixth time this season, the Sun Devil women's basketball team was unable to advance to the winner's bracket of the 2021 Postseason WNIT after dropping a 48-36 decision to Rice on Friday.
The Sun Devils (11-11) were not able to carry over the momentum from their last outing in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament against USC in which they scored 43 points over the last 20 minutes, their highest point total in a half this season.
After securing her first career double-double against the Trojans (13 points, 10 rebounds), freshman post Maggie Besselink once again led ASU with nine points and seven rebounds. Taya Hanson added eight points, Jaddan Simmons scored seven and Eboni Walker had six points. Simmons led the team with a game high-tying four assists while Katelyn Levings had a game-high and career-high four steals.
Lauren Schwartz and Nancy Mulkey paced the Owls (19-4) with 16 points apiece.
Besselink scored seven of her points in the third quarter and helped give ASU its biggest lead of the game after a 3-point play put the Sun Devils up 25-20 just over four minutes left in the period.
In a game in which points were a premium, the Owls answered with 6-0 run to reclaim the advantage, 26-25.
Three more lead changes would transpire over the remainder of the quarter, the final of which occurred after a pull-up jumper by Simmons just before the buzzer gave ASU a 31-30 lead going into the final 10 minutes.
With both teams having leads of no more than five points over the first 30 minutes, all indications were pointing towards a game that would likely be decided in the final minutes or seconds.
After connecting on 47 percent of their shots in the third quarter, the Sun Devils suddenly found themselves struggling to generate any offense. Including her basket at the end of the third quarter, Simmons would account for ASU's last seven points of the game.
In contrast to ASU's 2-of-20 performance, the Owls shot 62 percent in the final quarter to slowly distance themselves from the Sun Devils.
Despite its shooting woes, ASU was still very much in the game after a layup by Simmons ended a 7-0 run by the Owls and cut their lead to 37-33 with six minutes left.
The next and last time the Sun Devils scored came when Simmons scored the game's final basket on a 3-pointer with 35 seconds remaining to make the final count 48-36.
The Sun Devils will next face Missouri in the consolation bracket on Saturday at 9 a.m. MST/11 a.m. CDT. The winner will extend its season for one final game to be played on Monday afternoon.
All of ASU's WNIT games are streamed at FloHoops.com (fee-based website). Saturday's game vs. Missouri can also be heard on KAZG 1440 AM. Radio coverage will begin at 8:30 a.m. MST.