Sun Devil WBB's postseason trip comes to an end
FORT WORTH, Texas – For the third time in as many games the Sun Devil women's basketball team held the opposition to 50 or fewer points. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, their three defensive gems resulted in only one win in the 2021 Postseason WNIT as the they concluded the tournament with a 50-48 loss to Houston in the consolation bracket final of the Fort Worth Regional.
Katelyn Levings and Eboni Walker tied for the team lead in scoring with 10 points apiece. Walker (six rebounds) and Levings (five rebounds) were also ASU's top two performers on the boards in helping the Sun Devils (12-12) edge the Cougars (17-8) 33-31 in rebounding.
Taya Hanson accounted for nine points while Jaddan Simmons added seven points for the Sun Devils, who shot 38 percent for the game. Hanson tied Iris Mbulito for the team high in assists with three.
Defensively, ASU allowed the Cougars to shoot just 36 percent, including 30 percent from long range. Walker tied her career high with four steals combining with Hanson (two steals) and Maggie Besselink (two steals) for eight of ASU's 10 steals. In her final game, senior Bre'yanna Sanders tied Mbulito for the team lead in blocks as both players tied their career high with two blocks each in helping ASU redirect seven shots, its second highest total of the season.
Houston scored the first six points, led by nine after one quarter and led by as many as 12 points, 33-21, with three minutes remaining in the first half.
Layups by Simmons and Sydnei Caldwell and a free throw by Besselink helped the Sun Devils pull to within seven points at the half, 33-26.
The momentum ASU established late in the first half carried over into the third quarter. Down 35-28, the Sun Devils used a 14-2 run to go up 42-37 after Simmons' free throw with 70 seconds left in the period.
Levings helped bring the Sun Devils' offense to life as she scored half of ASU's 16 point third quarter points.
Consecutive baskets by Walker to start the fourth quarter gave the Sun Devils their biggest advantage of the game 46-39 with under seven minutes left.
ASU's offense would suddenly go cold as the Sun Devils failed to score for more than five minutes after Walker's basket. Houston would take advantage by tallying the game's next nine points to reclaim the lead, 48-46, with 2:41 left.
ASU path to the tying basket started on the defensive end as Sanders rejected a shot attempt by Houston's Laila Blair. Sanders' block led to a fast break opportunity going the other way and ended with a layup by Simmons that tied the game at 48-48 with 1:35 remaining.
A layup by Blair put the Cougars back in front with just over a minute left. The Sun Devils had two more possessions to tie or win the game but were unable were unable to convert giving Houston the two-point win.
Monday's game represented the ninth time this season in which the Sun Devils held the opposition to 50 or fewer points.
The bid the team earned to the WNIT represented the program's 20th postseason trip in the last 21 seasons a postseason competition has been held and its seventh straight postseason trip in seasons in which a postseason competition has been held (six consecutive NCAA Tournaments 2014-19, 2021 WNIT).