Defense, newcomers power Sun Devil WBB to win in season opener
TEMPE, Ariz. – The patented, stingy defense Charli Turner Thorne's teams have come to be known for was on full display as the Sun Devil head coach opened her 25th season at Arizona State with a 71-41 win over Northern Colorado on Tuesday night at Desert Financial Arena.
A pair of newcomers – Jade Loville (18 points) and Ayzhiana Basallo (10 points) – propelled ASU's effort on the offensive end. Both Loville (4-4) and Basallo (2-3) delivered from long range as the duo combined to make 86 percent (6-7) of their attempts from downtown.
Jaddan Simmons added nine points, a team-high five assists and four steals while Taya Hanson and Mael Gilles contributed eight points each.
"It was a good team win," Turner Thorne said following the game. "I thought we were nervous. I thought we just had first game jitters. We came out; we punch hard, but then we're not in great game shape yet, obviously, so we got a little tired and also, we just need to get comfortable being up and not taking our foot off the gas because we did that in our scrimmages, as well. We had good leads and kind of took our foot off the gas.
Stuck in a scoreless spell for the first six minutes of the third quarter, the Sun Devils (1-0) handed the keys to the offense to Loville, who scored all of her game-high 18 points in the second half. At one point in the third quarter, Loville ripped off 10 consecutive points that widened what was already a comfortable Sun Devil lead.
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"It just means so much more," Loville, a Phoenix native and Boise State transfer said about returning home. "I'm playing for so much more. It's great to be back. It comes full circle and I couldn't be happier to be here."
"Jade Loville can put the ball in the basket. I think we're going to be a team with three to four players (scoring) in double digits (each game). I really do," Turner Thorne said. "We didn't really get in a good flow today, but obviously [Ayzhiana Basallo] can really shoot the ball. In terms of our three newcomers, you got a little feel for what they're going to be doing."
Gilles, another transfer making her Sun Devil debut also had a team-high six rebounds to go with two assists.
The Sun Devils went into the half with a 34-18 lead, with their defense posing plenty of problems for the Bears (0-1). The Devil defense, which forced 17.4 turnovers per game a year ago, collected a whopping 32 on Tuesday, matching the number of points ASU scored off the turnovers. Gilles (career-high five steals) and Simmons (four steals) combined for nine of ASU's 14 steals.
The win moved the Sun Devils to 21-4 in openers under Turner Thorne and the sixth straight season they've started the year 1-0.
The Sun Devils will welcome the Minnesota Gophers on Friday night, with tip-off slated for 7 pm MST. Briann January, one of the most iconic student-athletes in the history of Sun Devil Women's Basketball and one of the WNBA's most consistent high-level performers since 2009, will have her No. 20 jersey honored and displayed from the rafters of Desert Financial Arena on Friday.