Sun Devil WBB opens Pac-12 play on Friday vs. No. 22 Colorado at DFA
THE GAME: Sun Devil WBB (8-5) vs. No. 22/23 Colorado (13-2, 2-2 Pac-12)
WHEN: Friday at 5 p.m. MST
WHERE: Desert Financial Arena • Click here for tickets
WATCH: Pac-12 Network, Arizona, Mountain (Cindy Brunson/Joan Bonvicini)
LISTEN: KAZG 1440 AM (Jeff Munn/Maura McHugh – pregame coverage starts at 4:30 pm)
LIVE STATS: Click here
For the first time since December 30, the Sun Devil women's basketball team (8-5, 0-0 Pac-12) will return to action on Friday (5 p.m. MST) when it hosts No. 22/23 Colorado (13-2, 2-2 Pac-12) at Desert Financial Arena.
Friday's contest will be the Pac-12 'opener' for the Sun Devils, who were originally slated to start league play on Dec. 31 at UCLA. Due to COVID-19 protocols, however, ASU had its first six Pac-12 games – at UCLA, at USC, vs. Washington, vs. Washington State, at Oregon, at Oregon State – postponed.
A challenging schedule for a team not only getting used to playing with new one another, but also adjusting to the personnel it did not have due to injuries were the principal reasons for ASU's 2-4 start to the season. After responding to the slow start with wins in six of its next seven games, ASU will now have to deal with the challenge of maintaining the momentum it had established prior to the unanticipated three-week period without games.
Based on its original schedule, Friday's game against the Buffaloes would have been ASU's first contest since a win over UC Irvine on Dec. 21. After learning of the postponement against UCLA a week before the game was scheduled to take place, ASU was able schedule Lipscomb on Dec. 30 in Tempe, a game won by the Sun Devils 70-54.
SERIES NOTES VERSUS COLORADO
• The Sun Devils have won 15 of the last 17 meetings, including the last 13 in a row.
• The Sun Devils used a virtuoso performance on the defensive end to come away with a 51-47 home win over Colorado in the only meeting last season. The front end of the series – scheduled to be played in Boulder – ended up being scratched due to COVID-19 protocols... Taya Hanson (16 points) and Jaddan Simmons (13 points) combined for 29 points for the Sun Devils, who were without three significant contributors. Center Imogen Greenslade became the fourth Sun Devil freshman to start in a game in which ASU went with its fifth different starting lineup... The Buffaloes, who were coming off an upset of top-ranked Stanford in their previous contest, were held more than 20 points below their scoring average.
• The Sun Devils won the only meeting of the 2019-20 season 65-59 in Boulder.
• ASU claimed three wins over Colorado in 2018-19. In addition to sweeping the season series– 76-70 in Boulder and 66-49 in Tempe – the Sun Devils also claimed a win over the Buffaloes in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament (66-49).
• Former Sun Devil Alex Earl (2009-12) is an assistant coach on Colorado's staff.
STATE OF PLAY
• Through games played Jan. 19, ASU has an NCAA Net ranking of 42, one of seven Pac-12 teams in the Top 50 (Stanford - 3, Arizona - 9, Oregon - 12, Utah - 19, Colorado - 31, UCLA 48).
• ASU won for the sixth time in seven games after defeating Lipscomb 70-54 on Dec. 30. Jade Loville, who in ASU's 79-60 win at San Diego (Dec. 18) became the fourth Sun Devil to score 30 or more points since 2000 (34 points/single-game high by a Pac-12 player in 2021-22), paced ASU with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting, connecting on 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. Jaddan Simmons (career high-tying three triples) added 12 of her own, and Taya Hanson chimed in with 11.
• In its last seven games (6-1 record) ASU is... averaging 71.0 ppg, shooting 45.1 pct, 35.6 pct 3FGs and 76.5 pct FTs while allowing only 53.7 ppg. Each figure is a big improvement from ASU's first six games (2-4 record) when it... averaged 61.3 ppg (-9.7), connected on 37.4 pct of its FGs (-7.7), 26.2 pct 3FGs (-9.42) and 69.4 pct FTs (-7.1), while giving up a respectable 57.5 ppg (+3.4).
• Three Sun Devils have started every game: Jaddan Simmons, Taya Hanson – both returning starters from last season's squad – and Jade Loville (transfer from Boise State).
• Jaddan Simmons: Leads ASU in assists (3.1 apg/13th in Pac-12) and FTs made (40) and attempted (53) and FT pct. (75.5/7th in the Pac-12) and is second in steals (1.9 spg/9th in the Pac-12).
• Taya Hanson: Is second on the team in 3-pointers/16) and third in assists (2.5 apg), steals (1.4 spg) and rebounds (3.5 rpg).
• Jade Loville: Leads ASU in scoring (15.5 ppg/5th in Pac-12), 3-pointers (23/1.77 per game/11th in Pac-12), FG pct (47.5/7th in Pac-12) and 3-point FG pct. (48.9/1st in Pac-12).
• Mael Gilles (graduate transfer from Rutgers) has started all but one game and currently paces the team in rebounds (8.2 rpg/2nd in the Pac-12), offensive rebounds (2.9 rpg/2nd in Pac-12), steals (2.1 spg/4th in Pac-12) and blocks (1.1 bpg/t14th in Pac-12) and is second in scoring (10.8 ppg) and assists (2.7 apg).
• Jayde Van Hyfte, the only Sun Devil on last season's roster to start every game in 2019-20, made her 2021-22 debut in the season's eighth game after not having played since the 2020-21 season opener. She has started every game she has played in – ASU's last six games – and is shooting 80.0 pct (12-15 FGs) from the floor.
• Maggie Besselink started the first seven games. She has missed ASU's last six games due to injury and is currently being evaluated on a game-to-game basis. In per-game averages, Besselink is second on the team in rebounds (6.3 rpg) and tied for the team lead in offensive rebounds (2.9 rpg). Her career-high 15 rebounds in the season's second game vs. Minnesota are the most by a Sun Devil this season. Besselink started 14 of the 18 games she played in last season and led the team in rebounds (5.7 rpg/16th in the Pac-12).
• Transfers Ayzhiana Basallo (two games) and Isadora Sousa (seven games) have also missed time due to injury. Basallo is currently second on the team in 3-point FG pct. (38.5) and is fourth in 3-pointers (10).
• Reserves Katelyn Levings (one start/tied for third on the team in rebounds - 3.5), Gabriela Bosquez (shooting 90 pct from the line/9-10), Sydney Erikstrup (scored career-high eight points vs. Marist) and Imogen Greenslade (tied for third on the team in rebounds per game - 3.5) have all played in every game this season. Levings started all 22 games she was available to play in 2020-21 and finished third on the team in offensive rebounds (2.0 rpg) and fourth in both scoring (5.7 ppg) and rebounding (4.2 rpg).
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• Last season's game vs. USC (Dec. 4, 2020) represented the earliest ASU ever opened Pac-10/12 play. Friday's game vs. Colorado will be the latest ASU has played its first league game. ASU is the only team that has yet to play a Pac-12 game this season.
• Currently with 976 career points – 775 points at Boise State and 201 points at ASU – Jade Loville needs 24 points to reach 1000 for her career. Loville over ASU's last seven games: 18.4 ppg, 53.9 FG pct. (48-89), 65.0 3FG pct (13-20), 83.3 FT pct. (20-24).
• The team's active career leader in 3-pointers (127/seventh place on ASU's all-time list), Taya Hanson needs five 3-pointers to tie Briann January (132/2006-09) for sixth place, six to tie Betsy Boardman (133/2000-05) for fifth place and seven to tie Crystal Cobb (134/1989-94) for fourth place.
• Four players have led or tied for the team lead in scoring – Loville (6x), Simmons (4x), Hanson (3x), Gilles (3x).
• Defensively, ASU has given up 55 or fewer points eight times this season.
• ASU has allowed an average of only 57.1 ppg since the start of the 2014-15 season (a span of 237 games). It has held the opposition to 50 or less points 72 times during that stretch. The Sun Devils are 68-4 in those contests.
• ASU has allowed 13 or fewer points in a quarter 28 times this season.
• Including its 8-5 record this season, ASU is 81-18 (.818) in non-conference, regular season games since 2013.
WHERE WE STARTED
Entering her 25th season leading the Maroon and Gold, head coach Charli Turner Thorne welcomed back several talented returners, including veteran players G Taya Hanson (set school record for most 3-pointers per game last season) and F Jayde Van Hyfte (one of the team's top post performers who was forced to miss last season due to injury).
After showing several flashes of brilliance during its first year in Tempe, Turner Thorne's Top Five recruiting class – including G Jaddan Simmons (first Sun Devil freshman to average double figures in scoring since 2003) and posts Maggie Besselink (team's top rebounder last season) and Katelyn Levings (played in and started all but two games last season) – is poised to have an even bigger impact this season.
Add to that a quartet of outstanding transfers – seasoned Big Ten standout Mael Gilles, 2021 All-Mountain West performer Jade Loville, 2020 Mountain West Conference Newcomer of the Year Ayzhiana Basallo and two-time NJCCA All-American Isadora Sousa. Combining the talents of key returners with the infusion of new talent, Turner Thorne and the Sun Devils will look to feature a high-tempo offense to go with the signature, hard-nosed, pressuring defenses that Turner Thorne's teams have come to be known for over the years.
• The first month of the season was punctuated by a challenging schedule for a team not only getting used to playing with one another, but also adjusting to the personnel it did not have due to injuries.
• ASU opened the 2021-22 season splitting its first two contests, defeating Northern Colorado 71-41 (Nov. 9) before falling to Minnesota 66-59 in OT (Nov. 12). Loville (16.5 ppg) and Hanson (12.0 ppg) both averaged double figures in scoring in the two games. Gilles averaged 7.0 ppg, 5.0 rebs, 4.0 blocks and 3.0 steals. Besselink had a career-high 15 rebounds vs. Minnesota.
• Despite a strong defensive effort, ASU was not able to overcome a 30-percent shooting performance in a 55-44 loss at BYU (Nov. 17).
• Coming off a 13-percent (3-24) outing from long rage at BYU, the Sun Devils came within one 3-pointer of tying the single-game school record after hitting 13 from downtown in an 82-53 win over Marist (Nov. 21). Ten of ASU's 13 triples came during a first half in which ASU shot a blistering 59 percent from beyond the arc.
• ASU went 1-2 at the Cancun Challenge played on Thanksgiving weekend. ASU started the tourney with setbacks against Houston (68-60) and No. 6 Baylor 62-52. In both contests, the Sun Devils fought back to get within single digits after trailing by double-figures. In the final of the three games it played in three days, ASU defeated Fordham 58-43. Simmons was named to the All-Tournament Team of the Cancun Challenge's Mayan Division after averaging 13.7 points while connecting on 93 percent (13-14) of her free throws in the three games.
• ASU swept its home tournament, the ASU Classic, defeating UTSA (68-44) and Harvard (91-54) to extend its winning streak to three games. Loville (13.0 ppg), Gilles (11.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 2.5 spg) and Basallo (10.0 ppg, 3.0 apg) were ASU's top contributors in the wins. Gabriela Bosquez (career-high nine points) and Imogen Greenslade (career-high 11 rebounds) both had strong outings against Harvard.
• Despite a career-high 18 points from Gilles, the Sun Devils had their three-game winning streak snapped at Creighton, 69-62 (Dec. 12). ASU shot 47 pct for the game, its third straight contest shooting 45 pct or higher. The Sun Devils doubled up Creighton in scoring (24-12) in the third quarter to take a five-point lead going the final frame. Creighton outscored ASU 28-16 over the last 10 minutes – the most points scored by an ASU opponent in a quarter this season – to come back and claim the win. The quartet of Gilles (8-13 FGs), Loville (7-13 FGs), Simmons (5-10 FGs) and Van Hyfte (4-6 FGs) combined to hit 57 pct (24-42) of their shots.
• On Dec. 18, Jade Loville became the fourth Sun Devil women's basketball player to score 30 or more points since 2000, as the 2021 All-Mountain West honoree dropped 34 points (most in the Pac-12 as of Dec. 28) in ASU's 79-60 win over San Diego.
• The Sun Devils were originally scheduled to open Pac-12 play contests at UCLA (Dec. 31) and at USC (Jan. 2). On Dec. 24, it was announced the first half of ASU's road trip to Los Angeles had been postponed. ASU announced on Dec. 28 it reached an agreement to play Lipscomb on Dec. 30 in Tempe (ASU won 70-54). On Dec. 29, it was announced the second half of ASU's trip to the City of Angles would not be happening, either. ASU would go on to have its next four contests – vs. UW and WSU, at UO and OSU – postponed.
WELCOME TO TEMPE
The Sun Devils added a quartet of talented and experienced transfers in the offseason who head coach Charli Turner Thorne feels has the potential to have a major impact this season. Three of the four transferred in April with 2020 Mountain West Conference Newcomer of the Year Ayzhiana Basallo being the first to officially join the program. Basallo, a 5-5 guard who will have two years of eligibility, arrived at ASU from San Jose State where she earned her degree in communication earlier this year. In her only full season at San Jose State – did not play in 2018-19 due to NCAA transfer rules and SJSU's 2020-21 season was canceled after only four games due to COVID-19 – Basallo earned the Mountain West Conference's Newcomer of the Year award for a season in which she averaged a team-high 18.5 points per game while shooting 44.7 pct from the field, 45.4 pct from beyond the arc (school single-season record) and 92.5 pct at the free throw line (school single-season record).
Jade Loville, a 5-10 wing who earned All-Mountain West honors last season, joined ASU from Boise State. In 2020-21, Loville, who has two years of eligibility, scored in double figures 19 times last season, setting the school's single-game scoring record with 40 points at UNLV on Feb. 10, 2021. She scored 20 or more points nine times and was named the Mountain West Player of the Week after averaging 26.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in a two-game sweep of San Jose State (Dec. 31 and Jan. 2).
A 6-1 forward who originally came up through Canada's youth national teams Mael Gilles is using her fifth year of eligibility to play for ASU after spending the last four seasons with Rutgers (started 55 of 101 career games). Last season, Gilles averaged 8.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in helping Rutgers earn its highest seed in the NCAA Tournament since 2012. A starter in all 18 games she played in last season, Gilles notched six double-figure scoring efforts, including a season-high 16 points on two occasions.
In early June, ASU welcomed Isadora Sousa, a six-foot guard who played the last two seasons at Chipola College in Marianna, Fla. A native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sousa has twice been named an NJCCA All-American – third team in 2020 and second team in 2021 – by World Exposure Report. She is coming off a campaign in which she earned FCSAA/NJCAA VIII All-State, All-Panhandle Conference first-team and FCSAA/NJCAA VIII All-Tournament Team honors in helping lead Chipola to its seventh FCSAA Championship and an appearance in the NJCAA Tournament semifinals.
One of the biggest challenges ASU faced last season was overcoming its youth/inexperience as out of 120 possible starts, 95 were made by freshmen (62) or upperclassmen who were first-year starters (33). In addition to the talent they brought, just as important is the experience as Gilles (56/104), Loville (87/23) and Basallo (60/33) brought a combined 224 games of NCAA D1 playing experience, including 139 starts.
YVONNE SANCHEZ JOINS CHARLI TURNER THORNE'S COACHING STAFF
Last April Yvonne Sanchez – a coach with more than 30 years of experience both as an assistant and head coach – joined Charli Turner Thorne's staff as assistant coach at ASU. Sanchez came to Tempe from the University of Michigan where she spent the last three seasons as assistant coach. While in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines won nearly 70 percent of their games and earned a pair of bids to the NCAA Tournament (Michigan would likely have also been a 2020 NCAA Tournament participant had the postseason not been canceled due to the pandemic). In 2021, the Wolverines earned their highest NCAA Tournament seed ever (No. 6) and reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history with wins over No. 11 seed Florida Gulf Coast and No. 3 seed Tennessee. Michigan fell just short of its first Elite Eight after being edged by No. 2 seed Baylor in overtime, 78-75.
Sanchez was on staff at the University of New Mexico from 2000-2016, spending the last five seasons of her tenure as head coach. She amassed 77 victories as head coach and was named the 2014-15 Mountain West Coach of the Year after winning a school-record 14 conference games. In her first season as head coach, the Lobos reached the Mountain West Conference championship game. She would duplicate the feat in 2015 when the Lobos went 21-13. During her time as an assistant coach (2000-08) and associate head coach (2008-11), the Lobos won two Mountain West regular-season titles and five conference tournament crowns and made seven NCAA Tournament appearances. New Mexico won 239 games from 2000-2011, highlighted by the program's only NCAA Sweet 16 appearance, in 2003.
NEWS FROM SIGNING DAY
On Nov. 10, 2021, Charli Turner Thorne announced local superstar Trayanna Crisp, rated a four-star and Top 100 student-athlete by ESPN.com, signed a national letter of intent to study and play basketball at Arizona State.
A five-foot-eight combo guard who is rated No. 20 in the nation at her position by ESPN.com, Crisp will continue to play in front of the hometown fans that witnessed her win state championships as a freshman and sophomore while playing for Goodyear Millennium High School. A first-team all-region selection, most recently Crisp averaged 14.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists in helping lead PHH Prep to the Grind Session girls basketball world championship. As a sophomore, Crisp, who has returned to Millennium for her senior season, was recognized as the 5A offensive player of the year for per-game contributions of 14.8 points, 3.6 steals, 3.0 assists 4.2 rebounds while shooting 49 percent from the field.
Crisp's impact with Millennium was as sudden as it was superb as she contributed 9.7 points, 2.6 assists and 2.4 steals per game as a freshman in helping Millennium win the first of consecutive state titles.