Sun Devil WBB closes regular season vs. USC (Thursday) and UCLA (Saturday)
THE GAME: Sun Devil WBB (12-11, 4-7 Pac-12) vs. USC (11-14, 4-11 Pac-12)
WHEN: Thursday at 5 p.m. MST
WHERE: Desert Financial Arena • Click here for tickets
WATCH: Pac-12 Network, Arizona (Cindy Brunson, Tammy Blackburn)
LISTEN: KDUS AM 1060 (Jeff Munn, Maura McHugh)
LIVE STATS: Click here
The Sun Devil women's basketball team closes out regular season play this week when it hosts USC (Thursday at 5 pm MST) & UCLA (Saturday at 12 pm MST).
ASU will be ending Pac-12 play the way it was supposed to start it: with games against the conference's two Los Angeles-based schools. Unfortunately, both games – at UCLA (Dec. 31) and at USC (Jan. 2) – had to be postponed, the first of six straight postponements for the Sun Devils (all Pac-12 games).
The last time they were in Desert Financial Arena, the Sun Devils were celebrating a win over No. 6 Arizona. The win capped a three-game winning streak which also included wins over Oregon State and No. 19 Oregon. Since then, the Sun Devils have 'lost' four straight games. Three of those losses were decided on the court – 62-58 at No. 6 Arizona, 65-58 at Washington State, 74-69 at Washington – and in each instance the outcome was in doubt in the final minute. In the middle of those contests, ASU also had to take a forfeit – counted as a loss in the Pac-12 standings – after the program decided it was in the best interest of the student-athletes not to travel to Berkeley for a Feb. 16 makeup game at Cal after mechanical issues with the team's flight prevented it from leaving at its originally scheduled time.
Last week's road trip finally started Friday night in Pullman, Wash., where – for the second time in as many games – ASU was in position to come away with a quality road win before falling short in the final minutes. Despite a pair of stellar offensive performances from Jade Loville (13 of 21 points in the 1st half) and Jaddan Simmons (career-high 22 points/19 in the 2nd half), ASU lost at Washington State 65-58. Missed opportunities prevented ASU from capturing the win as it spent much of the fourth quarter either tied or within one possession of the Cougars. Two days later at Washington, ASU, similar to its loss at WSU, was within a single possession for most of the last five minutes. It even managed to pull even with after Taya Hanson's 3-pointer knotted the score at 62-62 with 2:17 remaining. The outcome was in doubt until the final seconds when the Sun Devils were not able to hit a 3-pointer to force overtime. ASU continued to be without Maggie Besselink (has not played since Feb. 6 vs. Oregon) for both games and veteran post Jayde Van Hyfte did not play at UW after getting injured late in the game at WSU. In addition, Gabriela Bosquez, who was having one of the best games of her career on Sunday, was forced to leave the game in the second half due to injury. Simmons averaged 17.5 points in the two games to pace ASU. Katelyn Levings, who started in place of Van Hyfte at UW, scored a career-high 14 points to lead ASU.
The Sun Devils, who were the last team in the Pac-12 to start conference play (Jan. 21) and who have played the second-fewest amount of league games, begin the last weekend of the regular season in ninth place (based on winning percentage). A pair of wins this weekend would get them to .462. What seed they would earn in such a scenario is anyone's guess given how closely bunched the bottom half of the league is.
SERIES NOTES VERSUS 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 LA.
• 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.
• ASU swept the series in 2020, winning 63-54 in LA and 76-75 (3OT) in Tempe. The latter was the 500th career victory for head coach Charli Turner Thorne.
• Last season, ASU defeated USC Tempe in the earliest date it ever opened conference play (Dec. 4) 63-58 behind Simmons' 20 points. USC won the rematch, 65-57 in Los Angeles. Simmons once again led ASU with 16 points.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• Through games played Feb. 22, ASU has an NCAA Net ranking of 41, one of seven Pac-12 teams in the Top 50 (Stanford - 3, Oregon - 12, Arizona - 13, Utah - 25, Colorado - 30, Oregon State - 50). Of those teams, ASU has wins over Colorado, Oregon State, Oregon and Arizona.
• As of Feb. 22, ASU is ranked among the top third in the Pac-12 in 3-pt FG pct. defense (2nd/29.9), offensive rebounds (3rd/13.0 rpg) and rebounding defense (4th/32.91 rpg).
• During the Fall 2021 semester, ASU had a team GPA of 3.73.
• Jade Loville went over the 1,000-point mark in career scoring with a game-high 19 points at No. 2 Stanford (Jan. 28). Loville currently leads the Pac-12 in scoring (18.0 ppg) in league games. She averaged 25.5 points during ASU's recent three-game winning streak.
• In ASU's 3 wins over ranked teams – No. 22 Colorado, No. 19 Oregon, No. 6 Arizona – Taya Hanson averaged 15.5 ppg while shooting 43 pct from long range (6-14). In those same games, Mael Gilles nearly averaged a double-double (10.3 ppg/9.0 rpg).
• The team's active career leader in 3-pointers (139/3rd place on ASU's all-time list), Hanson needs 22 triples to tie Kylan Loney (161/2001-05) for 2nd place. The top spot is held by Katie Hempen (185/2014-16).
• Four players have led or tied for the team lead in scoring this season – Loville (10x), Simmons (6x), Hanson (4x), Gilles (4x), Levings (1x). In ASU's last three games, Simmons has averaged 17.0 points and while shooting 59 percent (16-27) from the floor, including 62.5 percent (5-8) 3FGs.
• The Ls that could have been Ws: ASU was... outscored 12-5 in OT loss to Minnesota (Nov. 12)... within 7 points in the 4thQ at BYU (Nov. 17)... down by as many as 17, ASU got within 5 points in the 4thQ vs. Houston in Cancun (Nov. 25)... led by 7 in the 4thQ at Creighton (Dec. 12)... down by as many as 29, ASU got within 6 points 2x in the 4thQ vs. Utah (Jan. 23)... entered 4thQ at Oregon (Feb. 1) within 3 points of the Ducks... Was tied at No. 6 Arizona (57-57) with under 2 mins remaining, Arizona scored five of the game's last six points to escape with an 62-58 win... Spent much of 4thQ tied or within one possession at WSU (Feb. 18) and again at UW (Feb. 20).
• Defensively, ASU has given up 55 or fewer points 10x. In its 57-52 OT win over Colorado (Jan. 21), ASU held CU nearly 18 points below its scoring average. CU's 52 points tied its lowest point total of the season. It needed the 5 additional minutes in OT to reach that as the Buffaloes had 46 points in regulation. ASU held Oregon more than 24 points below its average in 55-49 upset of the No. 19 Ducks (Feb. 6).
• ASU has allowed 13 or fewer points in a quarter 39x this season.
• ASU has allowed an average of only 57.5 ppg since the 2014-15 season (a span of 247 games). It has held the opposition to 50 or less points 73 times during that stretch (ASU is 69-4 in those contests).
• Including its 8-5 record this season, ASU is 81-18 (.818) in non-conference, regular season games since 2013.
• Two Sun Devils have started every game: Jaddan Simmons and Taya Hanson – both returning starters from last season's squad.
• Transfers Jade Loville (Boise State) and Mael Gilles (graduate transfer from Rutgers) have started all 22 games they have played in.
• Maggie Besselink started first 7 games before getting injured. Jayde Van Hyfte, returning from surgery last year, has started last 15 games.
• Jade Loville: Has scored 20 or more points 7x this year and currently leads ASU in scoring (16.5 ppg/3rd in Pac-12), 3-pointers (33), FG pct (42.3/15th in Pac-12) and 3-point FG pct. (42.3/4th in Pac-12) and is 2nd in FTs made (60) and attempted (79). On Dec. 18, Loville became the fourth Sun Devil 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 Feb. 22) in ASU's win over San Diego (Dec. 18). She repeated the feat by accounting for 19 of her game-high 33 points (tied for 2nd-highest total in the Pac-12 this season) in the second half of ASU's win over Oregon State (Feb. 4). Loville scored an opponent game-high 27 points in ASU's upset of No. 6 Arizona (Feb. 11). DNP for precautionary reasons in ASU's contest vs. Colorado (Jan. 21).
• Jaddan Simmons: Leads ASU in assists (2.9 apg/12th in Pac-12) and FTs made (69) and attempted (96) and is 2nd in steals (1.65 spg/10th in the Pac-12). Averaged 11.5 ppg in two games vs. Arizona including team-high 16 points at Arizona (Feb. 13). In ASU's last three games, Simmons has averaged 17.0 points and while shooting 59 percent (16-27) from the floor, including 62.5 percent (5-8) 3FGs.
• Taya Hanson: Is 2nd on the team in 3FGs (28), tied 2nd in blocks (0.6 bpg), 3rd in assists (2.3 apg) & steals (1.3 spg) and 4th in rebounds (3.4 rpg). Hanson scored 17 points in ASU's win over No. 22 Colorado (Jan. 21) and in its win over OSU (Feb. 4). She tied her career high in rebounds (7) in the win over Colorado and again in ASU's upset of No. 19 Oregon (Feb. 6). Hanson, who has made all 25 of her FTs in Pac-12 play, scored a season-high 19 points in upset of No. 6 Arizona (Feb. 11).
• Mael Gilles: Currently paces the team in rebs (7.64 rpg/4th in the Pac-12), offensive rebs (2.45 rpg/7th in Pac-12), steals (1.82 spg/6th in Pac-12) and blocks (1.27 bpg/8th in Pac-12) and is tied for 2nd in scoring (9.8 ppg), and assists (2.7 apg). Gilles has four double-doubles and has just missed the feat three other times. She has scored in double figures 9x – including career-high 19 points (10-of-10 FTs) in upset of No. 6 Arizona (Feb. 11) – and has grabbed 10 or more rebs 6x. Followed that with 15-point performance (6-10 FGs) in the rematch in in Tucson (Feb. 13). DNP for precautionary reasons in ASU's contest vs. Lipscomb (Dec. 30).
• 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 15 straight games before getting injured late in ASU's game at WSU (Feb. 18)... Was shooting 64 percent for the season (21-33)... With ASU up by one point, took a charge in the final seconds of ASU's 81-77 win upset of No. 6 Arizona (Feb. 11).
• Maggie Besselink: After starting the first seven games, missed ASU's next six games due to injury. She returned to action vs. Colorado (Jan. 21) and played until missing ASU's contest vs. Oregon State (Feb. 4). Returned for ASU's rematch vs. Oregon (Feb. 6) but has since missed last three games. In per-game averages, Besselink is 2nd on the team in rebounds (5.3 rpg) and offensive rebounds (2.3 rpg). Her career-high 15 rebounds vs. Minnesota (Nov. 12) are the most by a Sun Devil this season. Besselink started 14/18 games last season and led ASU in rebounds (5.7 rpg/16th in the Pac-12).
• Ayzhiana Basallo: Is currently 2nd on the team in 3-point FG pct. (40.4/8th in Pac-12), 3rd in 3-pointers (21) and 4th in assists (1.4 apg). She scored 7 of her 10 points in the 3rd quarter of ASU's win over No. 19 Oregon (Feb. 6). Is shooting 87 percent from the FT line (20-23).
• Katelyn Levings: Has played in every game (one start) and is tied for 2nd on the team in blocks (0.6 bpg), is 3rd in rebounds (3.5 rpg) and offensive rebounds (1.3 rpg) and is shooting 86 percent (12-14) from the free throw line... Starting in place of Jayde Van Hyfte, scored a career-high 14 points at UW (Feb. 20).
• Gabriela Bosquez: Has played in every game (one start) and is 5th in assists/1.0 apg and steals (0.5 spg)... Tied her career high in scoring (9 points) before having to leave the game due to injury in 2nd half at UW (Feb. 20).
• Sydney Erikstrup: Has played in every game and scored a career-high 8 points vs. Marist (Nov. 21).
• Imogen Greenslade: Has played in every game is tied for 4th in blocks (0.4 bpg) and offensive rebounds (1.0 rpg) and is shooting 56 percent from the floor (22-39). She grabbed career-high 11 rebounds in ASU's win vs. Harvard).
• Isadora Souza: Missed most of preseason training while healing from injury and has been limited to 6 games.
• Meg Newman: One of the most sought-after players in the country and ranked as the No. 33 overall player in the nation and No. 6 at her position by ESPN.com, Newman suffered a season-ending injury during preseason training.
• 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. Freshman post Meg Newman – one of the nation's most sought-after players and ranked No. 6 at her position by ESPN.com – was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury during preseason practices. In addition, Isadora Sousa, another exciting newcomer, missed most of preseason workouts due to injury.
• 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) & 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 shooting 30 percent in a 55-44 loss at BYU (Nov. 17).
• Coming off a 13 pct (3-24) outing from long range at BYU, ASU came within one 3-pointer of tying the single-game school record after hitting 13 in an 82-53 win over Marist (Nov. 21). Ten of its triples came during a first half in which it shot a blistering 59 pct 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) & 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. The Sun Devils entered the game with a record of 2-4. The win over the Rams started a sequence in which the Sun Devils went 7-1 over their next eight games.
• ASU swept its home tournament, the ASU Classic, defeating UTSA (68-44) & 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. Gabriela Bosquez (career-high nine points) and Imogen Greenslade (career-high 11 rebounds) both had strong outings against Harvard.
• Despite a (then) career-high 18 points from Gilles, ASU had its 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. ASU 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.
• On Dec. 18, Loville became the 4th Sun Devil WBB 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 Feb. 19) in ASU's 79-60 win over San Diego.
• ASU was originally scheduled to open Pac-12 play with contests at UCLA (Dec. 31) & 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 also had its next four contests – vs. UW and WSU, at UO and OSU – postponed.
• Coming off an unplanned period of just over three weeks without playing a game, ASU started Pac-12 play – the final Pac-12 team to start league play – with a 57-52 overtime upset of No. 22 Colorado (Jan. 21). It followed that with a 72-63 loss at home to Utah, a game in which ASU nearly came up with what would have been the second-largest comeback in NCAA Division I history. Trailing by 29 points with two minutes remaining in the second quarter, ASU fought back to get within six points with just over two minutes remaining.
• Playing for only the fourth time in 37 days, the Sun Devils fell at No. 2 and defending national champion Stanford 78-40 on Jan. 28. ASU was not able to play the second game it had scheduled while in the Bay Area after its game at Cal (Jan. 30) had to be postponed.
• In its first opportunity to make up one of its seven postponements, ASU came up on the wrong end of a 72-58 decision at No. 19 Oregon (Feb. 1). Gilles came through with one of her best all-around games of the season with team highs in points (15), rebounds (7) and assists (career high-tying 5 assists). Trailing by three points entering the fourth quarter, ASU was outscored 23-12 in the final 10 minutes.
• ASU entered its contest vs. third-place Oregon State (Feb. 4) having lost its last three games. The Sun Devils would respond to the challenge as Loville scored 19 of her game-high 33 points in the second half and Hanson knocked down 6 consecutive free throws with 17 seconds remaining to help ASU defeat the Beavers 67-57. ASU then evened the score with Oregon, upsetting the No. 19 Ducks 55-49 (Feb. 6). Loville scored 12 of her 16 points in the 2nd half and Basallo chipped in 7 of her 10 points in the 3rd quarter.
• ASU split its two games vs. No. 6 Arizona, winning 81-77 in Tempe (Feb. 11) and coming just short of pulling off the sweep, falling 62-58 in Tucson (Feb. 13). Loville (27 points, season high 8 rebounds), Hanson (season-high 19 points) and Gilles (career-high 19 points/10 rebounds) combined for 65 points in ASU's win in Tempe (Feb. 11). With the scored tied at 57-57 in the second game, Arizona scored five of the game's last six points to escape with an 62-58 win. Loville (17.5 ppg), Gilles (17.0 ppg) and Simmons (11.5 ppg), who led ASU with 16 points in the rematch, all averaged double figures in the two games.
• ASU's makeup game at Cal (scheduled for Feb. 16) was supposed to be the second game of a sequence in which ASU would have been playing 4 road games in 8 days. ASU's flight to Oakland on Feb. 15 was aborted (mechanical issues with its aircraft.) While alternatives were explored to travel to the Bay Area and play the game, none were deemed to be in the best interest of the health and welfare of the student-athletes. Because ASU did not travel to California and play the game, the Pac-12 ruled ASU had to forfeit the game and take a loss in the conference standings.
• Despite a pair of stellar offensive performances from Jade Loville (13 of 21 points in the 1st half) and Jaddan Simmons (career-high 22 points/19 in the 2nd half), ASU lost at Washington State 65-58 (Feb. 18). Missed opportunities prevented ASU from capturing the win as it spent much of the 4th quarter either tied or within one possession of the Cougars. Two days later at Washington, ASU, similar to its loss at WSU, was within a single possession for most of the last five minutes. It even managed to pull even with after Taya Hanson's 3-pointer knotted the score at 62-62 with 2:17 remaining. The outcome was in doubt until the final seconds when the Sun Devils were not able to hit a 3-pointer to force overtime. ASU continued to be without Maggie Besselink (has not played since Feb. 6 vs. Oregon) for both games and veteran post Jayde Van Hyfte did not play at UW after getting injured late in the game at WSU. In addition, Gabriela Bosquez, who was having one of the best games of her career on Sunday, was forced to leave the game in the second half due to injury.