Sun Devil WBB will open play in Pac-12 Tournament on Wednesday vs. OSU
TEMPE, Ariz. – After finishing in ninth place in the final Pac-12 regular season standings, the Sun Devil women's basketball team will open play in the Pac-12 Tournament on Wednesday (2:30 pm PST/3:30 p.m. MST) when it faces No. 8 seed Oregon State at Michelob ULTRA Arena (Mandalay Bay Events Center) in Las Vegas.
ASU started the day looking to end the regular season on a winning note heading into next week's tournament. Unfortunately, it was not the be as it lost to visiting UCLA 59-52 on Saturday.
Jade Loville led all scorers with 21 points while Jaddan Simmons added 11 points and six rebounds for the Sun Devils (12-13, 4-9 Pac-12). Mael Gilles, who was honored in a ceremony following the game as the only Sun Devil playing her final home game on Saturday, had six points and five rebounds to go along with team highs in assists (five) and steals (two).
The Sun Devils were outrebounded by the Bruins (13-11, 8-8) by 44-29. Although it only had two more offensive rebounds (11-9), UCLA was able to take better advantage as it outscored ASU 10-2 in second chance points.
"Obviously not the way we wanted to finish our season at home," ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "Our hardships are well documented this year in terms of just not having our roster and all of our COVID setbacks. Big picture-wise, this has been a struggle. And yet, we're right there, so if we could just stop having all the empty possessions, we win. We win these last four games, in my opinion.
"We just settled. We didn't get to the free throw line; we did not make UCLA guard us the way we did in the first quarter. We did the first quarter, and I don't think we did it again the rest of the game… I think if you hold a team like UCLA to 59, then you should win. We should be able to score, and we fouled on free throws, so 57. We just have to clean that up, and we definitely gave up some key offensive rebounds down the stretch and we knew that was going to determine the game."
Down by as many as nine points midway through the fourth quarter, the Sun Devils quickly got within five after a layup by Imogen Greenslade and a basket by Loville.
On the defensive end, ASU allowed the Bruins to score only two more points the rest of the game and those points came from the free throw line. Offensively ASU was unable to muster any additional offense over the last four minutes as it missed its final eight shots and was not able to get to the free throw line.
"It's just a game of possessions, we just have to capitalize on those possessions," Gilles said. "Obviously, rebounding [can be improved] because we got out-rebounded by 15. They had 17 turnovers, we didn't capitalize with those turnovers. All of those close games mean we were right there, we just need to figure it out."
The Sun Devils started fast, outscoring the Bruins 18-11 in the first quarter.
UCLA would assume control in the second quarter and was able to take the lead at the half after a 23-13 second quarter.
After missing Thursday's game vs. USC due to injury, Gabriela Bosquez returned to the lineup. The Sun Devils were still without Maggie Besselink (has not played since Feb. 6), starting post Jayde Van Hyfte was injured last Feb. 18 at Washington State and and Isadora Sousa.
Wednesday's Pac-12 Tournament opener against the Beavers (13-12, 6-9 Pac-12) will be a rematch of a contest won by the Sun Devils 67-57 on Feb. 4 in Tempe. Loville scored 19 of her game-high 33 points in the second half and Taya Hanson knocked down six consecutive free throws with 17 seconds remaining to help the Devils capture the win.
Wednesday's Pac-12 opener for the Sun Devils can be seen on Pac-12 Network, Arizona, Oregon and heard on KDUS AM 1060.