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Balanced Scoring Attack, Stifling Defense Helps Sun Devils Tame Tigers

Nov 11, 2022

TEMPE, Ariz. – Their first lead, a 2-0 advantage held :50 into the game, proved to be the only of the afternoon for Grambling State, as the Sun Devils' balanced attack and stifling defense caused the Tigers' problems throughout their 62-49 win on Friday afternoon at Desert Financial Arena.

The Sun Devils forced a total of 17 turnovers and locked the Tigers into various scoring droughts all afternoon that led to a final shooting line of 20-for-64 from the field (31 percent).

A pair of Tyi Skinner three-pointers midway through the fourth quarter – the team's first from beyond the arc this afternoon – helped the Sun Devils to their largest lead of the game, a 20-point edge that ultimately hushed the Tigers for good. 

Eleven of Skinner's game-high 16 points came in the fourth quarter, the perfect response after the Tigers had clipped the Sun Devil lead to nine with over eight minutes remaining.

"I felt great," Skinner said. "Even on when a new team, it's still like the sisterhood among the team. We got to know each other in a short period of time. And I love playing with them. They support me, I support them. I trust them."

Four Sun Devils tallied double-digit point totals. After Skinner's 16, Treasure Hunt finished with her first double-double (13 pts, 11 rebs) in her second career game as a Sun Devil. 

Jaddan Simmons, who leads the team with 70 minutes played through the first two games, added 12 points, six rebounds and three steals, while Kayla Mokwuah chipped in with 10.

"There's, so many positives that we just talked about in the locker room," Adair said. "I'm just super proud of this group. Because every day we're watching them get better every day, they're trying to apply the things that we've been working on and emphasizing. And we will continue to just build on this."

The Sun Devils took a comfortable 35-22 lead into halftime, outscoring the Tigers 20-11 in the second quarter. They paired a 6-0 run to open the quarter with a Grambling State scoring drought that lasted 5:52. 

Simmons, after dropping 22 points in the win against Northern Arizona on Monday, led all Sun Devil scorers in the first half with 13 points, including a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line.

Grambling State scored the first bucket of the game and then were mired by the Sun Devils' zone attack that left the Tigers scoreless for the next 3:58. It was a preview of the Sun Devils' defensive effort that was to come, as they finished with 10 steals, five blocks and 19 points off turnovers.

The Sun Devils went on a 15-9 run to close out the opening quarter, paced by a half-dozen points from Simmons.

The Sun Devils are now 2-0 to begin the Natasha Adair era, the eighth time since 2013-14 they've started perfect through two. Their 13-point victory over the Tigers is also their fifth consecutive win against a non-conference foe.

Junior guard Jaddan Simmons has played in 70 of 80 minutes through the Sun Devils' first two games this season. She's the only player since 2004-05 to play a combined 70-plus minutes in ASU's first two games of the season.

It's the most minutes played in the first two games by a Sun Devil Women's Basketball player since Nov. 21, 2015, Sophia Brunner (66). 

Simmons is just one of three ASU women's basketball players to play 30-plus minutes in each of the team's first two games since 2004-05 (Quinn Dornstauder & Elisha Davis, Nov. 15 & Nov. 21, 2015).

Friday's Arizona State-Grambling State game is part of the inaugural Pac-12-SWAC Legacy Series.

Announced in Sept. 2021, the allyship between the Pac-12 and SWAC is the first of its kind pertaining to basketball scheduling between Autonomy 5 and HBCU leagues, but also places crucial emphasis on raising awareness for anti-racism and social justice initiatives.

A critical component of the Legacy Series is ongoing educational opportunities for student-athletes featuring community leaders and expert Conference alumni. 

This event comes on the heels of this past summer's Pac-12 ImPACt experience in Selma and Montgomery, Ala., in which conference student-athletes and administrators journeyed to the center of the civil rights movement.

"I think anytime we have an opportunity to talk about social issues and bring them to the forefront and use our platform, but also to merge with the PAC-12 and the SWAC," Adair said. "I think it's our opportunity and our responsibility to make sure that we educate and grow our student-athletes and so to be able to talk. We broke bread Wednesday night together and just had a really good time meeting one another. But it stands for more than just basketball. You have a responsibility, especially on this big stage to make sure we're not just coaching them on the court. We're coaching them and preparing them for life. And they will be able to grow as women and be empowered to speak up for things that they are passionate about, and just things to just affect change in society. So I think it's really needed and just thankful to be a part of the conference that thought so."

In addition to Friday's contest being ASU's first Legacy game, Friday's contest will also be part of ASU's annual Salute to Service recognition. Individuals who volunteer to serve in our country's military or in the communities they live in are often motivated by a strong desire to help, protect and give back to others. Arizona State University honors all these men and women who put service above self in both their professional and personal lives. That is what our Salute to Service week is all about. The ASU community is welcome to come out and help celebrate the University in thanking our brave men and women in service throughout the week.

The Sun Devils are soon to hit the road for the first time of the 2022-23 season, as they're set to meet Montana State on November 15 at 7 p.m. MST to kick off a four-game road trip.