Sun Devil WBB continues road trip on Sunday at New Mexico
THE GAME: Sun Devil WBB (3-0) at New Mexico (1-2)
WHEN: Sunday at 2 p.m. MST
WHERE: The Pit • Albuquerque, N.M.
WATCH: Mountain West Network
RADIO: KAZG 1440 AM
LIVE STATS: Click here
The Sun Devil women's basketball team (3-0) will attempt to start 4-0 for the second time in three seasons – the first time under first-year ASU head coach Natasha Adair – when it continues its five-game swing away from home at New Mexico on Sunday (2 p.m. MST).
ASU started its road trip on a positive note, with a 79-64 win at 2022 Big Sky Tournament champion and 2022 NCAA Tournament participant Montana State on Nov. 15. The Sun Devils scored the first 20 points and led by as many as 27. Tyi Skinner (game-high 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting) came within a point of matching her career high in scoring while accounting for a career-best four steals. Treasure Hunt scored a career-high 19 points while leading the team with seven rebounds. Jaddan Simmons was ASU's third double-digit scorer with 15 points, going 4-for-8 from the field and a perfect 5-for-5 at the free throw line. The trio of Skinner, Hunt and Simmons combined for 58 points on Tuesday.
"This is absolutely what I want to see," Adair said after the game. "We're getting better and better every day. This is a team that's only played together for three games and if they're playing together this hard, and they're trusting one another, the rest will take care of itself."
The Sun Devils started out the Adair era with a 69-68 win vs. Northern Arizona on Nov. 7. Simmons tied her career high with 22 points while Skinner added 12 points. In her debut for the Sun Devils, Meg Newman, who redshirted last season, had a near double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds. Trailing 68-67, Simmons stepped to the foul line and sank both free throw shots to give ASU the win. ASU held the Lumberjacks to zero points in the final three minutes of play, using a quick 5-0 spurt to clinch the one-point victory. Newman's rebound in the closing seconds clinched the win.
ASU's second win, a 62-49 decision over Grambling State on Nov. 11, came in much less dramatic fashion. ASU led by 16 in the middle of the third quarter, but the Lady Tigers got back within nine points less than two minutes into the final frame. Skinner personally made sure ASU did not have a second-consecutive, one-possession game to open the season as the junior guard scored 11 of her game-high 16 points – and 11 of ASU's 16 points as a team – in the final quarter. Skinner could not miss as she swished all four of her field goals, including a pair of makes from downtown and hit the only free throw she attempted.
NOTES ON THE OPPOSITION
New Mexico is 1-2 after opening the season with a 76-68 loss at Southern Utah. The Lobos bounced back with a 68-61 win in their home opener before falling at New Mexico State, 73-64 in overtime on Tuesday. The Lobos return three starters from last year's squad that finished 26-10, finished second in the Mountain West and advanced to the WNIT.
ASU has won the last four and seven of the last 10 meetings against the Lobos, most recently an 84-47 win in 2019.
SEE YOU IN DECEMBER
ASU's game at Montana State on Nov. 15 started a stretch in which the ASU would be playing five consecutive games away from Desert Financial Arena.
After Sunday's game at New Mexico, ASU will travel to The Bahamas for the Goombay Splash where it will face American and Notre Dame on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 25-26). The last of the five games will be a bus trip to Phoenix to take on Grand Canyon University (Nov. 30).
ASU will be back in Desert Financial Arena the first weekend in December to take on UMass (Dec. 2) and Missouri (Dec. 4).
RANKINGS OF NOTE (AS OF NOV. 19)
• As a team, ASU is ranked among the top third in the Pac-12 in FG percentage defense (3rd/32.7) and in FT attempts per game (3rd/24.3).
• Junior guard Tyi Skinner is 2nd in the Pac-12 in steals per game (3.0), sixth in scoring (17.3 ppg) and 13th in FT percentage (84.6).
• Junior guard Jaddan Simmons is 37th in the nation and 3rd in the Pac-12 in free throw percentage (94.7). Simmons is also 7th in the Pac-12 in both scoring (16.3 ppg) and blocks per game (1.3).
• Junior guard Treasure Hunt is 5th in the Pac-12 in rebounds per game (8.7).
• Freshman Trayanna Crisp is 28th in the nation and 6th in the Pac-12 in assist-to-turnover ratio.
• Three Sun Devils are averaging double figures in scoring: junior guard and Delaware transfer Tyi Skinner (17.3 ppg) returning junior guard Jaddan Simmons (16.3 ppg) and junior guard and Kentucky transfer Treasure Hunt (Kentucky/13.0 ppg). Skinner has the highest single-game point total by a Sun Devil after scoring 24 points (one point short of her career high) in ASU's win at Montana State (Nov. 15). Simmons tied her career high in scoring with 22 points vs. NAU (Nov. 7).
• Freshman guard Trayanna Crisp (nine assists/two turnovers/3.0 apg) and Skinner (10 assists/five turnovers/3.3 apg), have combined for 19 assists and only seven turnovers. Junior guard Sydney Erikstrup is third on the team in assists.
• Combined with her 13.0 ppg per game average, Hunt is nearly averaging a double-double as she currently leads the team in rebounding, averaging 8.7 rebounds per game. Hunt became the first Sun Devil to account for a double-double this season with 13 points and 11 rebounds in ASU's win over Grambling State (Nov. 11).
• Meg Newman, who made her Sun Devil debut in the 2022-23 season opener after missing the 2021-22 campaign due to injury, came up just short of claiming the first double-double of the season after her nine-point, 11-rebound outing vs. NAU. Newman's final rebound of the game sealed ASU's 69-68 win as she boarded NAU's initial attempt to win the game on its final possession.
• In addition to Hunt, Newman (5.7 rpg), Simmons (5.3 rpg) and grad center and TCU transfer Kayla Mokwuah (5.3 rpg) have been ASU's top performers on the glass. Newman and Mokwuah are tied for the team lead in offensive rebounds per game (2.0).
• Simmons and Skinner are the only two Sun Devils who have made a double-digit number of free throws. Their propensity for getting to the line is especially pleasing when factoring in the two have combined to shoot 91 percent (29-32) from the line – Simmons: 18-19 / Skinner: 11-13). In ASU's season opener vs. Northern Arizona (Nov. 7), with the Sun Devils down 68-67 and 20 seconds remaining, Simmons calmly knocked down two free throws to lift ASU to the 69-68 win.
• Skinner is currently leading the team in steals (3.0 spg). While it is of little surprise, Simmons (No. 2 on the team in steals each of the last two seasons), is among the team leaders in steals (1.7 spg), it is somewhat of a surprise Simmons leads the team in shot blocks (1.3 bpg) over the first three games.
• Eight different Sun Devils are averaging at least 7.9 minutes this season.
• When ASU's defense has needed to be at its best, it has answered the call in the first two games. NAU did not score after going up 68-64 with 3:01 remaining (Nov. 7). When Grambling State cut ASU's 16-point lead to nine early in the fourth quarter (Nov. 11), the Sun Devils answered with a 12-1 run. In ASU's most recent contest, its defense – and offense – both put on dominant performances early on as the Sun Devils scored the first 20 points in their eventual 79-64 win at Montana State.
NOTES ON THE 2022-23 ROSTER
• New Sun Devil head coach Natasha Adair and her staff did an outstanding job of bringing in several talented players capable of making an immediate impact to join the core of talent that chose to commit to Adair after she was named head coach in late March. After a national search, Adair was hired to assume the vacancy left by Sun Devil Hall of Fame coach Charli Turner Thorne, who announced her retirement at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season.
• Guards Jaddan Simmons, Sydney Erikstrup, Isadora Sousa, G/F Maggie Besselink and posts Imogen Greenslade and Meg Newman all remained Sun Devils. All six players are expected to play significant roles this season. Although she was on last year's roster, Meg Newman did not make her Sun Devil debut until the first game of the 2022-23 season as she missed her entire freshman campaign due to injury.
• Another player who chose to stay with the school she originally committed to was incoming freshman and local product Trayanna Crisp, who signed with ASU in November 2021. Adair and her staff were already familiar with Crisp as they recruited the standout guard when they were at Delaware.
• Knowing everything Arizona State University and Sun Devil Athletics has to offer, Adair and her staff were confident in their ability to sign the players they had identified from the pool of talent that included student-athletes in the transfer portal and freshman players who had yet to sign.
• Joining ASU from other college programs were a trio of impressive guards – sophomore Morasha Wiggins (North Carolina) and juniors Tyi Skinner (Delaware) and Treasure Hunt (Kentucky) – and an experienced post in the form of fifth-year center Kayla Mokwuah (TCU).
• A pair of freshmen from Pennsylvania – guard Jaylah Robinson and post Journey Thompson – were also excited to come and be a part Adair's vision for Sun Devil Women's Basketball.
• Prior to ASU's season opener, Adair summed up the process that took place over the offseason and fall camp of gelling the returners with the newcomers: "I think that's been the biggest thing we've focused on, especially in the off-season and summer when everyone got here. It's more about the culture of the team. You had six players that were here and then there was so much change. With the new players coming in, we still talked about why ASU? I think if you keep everyone focused on why ASU, their love for ASU, then it doesn't matter where the players came from. It's just where we are now. But we've spent so much time learning about one another, who we are, what makes us who we are, what's important, our heroes, our hardships and our highlights, and with young women, it's trust. I think everyday being consistent, showing up for one another, and just recognizing everyone's strength and every piece to the puzzle, then we talk about the masterpiece. Really excited about all the moving parts, and they're really working together nicely."
SUN DEVIL WBB PARTICIPATES IN PAC-12-SWAC LEGACY SERIES
On Fri., Nov. 11 Arizona State hosted Grambling State as part of the inaugural Pac-12-SWAC Legacy Series.
Announced in Sept. 2021, the partnership between the Pac-12 and SWAC is the first of its kind pertaining to basketball scheduling between Autonomy 5 and HBCU leagues, but also placed 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.
The event came 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," ASU head coach Natasha Adair said after the game. "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 [Arizona State and Grambling State] broke bread together [earlier in the week] 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. I think it's really needed and just thankful to be a part of the conference that thought so."
CHALLENGING NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE AWAITS ASU
Contests against eight teams that qualified for postseason play last season highlight the Arizona State women's basketball team's 2022 non-conference schedule.
The Sun Devils will play five of their non-conference contests at home, including tilts against 2022 NCAA Tournament participant and Atlantic-10 champion UMass (Dec. 2) and 2022 WNIT participant Missouri (Dec. 4).
ASU will be spending Thanksgiving weekend at the Goombay Splash (Nov. 25-26/Bimini, Bahamas) where it will face two 2022 NCAA Tournament teams in the form of Notre Dame (NCAA Third Round) and American (NCAA First Round and Patriot League Tournament champions).
Other teams ASU will face that qualified for 2022 postseason play include road contests against Montana State (Nov. 15/NCAA First Round), New Mexico (Nov. 20/WNIT Third Round), Grand Canyon (Nov. 30/WNIT First Round) and Stephen F. Austin (Dec. 11/NCAA First Round).