A flagrant foul from Kelsey Plum defined the term game-changing moment Sunday. A tight game for the first two and a half quarters turned into a romp for the No. 9 Arizona State Sun Devils, 77-57, at home on Senior Day over Washington (18-9, 9-7 Pacific-12) and Plum, the conference’s leading scorer and second in the nation at 27 points per game.
Quinn Dornstauder led ASU (24-4, 15-1) with a career-high 25 points, and it was the final home game for seniors Elisha Davis, Katie Hempen, Peace Amukamara, Arnecia Hawkins, and Eliza Normen. However, the Sun Devils are likely in line to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament again, with an expected top four seed.
“It’s a big game for everyone, so I wanted to make sure we go out on a win for them,” Dornstauder said. “I think with everyone, when you get into a flow, relax and play your game, that’s the key. There’s still a ton of season left. No one’s thinking this is the end.”
The Sun Devils trailed by as many at 10 in the opening period and were down 30-28 at halftime, with Plum already tallying 13 of her 25 points. Hempen opened the second half with a three in the opening minute to take the lead, 31-30. Midway through the third, the Plum flagrant foul sent Dornstauder to the line where the 6-foot-4 Canadian tied it at 38-38. Five consecutive points, concluding with a Hempen three, sparked a Washington timeout that only resulted in six more Sun Devil points and a second timeout. Davis then knocked down a three to make it 52-38, before Chantel Osahor ended the run with a basket and free throw. ASU was in control by 11 after three, 54-43, and never looked back.
“That first quarter was a little shaky,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “I thought we just weren’t locked in. Washington has a very classy program, they just play hard, everybody is a little bit tired right now, and obviously, it’s a big game. Since I watch hours and hours of tape, you know if a team has poor sportsmanship going in. Although we took the first quarter off, after that, we were good.”
Hempen, Davis and Sophie Brunner each scored 11 for the Sun Devils and Hawkins collected nine points. Hempen and Davis also had nine and six assists, and Brunner led the team with seven rebounds. Talia Walton also scored 13 for the Huskies, and Katie Collier grabbed eight rebounds. Plum, who actually caused seven turnovers Sunday, is nearly eight points ahead of second-place Kristine Anigwe of California in Pac-12 scoring, and trails only Jasmine Nwajei of Wagner (28.7 ppg) for the Division I lead.
“It makes the game a lot easier when Quinn demands the ball and catches fire,” Hempen said. “I gave the team a speech before the game today. I looked at it as everyone’s game day.”
Davis lamented on the fact that this was a very strong class that kept together through many trials and tribulations. She mentioned how some players don’t make it all four years and that last season, Promise Amukamara graduated by herself. Davis was happy she had players in which to share this experience.
The Sun Devils wrap up the Pac-12 schedule in Los Angeles to play USC and UCLA at 7 p.m. MT Friday and noon Feb. 28. The Huskies host Utah and Colorado Thursday and Saturday in their final two regular season games.