Looking every bit its No. 9 national ranking, Arizona State dismantled Washington State, 61-39, behind 15 points and 11 rebounds from Sophie Brunner Friday at Wells Fargo Arena. It was the 20th win in the past 21 games and fifth consecutive, plus the fourth time this season holding an opponent under 40 points, for the Sun Devils (23-4, 14-1 Pacific-12) and the ninth-straight loss for the Cougars (12-14, 3-12).
“It’s (holding WSU to 39 points) a tribute to our team defense, we do a good job of posting up each other,” said Brunner, who had her second-consecutive double-double and third on the year. “It’s an honor to be able to do that. I don’t like to be that person who shoots every time, my teammates know how I like to play, so I think we need to know our roles.”
ASU Coach Charli Turner Thorne lamented Brunner’s comment, stressing the team likes to share the basketball. Brunner, leading the team with around 11 points per game, doesn’t demand the ball as some star players would.
“We had a great defensive effort to hold them to eight points in three straight quarters,” Turner Thorne said of the win. “I was expecting a closer game. We’re not getting worse, a great team win. She (Brunner) is doing a great job finishing, our team was playing behind us. This time of year, great teams truly separate themselves, not taking possessions off and being disciplined.”
The Sun Devils opened on an 8-0 run over the game’s first six minutes, triggered with opening threes from Katie Hempen and Arnecia Hawkins. Elisha Davis and Kelsey Moos would add threes, as well, with the team a perfect 4-of-4 from downtown in the first quarter. Pinelo Pavilopoulou’s jump shot at the buzzer brought the Cougars within 20-15 after one.
“It was really good,” Hempen said of the opening run. “I thought it brought energy for everyone on the court, and it was nice to start out really well. We have a lot of smart offensive players on this team, and for us to make those cuts, you have to read the play. We do the best, when we keep it simple.”
Once again, ASU began the second on an 10-0 run, cruising to an insurmountable 30-15 lead and keeping WSU off the board until Alexys Swedlund’s three-point play from the line at 4:44. Brunner recorded a layup at the buzzer to give ASU a 35-23 halftime lead. The Sun Devils went into acceleration in the third, and the Cougars were held to 23 percent shooting in the second half.
Hawkins ended with 11 points, Moos eight rebounds and Hempen five assists for ASU, which last lost to Oregon State, 67-44, Feb. 1. Swedlund, who came off the bench, led WSU with nine points, and Mariah Cooks collected six rebounds and four assists. Senior Day for the Sun Devils will be at noon Sunday versus Washington, honoring Davis, Hempen, Arnecia Hawkins, Peace Amukamara, and Eliza Normen. The Cougars will be at Arizona at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“We wanted to be aggressive, it they came in flow, it would be hard to shut them down,” Davis added. “When we play individually, we are very stagnant. Since that game (loss to Oregon State), we feel more urgency. We feel when we are slipping. Thank you to Oregon State for making us a better team, it’s for the long term good of the team.”