Familiar problems plague ASU women in loss

Following a tough loss to USC on Thursday, the ASU women fell short once again after losing to UCLA, 64-48, Saturday evening. The Lady Devils (10-4) are currently on their longest losing streak of the season. Missed shots, rebounding (or lack thereof), and poor defense are trends that are beginning to become all too familiar for ASU.

Scoring their first 7 out of 9 shots, the Sun Devils started off strong, with Kali Bennett scoring 8 points early on. ASU took a 15-10 lead over the Bruins in the first six minutes, though failed to maintain a huge lead throughout the remainder of the game. The loss of momentum was evident in Wells Fargo arena, as the ladies of ASU proceeded to play catch-up until the final buzzer.

Making baskets was an issue for the Lady Devils for both USC and UCLA. Shooting just 26 percent from the field after the first six minutes, ASU struggled offensively throughout the game. The Devils' leading scorer, Bennett, scored her first 10 points in the first half, totaling the second half with 5.

"Shooting is such a mental thing," proclaimed Arizona State head coach Joseph Anders, "and the one thing that I will not do is lose confidence in my club…lose confidence in my players. I believe in my players, and I know they're good shooters. I know they're going to hit shots. And it's just a matter of time before that flood comes through."

Unfocused defense seemed to linger throughout the Devils, which became extremely noticeable as the game progressed.

"Anytime you get 18 offensive rebounds, it's what you do with those offensive rebounds that really is the tell-tale," explained Anders. "No, we're not shooting great, therefore, we talked about crashing the boards more. But again, once you get that rebound if you don't have a clear basket, then what you have to do is be disciplined enough to them come out and make the team play defense again,"

Coming into Saturday's game, UCLA was 7-8, (1-2 in the PAC-12), potentially motivated their squad to take down the 10-3 Devils.

"UCLA came in under 500. Their urgency turned up before they got to this point, because of the fact they realized that the only hope they had for postseason play is that they must get it done in conference play," stated Anders. "My team, enjoying the success that they had early on, now has a sense of what we have to do day by day, week by week, to position ourselves for postseason play. To have success now, you've got to dig deeper…you've got to want it more. You've got to play with a greater sense of urgency."

Lack of defense allowed UCLA guard, Thea Lemberger, an astonishing 22 points, along with Rebekah Gardner to finish with eight rebounds plus 16 points, and Marquel Walker 15 points with 13 rebounds.

"Thea…I've never seen her play so well. I watched her play in the summers, because last year she missed season due to injury. But what a nice breakout weekend for her in terms for her to hit shot after shot after shot," Anders said. "Walker is a pro-player in the making. The things that she can do at her size, ball-skill wise, is amazing," Anders added.

Anders feels the Devils have a huge obstacle to overcome in terms of confidence. In all aspect of the game, Anders feels his team is struggling to keep their heads high.

"Right now, the biggest hurdle for us is from the neck up. Physically we work hard. Physically we come out every game and we battle. That confidence piece is heart and head," Anders explained, "We've got to get that connection, and once we get that then we're going to do everything we can to hold on to that and run the rest of the race."

Although the Lady Devils have suffered two of their four losses back to back, Interim Head Coach Joseph Anders believes his program can and will bounce back from these two games.

"My confidence in them is not wavering," Andres claimed. "We will shoot the ball well. We will play great basketball in 2012. We will compete in this tough PAC-12 conference and we will give you everything that we have in us every time we step on the floor."

ASU hits the road to take on Oregon and Oregon State next week, but will return to Wells Fargo Arena on January 19th to take on Colorado.

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