Mann, Bennett lead Devils in victory

A slow start for ASU's women's basketball team proved to be insignificant in their 59-51 victory over the Utah Utes, Saturday afternoon.

Arizona State (13-5, 4-3 Pac-12) did not score for the first four minutes of the game, yet shortly thereafter, the Sun Devils picked up their momentum, and got in their groove. Shooting 39.1 percent from the field, ASU went into the half leading Utah (9-3, 2-5) 22-19.

ASU's interim head coach, Joseph Anders, called a time out early on in the game, after the Utes took a 6-0 lead, hoping to slow the visitors' momentum.

"We looked at the game plan this way… their players have been playing anywhere from 35-40+ minutes a ball game," Anders explained, "and we knew that if we could get established inside, it would bode well for us. What we wanted to do was to run the complete shot clock down and then attack them within the last 10 seconds of the shot clock. We didn't fair very well at that. And then we made the change of that in the second half, and we produced points.

Junior guard Deja Mann, who paced ASU with 17 points, appreciated the early time out, and agreed with Coach Anders that the team needed to stop the Utes' momentum somehow.

"He [Anders], just told us to get it together," Mann stated.

Kali Bennett posted 12 points and nine rebounds, and tied the school record with seven blocks. Interim head coach Joseph Anders was very pleased with the 5th year senior and her flirtation with a triple-double.

"If we had to pick an MVP right now, she, [Bennett], would be it. She plays with an urgency that a 5th year senior should play at. And she wants her teammates to come along with her, as we work to be the best basketball team that we possibly could be," Anders explained.

Bennett attributed her successes of this game to the fact that she remained out of foul trouble, something she typically does not do.

"I haven't blocked that many shots since club ball in high school. Usually I'm in foul trouble, so it was nice to have that freedom and get those blocks without compromising my fouls, so it feels great," Bennett stated. "I was hyped."

Bennett was not alone in having an outstanding game, as Deja Mann lead her team in scoring, as well as scoring a career high of 17 points.

"I just tried to stay in the flow of the offense," Mann said. "When the shot was there, I just took it."

"She has absolutely grown into the position of leader, captain, point guard, throughout the course of this year," Anders remarked. "She's such a coach on the floor that she slows the pace down to a level where some of our horses are not able to run and get going. In the second half, she was able to actually release the ball to our wings as we pushed it up the floor, but still force the same things in terms of them having to sprint the floor defensively, but it took it out of her hands for a moment, which allowed her to see the game and actually take shots, see the drive, and see her teammates. And that's the balance we're still working on."

After a split in Oregon, losing to Oregon State deemed to be a wake up call for the team, as they now realize what needs to change in order to succeed for the remainder of their season.

"The road is a difficult place to compete," Anders acknowledged. "You go to Oregon State, and play hard, but you come up short. The team feels that urgency. The team has made a tremendous amount of sacrifices to put us in this position that we're in. And now they want to finish it.

"The thing we have to do is get better. It's that time of year where you are grinding for victories. You have to honestly go out every single day and give the kind of effort necessary for you to improve. Those teams that are positioning themselves for a late charge, they're getting better right now. And that's what we want to do as well."

The Lady Devils hit the road for their next pair of games, as they take on Washington and Washington State next week. They will return to the desert on Thursday, February 2nd, for a showdown against Stanford.

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