A Sweet Return Home

The proverbial dangled carrot was mentioned all season long in the ASU Women's Basketball circles - win the first two games of the NCAA tournament, and you'll be rewarded by coming back to Tempe for the Sweet Sixteen round. Following the Lady Sun Devils 70-61 win over Notre Dame, you can consider this carrot a well-enjoyed appetizer before the home cooked main course.

ASU stormed out of the gates for a 7-0 lead, but was outscored 15-2 in the first nine minutes of the first stanza and found themselves down 15-9. Notre Dame's star Jacqueline Batteast scored eight points in that spurt, but was held to only two points the rest of the period. Nevertheless, the Fighting Irish built a comfortable double-digit lead, which was as high as 13 points. The Lady Devils had two separate five-minute scoring droughts, but still managed to cut the margin to five, 28-23, on Betsy Boardman's first half buzzer beater three-point basket.

In the second half, the maroon and gold fed off the momentum of that dramatic shot and took control of virtually the entire second half. Kristen Kovesdy tied the game at 30-30 a minute and a half in, and her team never trailed from that point out. Kovesdy's jumper at the 10:20 mark put ASU ahead 41-32. However, that lead was cut back to 58-54 with 2:34 remaining in the game. Senior point guard Kylan Loney, who suffered a bloody nose earlier in the game, put the game out of reach with her three-point basket a minute later. Loney would add five points from the charity stripe, which helped the Sun Devils, achieve a feat that hasn't been accomplished in Tempe for 22 years.

Loney paced ASU with 20 points. Aubree Johnson poured in 12 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. Amy Denson (11 points) and Kovesdy (ten points) were the only other Devils in double figures. ASU dominated Notre Dame in rebounds 38-27, and held the Irish to 39.2% shooting. Megan Duffy led her team with 24 points.

Up next for ASU is A Saturday meeting at Wells Fargo Arena against the winner of the George Washington – North Carolina match up.

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