Devils Humble Huskers in Season Opener

Arizona State women's basketball team defeated the Nebraskan Cornhuskers in an overwhelming victory, 87-60, followed by a standing ovation for their home opening success. This is the ninth consecutive opening win and 23rd straight regular season win for the Lady Devils.

Beginning the game with the same intensity it ended with, the Lady Devils controlled the court and had many successful opportunities on offense. Less than two minutes into the game, Briann January's rebound on defense, followed by a break away pass to Emily Westerberg for two, set the energy for the remainder of the game. The women also took advantage of free throw opportunities, hitting seven of eight in the first half.

The passing game on offense was particularly impressive as well, sometimes incorporating four of five players on the court for a successful offensive execution. As Coach Charli Turner Thorne said, "I will tell you that this is the best passing team on the perimeter. . . [These] are the best passers I've ever had the opportunity to coach." She went on to elaborate that the fundamental aspects of the team, including ball handling, speed, and passing skills, are going to be difficult for other teams to compete with.

However, though the women usually have great momentum on the court, their tendency to rush the ball often causes them to shoot less consistently and make other careless mistakes. "That's what she (Coach Charli) emphasizes in practice," said guard Jill Noe. "Don't rush, be patient. There's time in the game when we we're patient and she took us out and said take a picture of that because that was patience."

Coach Turner Thorne added, "When you play that hard aggressively defensively and you're trying to push push push push, it is hard to switch gears and it just takes time."

The Lady Devils make up a talented team with a lot of depth, but will continue to practice to improve throughout the season. "We know we're not going to be perfect this time of year and we don't expect ourselves to, but we do expect ourselves to give 110%," said senior Emily Westerberg. "And that's what we tried to do today and I think the outcome shows that a lot of it's good, but we also have tons to work on."

Though the game went well for the Sun Devils, freshman guard, Dymond Simon was injured during a screen in the first half. "Dymond may have a concussion, that's why we held her out," noted Turner Thorne. "She hit that screen . . . [and] got jarred a bit."

Though Nebraska did not do as well as expected, they too consist of many talented players. Freshman guard Nicole Neals, who saw a lot of court time, hails from Chandler, Arizona and was the former teammate of ASU players Dymond Simon and Kayli Murphy. All three players recently graduated from St. Mary's High School. Senior guard Kiera Hardy is also a tremendous athlete who is up for this year's All-American award. However, ASU's consistent blocking held her at just one three-point-shot for the night.

Returning ASU sophomore, Kirsten Thompson, is back on the court after an illness prevented her from playing with the team. Though she has only seen two days of practice previous to tonight's game, Thompson played well all night. "I was really impressed with her stamina," Turner Thorne commented, "and just her ability to contribute after having that long a lay off."

The girls have already improved since their exhibition games last week and are giving up fewer turnovers and catching two-thirds of their baskets in assists. ASU's head coach claims that now they needed to "sharpen up a few things defensively."

Westerberg led all players in the floor with 20 points. Noe was the leading ASAU rebounder with nine and also chipped in with 15 points. Danielle Orsillo was the only other Lady Devils player in double digits with 13.

"Our preseason is so important for us," said Westerberg. "We need to beat top ranked teams in the preseason so that it can set us up for March. That might be a long ways away but going into the Pac-10 tournament, going into the rest of our preseason and setting the tone - hey we're here, we're not going away, we're going to get better. I think sends a really big message."

The women will play again this Sunday against New Mexico and Monday against Florida Atlantic in Tempe, as part of the Veterans Day Tip Off Classic Tournament.

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