The Vols, headed by Coach Pat Summitt, who has been with the team for 33 seasons, out scored the Sun Devils in a high intensity, defense aggressive game. "Part of our goal is to learn from the game and be aggressive for the whole second half," said ASU Senior Emily Westerberg. ". . . Because that's really where games are won." However, their mid game slump kept them at a disadvantage this afternoon.
The game was off to a close start between the two teams and by half time the Vols lead was a mere four points, 42-38. Their go-to girl, 6'4" sophomore Candace Parker scored 18 points in the first 20 minutes of the game, and by all accounts was unstoppable by the ASU defense. "We just need to learn how to really key in on someone and be able to maintain everybody else as well," said Lady Devils senior Aubree Johnson.
The visitors continued to lead throughout the second half, with their highest lead topping at 24 points. However, though ASU experienced an unexpected lull, they came back in final eight minutes of the contest to tighten the gap on the scoreboard.
Though ASU may not have won, they have now been exposed to challenges that lie ahead against their Pac-10 opponents and later on in the season, during March Madness. They vow to continue to work on defensive rebounding, inexperience at the post, and staying out of foul trouble. "All of the things we didn't do today I feel like we're going to do," said ASU Coach Turner Thorne. ". . . The things we didn't do, we didn't do because it's early. . . [And] if we can learn from things then I think we'll be, at the end of the year, in a position to win a championship."
Although the Vols had court advantage this afternoon, ASU played well says Coach Turner Thorne. "74 points should be enough to beat body. . ."
Westerberg finished with a team high 21 points, followed by Reagan Pariseau, 15, and Briann January, 14. Johnson also had a good game with collecting seven rebounds. While ASU was held at a game average 46.9% shooting accuracy, they advantageously completed 85.7% of free throws. Both Co-Captains, Westerberg and Johnson, found themselves in foul trouble during the game.
The Tennessee Vols were a challenge to ASU with constant zone pressure on defense and possibly the best transition team they will encounter this season. "If we missed something, they made us pay," said Coach Turner Thorne. "You can't give up 83 points and expect to win basketball games."
Despite the fact that ASU put up a good effort against the Vols, it was not enough to shut down their opponent's offensive run. "We took it upon ourselves so take great pride in our defense and after that the offense just flowed." Said Tennessee Junior guard Alexis Hornbuckle.
This holiday weekend the Sun Devils will face off against a few of the top 25 teams in the nation at the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam competition. Their first match up will be against Western Kentucky on Friday and then move on to play either Penn State or Rutgers the following day.
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