Devils Come Up Short, Fall To Duke

The two problems that have haunted the Arizona State Sun Devils all season long have been defending a good post player and defeating a ranked team. Chante Black and the 9th ranked Duke Blue Devils ensured that those problems would revisit as the Blue Devils knocked ASU out of the NCAA Tournament 67-59 at Comcast Center in College Park, Maryland.

"Our hats off to Duke. They made a few more plays than us tonight," said ASU Head Coach Charli Turner Thorne, "They are a tremendous team and we wish them the best of luck. I am very proud of my team and the effort we put forth but we just fell a little bit short. I think we have a lot to build on with the majority of our team coming back. We might not have gotten to an elite level, but we had elite seniors (Jill Noe and Reagan Pariseau) this year and we are going to miss them a lot."

Good post players have haunted the Devils all season long and Duke's Chante Black continued the trend of post players having career nights against ASU. Black finished with career highs in points and rebounds, 26 and 13 respectively.

"Chante Black hurt us, not only on the boards but in scoring. I thought there post game really stepped up. They are a great rebounding team," said Turner Thorne.

"Rebounding has ‘been our Achilles' heel in the games that we've fallen short against the top ten teams," Turner Thorne said. "It's something that we're going to have to work on."

The Devils started out cold, making just one of their first six shots and fell behind 8-0. After falling behind 14-4, ASU rattled off a 14-4 run to tie the game at 18-18.

"I think the team came ready and very focused. I really loved that we had four assists on our first four baskets. Now, we didn't keep up that pace and that's something that we'll have to work on. We were very intense and I think it showed in our start," said Duke Head Coach Joanne McCallie, "Unfortunately, fast starts can haunt you a little bit because they can bait you into taking some quick shots and that did happen to us a little bit. We were shooting the ball quick and that helped Arizona State. They were patient."

The Devils defense held Duke to just those four points in nearly an eight minute span. Duke held a 27-24 halftime lead mainly due to Black, as she had 12 points and 9 rebounds in the opening frame.

The Sun Devils came out of the locker room hot on Sunday against Temple, but did the total opposite on Tuesday. Duke controlled the first 10 minutes of the second half, going on a 20-10 run and increased their lead to 47-34.

"We wanted to come out in the first five minutes and attack. Luckily we got some quick shots that we were able to make and some great plays for easy layups," said Duke guard Wanisha Smith.

ASU would not let their season end without a fight. They started to limit Duke's second chance points and put the clamps down on the defensive end and rattled off a 23-8 run that cut the Blue Devils' lead to just 59-57 after two Briann January free throws.

"We started being more aggressive and played our solid defense, attacking the rim like we knew we could and just got back to our style of basketball," said January.

But Duke proved down the stretch why they are a top 10 team, by hitting 8 of their 10 free throws to put the icing on the cake and to put ASU's record against ranked opponents at a dismal 0-10.

Next year looks promising for ASU, as they lose just two seniors. Post players Sybil Dosty and Lauren Lacey will have had a year under their belts and the Sun Devils will re-gain Danielle Orsillo who played in just one game this season due to a knee injury.

"We have a lot to build on," concluded Turner Thorne.

But they will have to do it without the heart and soul of their team, Pariseau and Noe, who saw the end of their Sun Devil careers on Tuesday.

"These girls are going to keep growing and figure those little things out," said senior guard Jill Noe, who scored four points in her final game after six seasons at ASU. "Next year, I have no doubt in my mind that they will beat those top-ranked teams."

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