Lady Devils Use Size to Beat Vikings

Charli Turner Thorne knew that her team would have a considerable size advantage inside; she just didn't know it would be that big of a difference in the first round of the WNIT. The Sun Devils (1-0) outrebounded Cleveland State 39-22 and Sybil Dosty dominated the paint for 17 points and a career high 11 rebounds leading ASU to a season opening 76-59 win in front of 3,660 at Wells Fargo Arena.

"We controlled the boards that was kind of the difference," said Turner Thorne, "I wasn't going to bail my posts out, they have a five guard lineup and we need to be able to play good perimeter defense."

"We are a work in progress; we have to shore up some things. We had a lot of first game jitters. I thought we stayed with things well. They made shots, they are a good team, and they are going to do well."

The tallest player in the Vikings (0-1) starting lineup was 5-11 guard Kailey Klein, while ASU started a pair of 6-3 post players, in Sybil Dosty and Lauren Lacey.

"Our goal was to out rebound them by 20, that was our goal," said Dosty, even though ASU fell short of that goal by 3 rebounds.

Dosty certainly took advantage of the lack of Vikings size and made adjustments throughout the game as the Vikings changed the way they played her inside.

"I think Sybil is doing a great job of doing what we need her to do," said Turner Thorne, "Working to get those one and two footers and be our low block presence. They were fronting and helping early and aggressively, Sybil made the adjustment and that is a great player."

The Vikings held close with the Devils in the first half, before ASU used a 12-2 run to go up 22-9 with 11:02 to play in the first half. The lead was extended to 28-12 before Cleveland St. went on a 7-0 run of their own to cut the lead to single digits with 3:20 to play in the half.

But then it was Sybil Dosty time for the Devils as she scored the final 8 points of the half for ASU to give ASU a 36-22 lead at the intermission.

Dosty said that she was just doing her part to energize the team.

"Just getting rebounds, looking to box out and go for the ball. Coaches said our energy was getting down a little bit so however I can help and getting rebounds was what I was doing."

Cleveland State certainly didn't go away and they made it a game in the second half. The 2008 Horizon League Tournament Champions took advantage of sloppy play from ASU to keep the game within 10 for the first 10 minutes of the second half.

"I think we started off really well and came out aggressive," said senior Lauren Lacey who finished with 11 points, "We got lackadaisical at times, I think we had mental lapses and we kind of let up. We have to stay strong mentally for 40 minutes."

A layup by Kailey Klein cut the Devils lead to just eight with 8 minutes to go. Lauren Lacey answered with a layup of her own and Kate Engelbrecht hit her first shot of the night, a three pointer, and ASU led 60-47 with 6:30 to play. After a Klein layup, Engelbrecht connected from downtown again to give ASU a 63-49 lead.

Engelbrecht's clutch shots seemed to spark the Devils as they cruised the rest of the way, including a three point play the old fashioned way from the senior Engelbrecht.

"Kate is our best shooter," said Turner Thorne, "She works on it and we didn't see that last year because she broke her hand. I think she is passing up too many shots, but this is a big step. Her back to back threes were huge. I want her to shoot more."

Now the key is to actually get Engelbrecht to shoot more, something that she says she is more comfortable doing this season.

"I have a lot of confidence, it felt good to start off strong," said Engelbrecht, "I'm just looking for the right shot. We've been doing a lot of shooting in practice, getting in the gym a lot and shooting helps."

Turner Thorne was happy that the Vikings gave ASU a run, instead of the Devils just blowing them out. It gave her a chance to see her team have to step up and make plays and big shots.

"I think we pushed through things and stepped up and made plays when we had to. From a pure coaching standpoint the fact that we didn't blow them out and they hung around put a little more pressure on us. I thought that we showed poise and did that."

The Devils advance to the second round of the Preseason WNIT and will host Tulane on Sunday at 2PM, at Wells Fargo Arena. Tulane won their opening WNIT game 75-62 over Illinois St.

Sybil Dosty believes that ASU must shore up their defense in order to stay alive in the WNIT. "We had some good possessions and there were some bad ones. Doing what we are supposed to be doing on defense. We had a pretty good offensive night; our focus should be on defense."

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