"We are a smart team and work to our strengths," said senior Briann January, "Last game our advantage was in the post, but this game our guards were firing from everywhere. We can attack on both ends and that makes us hard to guard."
The Devils set the tone early by starting the game on a 12-0 run and didn't allow Tulane to score until just over five minutes had gone off the clock.
ASU led by as many as 21 points with 6:49 to go in the first half and ended the half up 45-25. The Devils perimeter defense was stressed early in the season by Turner Thorne and it showed today. The Devils dominated the Green Wave on the perimeter and Tulane could get nothing going.
"That was one of our focuses today, we got back to that," said January, "Making them do what we wanted to do."
"We wanted to make a statement on our defense," said Kate Engelbrecht, "We worked on pressuring them and making them turn the ball over, I think we did a good job."
"I thought we picked it up," said Turner Thorne in regards to her team's perimeter defense, "We talked about bringing the heat and getting back to 40 minutes of heck. We are getting there and are determined to be a better defensive team than last year."
Dymond Simon led the Devils with 15 points and seems to be a totally different player now that she has fully recovered from her knee injury from last year.
"She does things I could never dream about doing on the court," said Turner Thorne, "She is 100 percent back. It is just not the physical. Everybody sees how much she has matured as a player. She knows how to push through now and has gained toughness."
The Green Wave went on an 8-1 run in the second half to cut ASU's lead to just 51-39 with 14:01 left to play. Turner Thorne immediately called a timeout and ASU then went on a 13-0 run to take back control of the game.
"I just regrouped them," explained Turner Thorne, "When you get a big lead like that, which doesn't always happen, you go in as a coach and say its 0-0 at halftime and we weren't' beating them."
"They got some easy layups," said Engelbrecht, "When we get tired on defense we have to push through. After that lapse we stepped it up."
Engelbrecht led the way for ASU's bench who had a big afternoon. The senior contributed 13 of ASU's 40 points scored off the bench.
"This is how Kate looked last year before she broke her hand. She is doing it all, it is her time. She is one of the hardest working players I have ever coached." "I feel great about my bench," exclaimed Turner Thorne, "I have some kids that have been core players and gone to the Elite Eight. Becca (Tobin) has been amazing, she is getting opportunities and taking advantage of them."
Becca Tobin led ASU with 10 rebounds and fell just two points short of her first career double-double. ASU out rebounded Tulane 41-27, the second straight game ASU has dominated the glass.
"I like our rebounding, not love it," said Turner Thorne, "I think our next game we will get challenged in that a little more. We have yet to see a really big team."
The one negative that can be taken out of this game could be the 21 turnovers committed by ASU. Engelbrecht said that was the case with yesterday's practice.
"Probably has to do with our practice yesterday," said the senior, "Practice the day before normally sets the tone and we turned it over a lot yesterday. We wanted to work on that today and we didn't. That will be the focus for next week."
That next week will likely include a showdown with #6 Oklahoma and the dynamic duo of the Paris sisters. Oklahoma will play their second round matchup against Middle Tennessee St. on Wednesday and if they win will host the Sun Devils in the WNIT Semifinals. ASU would be looking for some revenge as the Sooners defeated ASU 69-57 last season in Cancun.
"We all knew they were on our side of the bracket, that was motivation," said January, "We didn't have a good outing last year, everyone is amped up to get another shot at them. We are up for the challenge."
Her coach couldn't agree more.
"We are very motivated to see them. Last year we weren't at full strength, we didn't get to play them the way we wanted to play them."
"Second week of the season to play a top five team on their home floor, it doesn't get more fun than that."