Lady Devils Take Control in Rout of UCR

The Sun Devils didn't come out with a strong first half on Sunday night at Wells Fargo Arena. Their first half was filled with fouls and turnovers, maybe partially caused by the late start. But ASU took control with a big second half and used their swarming defense to rout UC Riverside 68-45.

"I think that is the best defense we have played this year," said ASU Head Coach Charli Turner Thorne, "UC Riverside, I am predicting, will win their conference and go to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year. They probably run the best motion offense of anyone in the country and I thought we just worked them and didn't allow them to play together and see each other. I am really pleased with this game."

The first half wasn't very pretty for ASU. The Highlanders took a 13-11 lead with 7:46 to play in the first half. A 9-5 Devil run vaulted that lead to 22-16 with 2:24 left in the half, but UC Riverside closed the half on a 4-2 run that made it 24-20 at the break.

"This is the first time we played this late, we felt the team out for the first half," said ASU Guard Briann January, "We really weren't playing our pressure defense and doing what we needed to do. Halftime gave us a change to adjust and do what we wanted to do."

ASU certainly did what they wanted to do in the second half, as they completely dominated the final twenty minutes. ASU scored the first seven points of the second half to build a 31-20 lead, but that was just a sign of things to come. ASU lead 35-25, but a 10-0 run sparked by six straight points off the bench from Kirsten Thompson and a three from Briann January made it a 43-25 game.

"She had a great stretch when we were pulling away," said Turner Thorne of Thompson, "I think at the end she got tired and rushed some shots, but she was huge. It was right when we pulled away and he benched his starters."

Turner Thorne credited the second half surge to just holding onto the ball and getting the shots they wanted to get.

"We stopped turning the ball over and got shots up," explained Turner Thorne, "We had 13 turnovers in the first half and it wasn't a high possession game. We didn't finish great in the first half, poor percentage and turnovers yields 24 points."

"I did feel that we could wear them down and crank it up and get more transition in the second half. In the games when we had a lot of turnovers, it's been in the first half and we have always adjusted."

ASU dominated the glass and out rebounded the Highlanders 43-19. ASU grabbed 20 offensive rebounds and was led by sophomore Becca Tobin's career high 13 rebounds.

"Becca is playing so well right now," said Turner Thorne, "She gives us not only rebounding but is figuring out how to score on the offense and playing solid defense. She is like an Aubree Johnson and rebounds every shot that goes up."

Tobin knew that she could best help her team on the glass, so that is what she worked on improving in practice.

"I felt like that is what we need to focus on right now, so that is what I focused on," said Tobin, "If one of us isn't getting the rebound, we are tipping it to someone else so they can get it."

The competition only gets tougher for ASU, as the Devils now travel south to Austin to take on the 6th ranked Texas Longhorns on Thursday. Texas rolled past defending national champion Tennessee on Sunday winning 73-59.

"They are pretty good," said Turner Thorne of Texas, "They are better than they were last year and we were shorthanded. They got a lot better through that season, from what I've seen they are like us and have a lot of weapons."

"They are longer and more athletic than us and they really know who they are. Last year they didn't know who they were yet, now they know who they are. We are excited."

After falling to Texas last season, January says that revenge can be used as a motivational tool.

"They are a great team; they looked great against Tennessee today. If we stick to our game plan we will be good. Revenge is something we are definitely looking for, a little motivation."

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