Devils Win Another Close Game

Just last week the talk around the media room was questioning how well Arizona State (19-6, 11-2 Pac 10) would play in a close game, because it hadn't played in one in quite some time. The Sun Devils got two in the same road trip right after that talk and passed with flying colors. On Saturday ASU won their school-record 11th straight victory, and downed UCLA (15-8, 6-6 Pac 10) 69-66.

"I'm just proud of our team, to be honest. I really am," said ASU Head Coach Charli Turner Thorne, "It's not easy to win 11 in a row. We really did a great job of just staying with it against a team that hit some big shots; we did a great job of keeping our poise."

The Devils started fast on Saturday, both offensively and defensively. Danielle Orsillo's layup with 15:01 to play capped ASU's 13-2 run to start the game.

ASU would take their biggest lead of the half with 7:00 to play in the 1st when Orsillo's layup made it 30-19. Briann January's jumper with a minute left in the half put ASU's lead back up to 12 at 37-25. Atonye Nyingifa closed the half with a layup and cut the Devils' lead to 37-27 at the break.

Briann January had 10 points at the break and Orsillo had 9. The two combined for 19 of the team's 37 points in the first and the team shot 64%.

The Bruins didn't die easy though and they came out of the locker room on the attack. UCLA's 11-2 run was capped by two free throws by Nyingifa and the Devils lead was just 39-36 with 13:56 to play.

The game stayed close throughout most of the second half before the Bruins finally took a lead with 5:44 to play on a layup by Moniquee Alexander. On the next possession Lauren Lacey gave ASU the lead back on a jump shot set up by Orsillo.

Tierra Henderson's layup with 4:11 left tied the game at 58-58, but Becca Tobin answered with a layup and ASU lead 60-58 with 3:04 to play.

Erica Tukiainen hit a three pointer with 1:58 left to cut ASU's lead to 62-61. On the other end, January missed a three, but Sybil Dosty grabbed the offensive rebound and put it back up and in to make it 64-61. ASU then forced a UCLA turnover and Dymond Simon hit one of two free throws to give ASU a 65-61 lead.

Alexander got a put back basket to cut the lead to 65-63 and Briann January was called for an offensive foul to give the Bruins the ball back with 30 seconds left. Doreena Campbell tied the game up at 65-65 with a layup with 28 seconds left in the game.

After a timeout, Campbell fouled Simon and sent the junior to the line with the game on the line. Simon hit both free throws, but Sybil Dosty was called for a foul with five seconds to play to send Campbell to the line with a chance to tie. Campbell hit the first, but missed the second shot and ASU still held a 67-66 lead with five seconds left. Simon was again fouled and she hit both to ice ASU's seventh straight victory over UCLA.

"Oh, my God, that's a great feeling, very exciting that I could do something for my team tonight," said Simon said, "This was a big test for us, and we're showing a lot of toughness. I'm so happy we came through tonight. We're getting better every day, and this was just a great win."

January led the Devils with 21 points and Simon chipped in 19 points. The pair was instrumental in holding off each Bruin's run and hit big shots down the stretch to help cement the school record. With Stanford defeating Cal on Saturday, the Devils moved within a half game of the Bay Area schools for first place in the conference.

"It's pretty awesome, you know?" laughed January, "our wins, they haven't always been pretty. But we've battled through, and we've shown some tremendous toughness along the way, and we just want to keep it going."

ASU will have a whole week off before they look to keep it going because next week is Arizona week. The Devils head down to Tucson next Saturday to take on the Wildcats (9-14, 2-10 Pac 10), who take on USC tomorrow at the Galen Center. ASU routed UA 75-38 on January 24th in Tempe. Tipoff is at 2 PM next Saturday at the McKale Center.

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