Lady Devils open with impressive win

It wasn't a normal opener for the 16th ranked team in the country. This certainly was no push over. The Arizona State Sun Devils had a challenge on opening day and they passed with flying colors. They welcomed in a South Dakota State team that finished 32-3 last season and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and returned the majority of its team.

The Sun Devils (1-0) clamped down on defense in the second half and got dominating efforts inside from junior Becca Tobin and senior Kayli Murphy and took down the Jackrabbits 73-64 in front of 2,891 at Wells Fargo Arena.

"Great home opener, this is the best team we have opened with in a long, long time," ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "We took them out of everything they wanted to do. We frustrated them and wore them out."

The first half was a back and forth affair marred with turnovers and sloppy play. The Sun Devils took a 38-36 lead into the break, despite shooting 36% and allowing SDSU (1-1) to shoot 46% in the first half.

"If we made a mistake we paid," Turner Thorne said in reference to the Jackrabbits offense in the first half, "Every time we were late they drained a three. That shows you how good they are."

The Sun Devils adjusted in the locker room and started the half on an 8-3 run, with the Jackrabbits missing 12 of their first 14 shots. ASU slowly took control of the game and never led by less than seven points after going up 46-39.

"I thought we did a good job of clamping in on our defense," Turner Thorne said. "We just played a lot better on the ball defense. We were jumping out of our stance and we didn't dig in like we needed to dig in. We just did a better job."

Murphy, who recorded her second career double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds, said that they just weren't staying in front of their man and getting back in transition.

"We talked about that at halftime," Murphy said, "South Dakota is a great team, but with the defense we play we have to keep our man in front of us and we weren't doing that."

Senior guard Danielle Orsillo, who chipped in 12 points, five assists and four steals said the defensive clamp down started with Murphy.

"On defense it was like Kayli was everywhere," Orsillo said. "She played really well. Every key play you saw #21 in there."

Helping out Murphy inside was Becca Tobin, who recorded a career high 18 points in her first career start. Tobin was much more aggressive and looking for the basketball than she was in her first two seasons.

"My teammates did a great job of putting me in position to score," Tobin said. "I'm going to be more aggressive if they are going to get me the ball in good spots."

Turner Thorne has seen the aggressive Tobin every single day in practice.

"That is how she is practicing," Turner Thorne said. "She is practicing aggressive and wanting the ball, she did a fantastic job."

With the mixture of newcomers playing with veterans and facing a very talented team on opening day, Turner Thorne was pleased with the outcome.

"South Dakota St. is a team that can make a deep run into the tournament," Turner Thorne said. "We are young and still have a lot to work on. We scored easier than I thought we would. We just need to slow down at times, but a great win."

Now the Devils head out east for an early season road trip that they haven't had in awhile. ASU will take on Yale on Thursday and then travel to Xavier on Saturday. Following the east coast swing, ASU heads to Hawai'i for a tournament over Thanksgiving weekend.

Orsillo sees the early season trip as a great thing to build team's chemistry.

"I think it is going to be a great thing," Orsillo said. "When you are on the road you bond like no other. It is going to be really good for us, since I have been here we haven't had anything like this."

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