Sun Devils Take ASU Classic Championship

After struggling to get past Idaho St. on Friday night, the Arizona State Sun Devils women's basketball team held a players meeting on Saturday before the championship game of the ASU Classic. The message was clear. ASU needed to play with more energy and togetherness than they displayed the night before.

On Saturday they got that, for a half. No. 15 ASU used a big run to end the first half and held on the rest of the way for a 62-52 victory over Pepperdine at Wells Fargo Arena.

"I'm really proud of my team," said ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne. "Yesterday was not us, that was not okay. They regrouped and they are coming together as a team more. They recommitted themselves."

The Sun Devils (6-1) came out in the first half with a whole new attitude than they had just a night before, mostly due to energy.

"That is what we really focused on," junior forward Becca Tobin said. "We just know if we bring energy that everyone is going to be working off of each other's energy, it makes you want to play hard."

ASU used a 9-2 run to take a 17-9 advantage with 10:57 to play in the first half, but Pepperdine rattled off a 6-0 run to answer and cut the Sun Devils lead to just two.

That is when ASU turned it up a notch.

Starting with a three from sophomore guard Alex Earl, the Sun Devils closed out the first half on a 19-4 run that took a two point lead with 7:06 and turned it into a 36-19 lead at the break.

"It was a lot better of a halftime than we have been having," Orsillo said. "We knew they were going to come out hard in the second half, it was nice to have that lead coming back in the second half."

Turner Thorne was extremely pleased with her team's first half of play.

"I was thrilled with our first half," she said. "That is what we need to do for two halves. (If we do that) I will be very pleased every game."

A key to the run was ASU's three point shooting that had been struggling as of late. Earl, Orsillo and junior Tenaya Watson all had three pointers during the key stretch at the end of the first half.

The Sun Devils led by as many as 20 in the second half, but the Waves didn't die easy. ASU went 6:41 seconds without scoring and Pepperdine took advantage with an 11-0 run to cut the lead to 45-36 with 9:33 to play.

"We just got soft," Tobin said. "Every time we have a lead we let down. We need to pick it up."

After the lead was cut to nine, ASU didn't trail by less than that and built their lead back up to 14 with 55 seconds to play and the final margin was 10.

"Today was definitely a team effort," Orsillo said. "Every single player was cheering and talking and that was really cool. That was our focus. We are still learning and growing. Each game we are accomplishing something."

Orsillo, who was named the tournament MVP, led the Sun Devils with 13 points and four assists. Becca Tobin was also named to the all-tournament team and added 12 points and eight rebounds. Watson had nine points and Earl, who made her first career start, had eight.

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