Arizona State kicks off the ASU Classic against Buffalo
By Dylan Carter // Women’s Basketball Beat Writer for Blaze Sports
Tempe, ARIZ.— The Arizona State Women’s basketball team (5-2) will kick off the ASU Classic with a Saturday afternoon matchup against the University at Buffalo (4-0) in Tempe. After a weeklong break in action, the rejuvenated Sun Devils hope to defend the Wells Fargo Arena.
Continuing their annual tradition, the Sun Devils will host three schools in a two-day competition. Fans attending the matchup with Buffalo will be treated to a Star Wars themed afternoon, where they’re encouraged to wear their favorite costumes and apparel.
Arizona State has been a force to be reckoned with at home to begin the season. They’re 3-0 at the Wells Fargo Arena and have won by an average scoring differential of 30.3 points at home.
Despite difficult losses against No. 6 Mississippi State and Green Bay, the Sun Devils capped the Cancun Challenge with a 72-48 victory over Columbia. Forward Jamie Ruden has emerged as a key role player for Coach Charli Turner Thorne. She’s scored 12 points in each of her last two games and has been a reliable contributor on the glass.
As the team’s leading scorer, Kianna Ibis and her wide array of skills have become evident to Sun Devil fans. Her team-high 11.1 points per game has come at an efficient 54.7 percent. This percentage ranks 11th in the competitive PAC-12, a conference with five teams currently ranked. Her versatility in the post has been a focal point for Thorne’s dynamic offense.
Paired with Ibis on the low block is Charnea Johnson-Chapman, who leads the team with 6.7 rebounds along with 9.7 points per game. She’s excelled as a pick-and-roll specialist and defensive menace.
Control of the paint will be a major key against this Buffalo team that has scored an average of 76.5 points per contest this season. Chapman will be matched up against Cassie Ousler, who has put up 13 and 14 points in her last two games respectively.
This will be the first ever meeting between the Bulls and the Sun Devils. Buffalo has won each of their first four games this season, but have yet to meet an opponent of ASU’s calibur. The Buffalo basketball program is hoping to grow after securing its most successful season since 1997 in last year’s campaign.
Buffalo’s backcourt rotation of Katherine Ups, Cierra Dillard and Stephanie Reed could cause problems for the Sun Devils. Their scoring and playmaking as a unit have been essential to the early-season success of their team.
Junior guard Sabrina Haines lost some traction in the Cancun Challenge. She averaged 7.7 points per game during three games in the circuit. Luckily for Thorne, Haines’ ability to draw fouls and convert on free throws has kept her afloat. She connected on 87.5 percent of her free throws in Cancun.
Despite her efficiency at the line, Haines was replaced in the starting lineup by another budding talent for ASU’s matchup with Columbia.
Guard Robbi Ryan flourished in Mexico, earning a spot on the Cancun Challenge All-Tournament Team. She averaged just below 10 points in the competition and shot a combined 75 percent from the field against the Phoenix and and the Lions.
Ryan is averaging the team’s second highest point total with 10 per game. The sophomore’s all-around skillset has been exemplified by her 25 rebounds, 22 assists and six steals on the season. Her motor and on-court determination have made her an important leader for this young Sun Devil squad.
The victor of this matchup will move on to face the winner of UNLV and UC Riverside. Arizona State will tip off on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 MST. The game can be heard on Blaze Radio Mixlr with Erik Ruby and Ethan Jordan on the call.
Dylan Carter is a beat writer for Blaze Sports covering ASU Women’s Basketball. You can reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Dylan on Twitter @DylanHCarter .