ASU travels to Fresno State for first road matchup of the season

By Dylan Carter // Women’s Basketball Beat Writer for Blaze Sports

Arizona State guard Kiara Russell // (Photo: Weston DeWitt / Blaze Sports)

FRESNO, CA  —  The Arizona State women’s basketball (1-0) team will travel to Fresno, CA. tonight for a non-conference matchup with the Fresno State Bulldogs (1-0).

ASU will look to ride the momentum of their starting forwards heading into the Save Mart Center. Junior Kianna Ibis notched career-high totals in points (16) and rebounds (9) in the season opener, while her counterpart Courtney Ekmark contributed 12 points. Ekmark’s quickness and defensive tenacity will be crucial in slowing the Bulldogs’ offense

They’ll be tested by Fresno State forward Kristina Cavey, who’s coming off of her own career-high scoring performance of 21 points. The 6-foot-1 sophomore dominated the ball for Fresno State and will likely be their go-to scoring option.

Without a single senior between the two rosters, young players will need to make an impact. Freshman Bre’yanna Sanders and Eva Rubin both logged minutes in the season opener and may be relied upon to contribute early.

Sanders will be returning to her hometown of Fresno, where she played for Clovis West High School. Before coming to ASU this season, Sanders led the Golden Eagles to a victory in the 2017 CIF State Championship. Now on a collegiate level, she’ll have the opportunity to put on a show for her hometown once more.

The high-octane style of play that the Sun Devils have implemented resulted in 14 steals and 16 fastbreak points in their victory over UTSA. They’ll need to keep this up against Fresno State, who put up 81 points in their season-opener against Eastern Washington.

Arizona State barely missed the mark on the AP Top 25 rankings for Week 2 of the season. They finished with 41 votes behind No. 25 Kentucky with 56. Fresno State remains unranked.

With a major focus on up-tempo play, the guard trio of Sabrina Haines, Reili Richardson and Kiara Russell will be vital in orchestrating coach Charli Turner Thorne’s offense.

Russell has exhibited great ability as a ball handler and playmaker. Her team-high seven assists in the season opener was a testament to her importance at the guard position. If she can build off of that performance and continue creating plays for her teammates, the Sun Devils will have a huge opportunity to defeat Fresno State.

Haines and Richardson, on the other hand, are two of ASU’s highest volume scorers.

Haines emerged as a breakout candidate in the postseason of her 2016-2017 campaign. Her pull-up jumper and craftiness in traffic set her apart from opposing guards. Haines tied Ibis with 16 points to begin her junior season. Richardson will look to get back on track after scoring just four points on 2-6 shooting to start the year.

The game will tip off at 4:00 P.M. MT and will be shown on the Mountain West Network.

Dylan Carter is a beat writer for Blaze Sports covering ASU Women’s Basketball. You can reach out to him at dylanhuntercarter@gmail.com or follow Dylan on Twitter @DylanHCarter .

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