Ekmark drops 23 points, ASU scores seven three pointers, defeats Arkansas in final non-conference matchup
By Ethan Schmidt // Women’s Basketball Beat Writer for Blaze Sports
TEMPE, Ariz — Arizona State women’s basketball dismantled the Arkansas Razorbacks, 89-43, at Wells Fargo Arena on Sunday afternoon in its final non-conference game before Pac-12 play.
UConn transfer Courtney Ekmark scored a career high 23 points for ASU (9-3). The redshirt junior made five straight three-pointers to start the game and finished with seven to tie the ASU women’s basketball record for most three-pointers made in a game.
“I’ve been trying to stay with things and stay positive even though shots haven’t been falling as much as I’d like for them to be at the beginning of the year,” Ekmark said. “But you just have to keep shooting and my teammates kept finding me the ball and finding the hot hand so it was really fun.”
Former ASU star and current Indiana Fever guard Briann January holds the record of seven three-pointers made in a game. She is in her first season as assistant coach for ASU.
“I have no doubt she will break it at some point this year,” January said about Ekmark’s performance. “We’ve just been waiting for her to go off like this. She’s a great, phenomenal shooter and we’re going to keep feeding her the ball because she can put it in there.”
ASU dominated the game from start to finish. The Sun Devils finished the first quarter with a 26-8 lead and forced 12 turnovers on Arkansas.
The lead drastically increased when Arkansas (8-4) went scoreless for almost seven minutes the second quarter. ASU went on a 20-0 run in that span to end the first half with 52-14 lead.
ASU did not let off the gas in the second half and continued the strong performance. The Sun Devils reached a 50-point lead, their largest of the game, early in the fourth quarter.
“We had our team prepared for a one possession game,” Turner Thorne said. “Arkansas has been on a roll and playing really well, putting up big numbers. But we also knew they hadn’t been pressured and hadn’t had things taken away. And if we did what we thought we could do, we could have good success.”
Success was found on both sides of the ball. ASU’s offense scored 31 points off the 23 turnovers forced by the defense. Every Sun Devil scored at least one basket in the win.
Sophomore forward Jamie Ruden extended her hot shooting. Ruden notched 14 points and made all four of her three-point attempts.
“I’ve been talking about our perimeter shooting all year and just awesome for Courtney to break out today and Jamie to continue to do what she does. This is what we need going into Pac-12. We need people taking turns. I’m really excited about how our offensive roles are continuing to develop and grow and people are gaining confidence.”
ASU shot a remarkable 60 percent from the perimeter with 12 threes made, second-most in a game in program history. The team concluded with 51 percent from the field collectively.
Junior college transfer Sophia Elenga snatched a career best nine rebounds and sophomore Reili Richardson guided the offense with a team best nine assists in Thursday’s game.
“I think we are in a good place,” Ruden said. “We had a lot of momentum coming off that last game and I think our defense is coming together more. We obviously still have a lot of work to do, but we are rotating better and helping each other. Offensively, we hit our shots today and it felt good.”
The Sun Devils will have some time off until they begin Pac-12 play. ASU goes on the road to face Colorado on Friday, Dec. 29 with tip-off set for 7 p.m. MST.
Ethan Schmidt is a beat writer for Blaze Sports covering ASU Women’s Basketball. You can reach out to him at email@example.com or follow Ethan on Twitter @TheEthanSchmidt .