Sun Devils begin PAC-12 play with rout of Colorado
By Dylan Carter // Women’s Basketball Beat Writer for Blaze Sports
Boulder, COLO — The Arizona State women’s basketball team kicked off conference play with a 72-47 rout of Colorado in a stellar defensive showing. Junior forward Sophia Elenga shot 7-8 on the night for a career-high 17 points along with two assists and a steal.
Arizona State (10-3) dominated their last two games by an average margin of 45 points heading into an eight-day break. After a hectic start of seven games in the first 12 days of the season, the Sun Devils’ schedule eased significantly. They returned from their Christmas vacation with fresh legs for conference play; and it showed.
The Sun Devils’ defensive unit held up strong against a Colorado team that won nine of their first 11 games. The Buffaloes (9-3) were held to 33.3 percent shooting from the field and turned the ball over 15 times.
Coach Charli Turner Thorne toyed with her team’s rotation, allowing freshman Briyanna Sanders to flourish for five points and a team-high three steals in her 18 minutes. Forward Kianna Ibis, who leads the team in scoring with 11.6 points per game, also logged just 18 minutes in the contest. She finished with six points and six rebounds.
With this victory, Thorne notched her 450th career win. Not only is she the winningest coach in Sun Devils history, but she’s one of the 50 most winningest coaches in the history of NCAA women’s basketball.
One way that the Sun Devils have continued to string together wins is by crashing the glass. They out-rebounded the Buffaloes by double-digits with 19 of their 45 rebounds coming on the offensive glass. Their length and emphasis on boxing-out opponents has been one of the most important factors in the Sun Devils’ success thus far.
Guard Reili Richardson tied Elenga with a team-high seven rebounds on the night to go with four points, six assists and a steal. Her leadership presence and distribution have been vital for the Sun Devils since the injury to guard Sabrina Haines, who will remain sidelined the rest of the season. Richardson has stepped up to the adversary and leads the team in assists with 5.3 per game.
Contrary to the major scoring differential between these teams, ASU did not shoot particularly well. They connected on just 42.2 percent of their shots and made just four of their 15 three-point attempts. Even so, the Sun Devils lead for a whopping 91.2 percent of the game after taking and holding an early lead.
Forward Jamie Ruden continues to emerge as she poured in 16 points on 7-13 shooting from the field. Her three-point stroke continues to impress, as she hit on 2-4 shots from behind the arc. She currently leads the conference in three-point efficiency, hitting 56.7 percent of her shots from deep.
Arizona State hopes to build on their three-game winning streak as they visit the Jon M. Huntsman Center on New Year’s Eve for a matchup with the Utah Utes. This is the second game on a short two-game road trip before heading back to Tempe.
Dylan Carter is a beat writer for Blaze Sports covering ASU Women’s Basketball. You can reach out to him at email@example.com or follow Dylan on Twitter @DylanHCarter .