Sun Devils cruise past Buffalo 76-57 to begin the Sun Devil Classic

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

TEMPE, AZ — The Arizona State Sun Devils (6-2) commenced their annual ASU Classic with a 76-57 victory over the Buffalo Bulls (4-1). Forward Kianna Ibis was a force to be reckoned with as she capped off the Wells Fargo Arena’s Star Wars themed afternoon with 18 points and six rebounds.

Ibis put on a shooting clinic as she connected on five jump shots in the first half. The junior forward generally operates in the paint, but displayed a soft and accurate touch in her shooting stroke against Buffalo’s lengthy forwards. Her multifaceted skillset in the halfcourt is a primary reason for her emergence as the team’s leading scorer.

(Photo: Weston DeWitt / Blaze Sports)

“It was a little bit hard because they were smothering and pinching in on every drive or every mid-post flash,” Ibis said. “Trying to move the ball was one of our big emphasises.”

Both teams came out of the gate aggressive, resulting in tough defense and a slew of turnovers by both sides. Buffalo struggled to string together a successful run with seven turnovers and just five made field goals on 11 attempts in the opening period. The Sun Devils performed similarly, connecting on just 37.5 percent of their shots in the quarter.

This all changed in the second quarter when junior guard Sabrina Haines took over with 10 points including two difficult shots from behind the arc. Her aggressive play was a major catalyst in the Sun Devils’ dominant second quarter, where they scored 28 points.

Coach Charli Turner Thorne was pleased with Haines’ production.

“Sabrina really stepped up and played like the veteran we needed her to,” Thorne said. “I thought Sabrina played a really complete game for us, because she had a few fouls but overall, she took the top kid, worked hard to contain her, came down and made plays.”

Buffalo entered the fourth quarter down by 11 points, but were unwilling to give up the game. They began the final period with two offensive rebounds and an and-one layup by guard Katherine Ups, who finished with 13 points.

This would not last, as the Sun Devils’ defensive rotations and basketball IQ prevailed. Early in the final quarter, Haines was pummeled to the ground on an offensive foul by guard Cierra Dillard. As her teammates rushed to pick her up, Haines sported a proud grin for forcing the turnover. On the next play, she drained a three-pointer to extend the Sun Devils’ lead to 13 points.

Dillard led the Bulls in scoring with 18 points on 5-9 shooting along with three steals. She scorched the Sun Devils for 15 points in the first half, but became a primary focus of the defense and converted on just one field goal after halftime.

Guard Reili Richardson continues to distribute under Thorne’s offense scheme. The sophomore floor general finished with five points and a game-high 10 assists. She singlehandedly out-assisted the Bulls, who finished with seven in the afternoon. Her ball handling and court vision are a crucial aspect of ASU’s spacing the floor and shot creation.

“It’s just what she does, she’s an exceptional playmaker. She really sees the floor,” Thorne said. “She has definitely got a great gift in terms of passing.”

Arizona State will go on to face the UC Riverside Highlanders tomorrow afternoon to round out the ASU Classic. That matchup will tip off at 2:30 PM MST.

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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