Sun Devils Secure Tenth Home Victory in 61-41 Rout Over Washington
By Dylan Carter // Women’s Basketball Beat Writer for Blaze Sports
TEMPE, Ariz — In authoritative fashion, the Sun Devils (16-7, 7-4) defended their home-court in a 61-41 rout of the Washington Huskies (7-15, 1-10) on Friday evening.
While securing their tenth home-victory of the year, ASU allowed their second fewest points by an opponent this season, affirming their position as the PAC-12’s strongest defense.
It’s all coming together for the Sun Devils, who’ve struggled through injury, sickness and a grueling schedule in recent weeks. Having rallied from a difficult January, ASU built an insurmountable lead from the jump, connecting on each of their first ten attempts from the floor.
This is their second consecutive victory decided by a margin of at least 15 points. Each of the nine Sun Devils in rotation found their way into the scoring column with five players shooting 50 percent or better.
“That’s just how our team works, that’s Sun Devil basketball,” guard Robbi Ryan said. “We don’t have one star, it’s really a team effort. Whoever is hot, we pass them the ball. Nobody cares about stats.“
Ryan just so happened to have the hot hand tonight, scoring 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting. The slashing combo-guard emerged as one of the team’s most reliable scorers earlier in the season and has become a staple of coach Charli Turner-Thorne’s offensive game plan.
“Now you see this rising star coming along and her making better reads,” she said. “She probably forced a few things tonight, but in general she’s hitting seams with her drives and hitting her pull-up. It’s all attributed to her hard work.”
In a remarkable display of two-way dominance, the Sun Devils jumped out to a 36-16 lead at the half after holding the Huskies to just five points in the second quarter. Surged by forward Courtney Ekmark, who scored 10 of her 15 points in the first half, the ASU offense dictated the game’s pace throughout the ballgame.
Ekmark has begun to find her stride late in the season, having scored double digits in three of her last four games.
In addition to her scoring, Ekmark has been one of the teams most effective rebounders. She doubled the rebounding efforts of Washington’s leading rebounder, Mai-Loni Henson, with her game-high eight boards in the contest. Ekmark’s high IQ and veteran presence have left a major mark on the Sun Devils’ recent victories.
“She was the warrior that we needed her to be tonight,” Thorne said. “She has incredible toughness in terms of being able to push herself and I do think she’s just playing better and better offensively.”
Forward Kianna Ibis had a quiet night offensively, but made up for her lack of scoring with a tremendous defensive performance. With Washington hoping to switch leading scorer Amber Melgoza on to the Sun Devils’ bigs, Ibis managed to stand her ground and play smart and effective defense throughout the night. In addition to her effectiveness on-ball, Ibis rotated around the rim and blocked three shots.
Although their lead held firm, ASU put on a sloppy second half performance. After coming out of the gates with reckless abandon, the Sun Devils turned the ball over 11 times and shot just 40.9 percent in the half. Even so, their lead never fell below 18 points.
The Sun Devils, riding the momentum of two enormous victories, will meet the Washington State Cougars for the first time this season on Sunday afternoon.
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 .