Arizona State guard Elisha Davis connected on a deep three in the waning seconds before halftime Tuesday, as the Sun Devils erased a 10-point deficit to tie the archrival Arizona Wildcats, 26-26, at the break.
It had all of the makings of a classic college basketball rivalry game, but in the second half, the No. 11-ranked team in the country took it to another level, outscoring Arizona by 24 to take a 60-36 victory at Tempe.
“Mentally, we weren’t quite ourselves early on,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “If we can do what we did this second half for the rest of the season, I think we’ll really finish strong. I think that’s what we haven’t done, is play that great defense without fouling for 40 minutes, and that’s what you can control, you can’t control making your shots.”
Coming out of a four-game winning streak decided by a combined 10 points, ASU improved to 20-3 and 9-2 in the Pacific-12, while the injury-hobbled Wildcats dropped their 11th straight to fall to 4-18 and 0-11 in the conference.
The seniors for Arizona came out hungry, as Kama Griffitts sank a three to put it up 7-4, then scored in the paint to give her team a five-point advantage. Midway through the first half, Carissa Crutchfield drove to the basket and added the free throw to double up ASU, 16-8. Breanna Workman gave the Wildcats a 10-point edge on the next possession, resulting in a Sun Devil timeout. The Wildcats were up six with a minute to play until halftime, but ASU senior guard Deja Mann and Davis both knocked down threes to knot it at 26-26.
“Part of my role is to score, so as long as I’m taking good shots, I’m going to keep taking them until the coach tells me to stop,” Mann said. “If you pass up an open shot, nine times out of 10, it’s going to be a tougher shot.”
Out of recess, Joy Burke quickly gave the Sun Devils their first lead since the early moments, and Mann recorded another three. A long-distance shot from Arnecia Hawkins put ASU in front by eight with just less than four minutes played in the second, opening the door for the blowout.
In the second half, ASU held Arizona to 23 percent shooting, as it shot 50 percent, and for the game the Sun Devil bench outscored the Wildcats’ 36-8.
ASU guard Katie Hempen led all scorers with 11 points, while Mann, Burke and Davis each had eight. Kelsey Moos grabbed nine rebounds, and Promise Amukamara swiped three steals. Griffitts led the Wildcats with 10 points, Crutchfield scored nine, LaBrittney Jones recorded nine rebounds, and Candice Warthen dished three assists, despite 1-of-10 shooting and seven turnovers.
Arizona has not won at Wells Fargo Arena since Feb. 26, 2000, and its last win over ASU was Feb. 13, 2011.
The same two teams will meet again at 1 p.m. Sunday at McKale Center in Tucson.