The No. 20-ranked Arizona State women’s basketball team snapped a three-game losing streak and fell back to its late-game dramatics with a 55-51 win over Colorado Friday at Wells Fargo Arena, an affair that had 17 lead changes.
It was the ninth win for the Sun Devils (21-6, 10-5 Pacific-12) by four or less points, a string that included a 68-66 win at the once-ranked Buffaloes (14-12, 4-11) Jan. 26. ASU had lost its previous three games by 19, 26 and 11 points at Arizona, Stanford and California, and this marked the third-straight loss for Colorado, which opened the season with nine-consecutive wins.
“It’s who we are,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “We don’t really blow people out. It was nice to get over the hump today, we have a very young team. The two things we said we needed to do to win were: limit their free throws and limit their second-chance shots.”
After a mostly-even first half, ASU led 22-19 at the break. The Buffaloes recorded the first four points of the second half to take the lead before freshmen Sophie Brunner and Kelsey Moos scored for the Sun Devils.
Colorado took its next lead, 35-34, with 11:10 to play when its leading scorer, Arielle Roberson, hit a three.
As she often does at critical times, Arnecia Hawkins drained a three from the corner two minutes later to put ASU up 37-36. After Rachel Hargis scored in the paint for Colorado, Hempen hit a trey, and ASU guard Promise Amukamara layed one in on a fast break to give her team a four-point advantage.
It didn’t last as the Buffaloes scored five, capped with an Ashley Wilson three. The teams traded baskets, until an Elisha Davis three put ASU up two with three minutes left. Out of a timeout, Jen Reese quickly tied it at 49-49. The Buffaloes had another timeout, which only resulted in a turnover and Davis perfectly finding a wide-open Moos under the basket for ASU with just over a minute remaining.
“We just played team basketball today,” Moos said. “We kind of got away from that in the past three games, and that was a big focus, great team basketball and team defense.”
Hempen and Mann would ice the game from the line and move the Sun Devils into sole-possession of third-place in the conference.
“We played to their strengths, and I think we did a lot better job boxing them out,” Hempen said of what was different from the first Colorado game.
Hempen would lead the Sun Devils with 13 points, including 3-of-4 from long range, Mann scored nine, Brunner recorded seven rebounds, and the 5-foot-3 Davis dished a game-leading five assists to go along with six rebounds on the defensive end.
“She might be our best rebounding guard right now,” Turner Thorne said of Davis. “She just gets in there, she’s playing probably the second-most minutes of anybody, she has a high motor. She doesn’t have to box out, so she just gets in there. I love that, I’ve had some point guards who have been great rebounders, and she’s doing a great job of that.”
Reese led Colorado with 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting and Lexy Kresl (of Paradise Valley/Shadow Mountain HS) scored 11. Roberson grabbed a team-high six rebounds and scored eight.
“Reese is a great player and we had to deny her the whole game,” Moos said. “The key is to do the work before, so she doesn’t get the ball.”
The Sun Devils will play their final home game at 1 p.m. Sunday versus Utah, where seniors Joy Burke, Adrianne Thomas and Deja Mann will be honored. Colorado is at Arizona, which is also celebrating its final home game, at 3 p.m. Sunday.