Arizona State held Vanderbilt’s two high-scoring senior guards to two field goals in the first half, as the Sun Devils shot a season-high 62 percent and won their first NCAA Tournament game in five years, defeating the Commodores, 69-61, in the Notre Dame Region’s first round at Toledo Saturday.
The ninth-seeded Sun Devils (23-9) will face undefeated Notre Dame in the second round at 3:30 p.m. PT Monday night, while the Commodores (18-13) end their season having lost 10 of their final 12 matches.
Katie Hempen led ASU with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, Sophie Brunner scored 14 with nine rebounds, Elisha Davis scored 11 and dished five assists, Promise Amukamara had 10 points, and Kelsey Moos grabbed eight boards, while the bench outscored the Commodores’ 38-10.
Although she finished with 16 points, the SEC’s leading scorer, Christina Foggie (19 ppg) shot 4-of-11, and Jasmine Lister (14 ppg) was limited to nine points on 3-of-8 shooting.
“A huge part of our game plan was to limit their looks and touches,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said of the two guards. “Promise came out in the first half and really did a great job on her (Foggie). This team hasn’t been that consistent with our defense, so that was a huge victory for us today.”
A 10-2 run gave ASU an early 18-8 lead, and Foggie was held scoreless for the first 12 minutes. Vanderbilt came storming back, as Marqu’es Webb, who had a game-high 18 points, scored in the post to tie it at 20-20, and Morgan Batey gave the Commodores a two-point lead on the next possession.
Hempen, who was four-of-four from long range in the first half, made consecutive shots from the same spot in the corner to put ASU back on top, 26-22. Elisha Davis pushed the lead back to six on a jumper, Foggie scored her only field goal of the first half, and Davis found the bottom of the basket on a floater at the buzzer to give her team a 30-24 advantage at halftime.
“It felt great,” the 5-foot-3 sophomore Davis said of her first NCAA game. “Yesterday I was saying I was nervous, but not a bad nervous, whatever my coaches and my teammates need me to do, that’s what I do.”
Vanderbilt ‘s Kristen Gaffney knotted it again at 32-32, and Deja Mann answered right back with a three as the shot clock expired. Another Mann three increased the lead to 40-34 with 12 and a half minutes left.
Webb cut the lead to three from the line. After Hempen scored on a jumper, Foggie drained a three from the corner that had been so lucrative to Hempen in the first half, to pull the Commodores within two. The Sun Devils would never lose their footing again, keeping a commanding lead until the final horn sounded.
“It was a tough game,” Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said. “Arizona State really came out aggressive, that’s what they do. They took away a lot of our runs, by the time we adjusted to that and slowed down, we had trouble making layups and free throws.”