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Sun Devils squeak past Miami by two to win ninth straight

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The Arizona State women’s basketball team fought from behind the entire first half and survived a rally from the Miami Hurricanes in the final minutes to prevail, 75-73, Saturday afternoon in Tempe to improve to 10-1.

The Hurricanes (6-4) jumped on a 7-0 start in the first minute and a half before Adrianne Thomas dropped in two free throws to put ASU on the board. Elisha Davis tied it at 9-9, and after Miami’s Necole Sterling scored a three, Katie Hempen answered right back with one of her own to knot it again at 12-12.

Miami scored the proceeding eight points, and an Arnecia Hawkins three brought the Sun Devils within five with eight minutes remaining until the half. ASU kept chipping away, and Deja Mann decreased the deficit to one, 32-31, at the 2:46 mark. Katie Hempen evened it at 33-33 with 40 ticks until recess, and after a Miami travel turned it back to the Sun Devils, Sophie Brunner scored two from the line with 10 seconds left to give ASU its first lead of the game, 35-33 at halftime.

“We really started slow on both ends of the floor,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “We weren’t transitioning and getting back on defense fast enough. We battled back, we’re still a young team, two thirds are underclassmen.”

ASU was able to sustain a two-or-three-possession lead throughout the second half and went up by as many as 11. Mann buried a gorgeous rainbow three to give her team an-eight point lead with eight minutes left.

Jassany Williams converted a traditional three-point play after a hard foul to bring Miami within three, 70-67, around the three-minute mark, and Keyona Hayes scored with a minute left to cut the lead to two. Hurricane coach Katie Meier called a timeout with the ball and 44.4 seconds. Adrienne Motley missed the drive to the basket, then fouled Adrianne Thomas, who iced two from the line, 73-69. Following a steal, Mann converted the second of two free throws on the next possession.

Miami’s Suriya McGuire scored two of her game-high 17 points to bring the Canes within a single possession 74-71, and Williams swiped the inbounds pass. Hayes, who scored 15, went to the line with 12 seconds left and connected on two, 74-73. Miami wound up with the ball again, but couldn’t get off a shot. Brunner was sent to the line, where she hit the scond of two, and Caprice Dennis missed the potential half court game winner at the buzzer.

“Our team was collectively tough and had that mindset that they’re not going to score,” Brunner said.

Thomas led ASU with 14 points, all from the line (14-of-17, compared to 0-of-2 from the field), and Hempen, Promise Amukamara and Kelsey Moos each recorded 10. Moos added eight rebounds, while Eliza Normen had seven. The Sun Devils were 27-of-36 on free throws as a team, compared to 14-of-18 for the Hurricanes.

“Pretty much that was the whole game plan,” Thomas said about getting to the line. “They had a pretty good press, so Charli told me to just go. We’re just full throttle sometimes, and they weren’t prepared to get back into their defense.”

Coach Turner Thorne praised the 5-foot-9 senior.

“Good luck with Adrianne Thomas in front of you,” Turner Thorne said. “That kid has a motor like no player I’ve ever coached, and she is as fast with the ball. She is so hard to guard."

Averaging 17.8 points per game, the sophomore Dennis was held to three points on 1-of-8 shooting in 22 minutes. Jessica Thomas scored 10, and Williams led the Canes with seven boards.

“The people who keyed in on her practiced really hard to make sure she didn’t make her average,” Adrianne Thomas said of Dennis.

After the Christmas break, ASU hosts Syracuse at 6 p.m. Dec. 30, and Morgan State is at Miami Dec. 28.

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