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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Sun Devils overpower UA with swarming defense

Rebecca Noble
ASU guard Arnecia Hawkins (1) navigates past Arizona guard JaLea Bennett (33) during ASU’s 62-47 win over Arizona on Sunday, Jan. 24 in McKale Center. The Wildcats dropped to a 11-9 record overall on the season.

ASU defeated Arizona 62-47 Sunday night in McKale Center, led by double-digit scoring efforts from Arnecia Hawkins and Katie Hempen. It was the second time in three days the No. 8 Sun Devils beat their in-state rivals.

The loss is the Wildcats’ fifth in their last six games as their record dropped to 11-9 overall and 2-6 in Pac-12 Conference. Meanwhile, ASU is now 17-3 overall with a perfect 8-0 conference record.

Arizona was competitive for most of the game against ASU on Friday and was hoping to improve on that effort, but the Sun Devils had other plans.

ASU came into the game boasting one of the conference’s best defenses and its swarming full court press made it difficult for the Wildcats from the start.

The Sun Devils were able to force three quick turnovers and, after a three by Hawkins, took an 11-4 with 5:52 left in the quarter.

“They came out very intense and I think we didn’t come out and match that,” Arizona guard Malena Washington said. “We came out kind of flat.”

The Wildcats were unable to stop the bleeding and the run ballooned to 19-4 in the Sun Devils’ favor after a trio of jumpers by Hawkins and Kianna Ibis. Hawkins finished with a game-high 19 points.

LaBrittney Jones ended the run with a layup at the end of the quarter, but the damage was already done as the Wildcats were down by 13 heading into the second quarter.

With Taryn Griffey still away from the team, Washington became the only true point guard that Arizona head coach Niya Butts had at her disposal. She played a career-high 32 minutes and though Butts was satisfied with her performance, Washington didn’t get enough help from her teammates.

“She played a lot of minutes and only turned it over three times, the problem was we just didn’t have anyone else step up at point guard,” Butts said. “She was having to handle the ball an awful lot, so she was getting fatigued and then because she was having to dribble the wings weren’t open like we needed to, but we have to work on that again this week.”

Washington les the team with 17 points and four assists, but the offense as a whole was stagnant and the turnovers piled up.

“I don’t think we were intense enough with the basketball,” Butts said. “We weren’t focused, really casual and they applied a lot more pressure than they applied in the first game and I thought that gave us some pause and instead of responding to that with more aggressive play, we kind of took steps backwards.”

ASU continued to add to its lead in the second quarter. Hempen started it with a 3-pointer to put ASU up by 16 and drained a pair of jumpers later in the quarter to give the Sun Devils a 34-14 edge at halftime. Hempen tallied 14 points on the night.

The Sun Devils as a team shot 13-of-26 from the field in the first half and nearly one third of those points came off turnovers. The Wildcats had 16 turnovers in the game with 12 of them coming in the first half.

“They were absolutely getting anything they wanted,” Butts said. “We didn’t get anything from our bench, we didn’t get anything from our first five and just talked about coming out in the second half and making it a game.”

The Wildcats did improve in the final two quarters as Butts had hoped, as they outscored the Sun Devils 33-28 in the second half. But the early hole Arizona dug itself into proved to be too much to overcome.

Washington scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half and Jones had eight second-half points, as Arizona was able to cut the deficit down to 12 late in the fourth quarter; but by that point, there simply wasn’t enough time for a comeback.

Arizona will try to regroup when it hits the road to face Oregon State and Oregon on Friday and Sunday respectively.

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