November 26, 2004
For a team that is confident in its low-block players, the Arizona State women’s basketball team knows its success has a direct link to its ability to get the ball inside and its performance at the free-throw line.
That strategy will be put to the test today, as ASU (2-1) opens play in the University of Texas-San Antonio Thanksgiving Classic in San Antonio against Seton Hall at 4 p.m. It is the first-ever meeting between the Sun Devils and the Pirates (1-1).
ASU will then play Prairie View A &M (1-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday.
With pressure defense, ASU forces turnovers — the Devils have forced more than 26 per game in three games so far this season — and therefore looks to score in transition or from the line.
"The ideal offensive game, the ideal offensive possession, is getting to the free-throw line every possession," ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said after Saturday’s 70-45 over San Diego. "That would be the perfect offensive game. You’ve got to put pressure on people to guard you."
Though the Sun Devils exposed a major gap in talent and depth compared with San Diego when it ran away with the game at the end of the first half, ASU was inefficient from the free-throw line.
The Sun Devils made just 12-of-22 attempts against San Diego on Saturday. A 7-for-9 performance at the line by Emily Westerberg, however, proved to be important during the Sun Devils’ comeback from an early deficit.
At one point, the 6-foot Westerberg, taking advantage of a mismatch with a shorter defender on her, scored nine consecutive points for ASU, including a free throw with 5:40 left in the first half that tied the score at 19 after San Diego had held the lead from the outset.
"You need to score in transition, you need to score from outside, and you need your free-throw points," Westerberg said.
"You need to get to the line and you need to make them. One of our main goals, even in the Pac-10, is really being aggressive and getting to the free-throw line because we know that can change the course of a game."
ASU shot 73 percent from the free-throw line in its games against Virginia and LSU to open the season after shooting 72 percent last year.