The preseason accolades are nice, but heading into this season the Arizona State women’s basketball team wasn’t sure how good it was. If these first two games are any indication, the Sun Devils deserve all the praise they’ve received.
Briann January had 14 points and four steals, and No. 13 ASU held No. 18 New Mexico to 28 percent shooting in the second half as the Sun Devils cruised to a 67-49 win in the Veterans Day Classic at Wells Fargo Arena on Sunday afternoon.
It was the second blowout win in a row for Arizona State, which defeated Nebraska 87-60 on Friday.
“We really wanted to place a gauge on where we were, because we had just been practicing against ourselves and against our scout team,” senior forward Emily Westerberg said. “Coming out against a top-20 team and seeing where we are — it’s huge for us.”
ASU employed a pressure defense throughout the contest, resulting in 13 steals. At one point midway through the first half, the Lobos had as many turnovers (eight) as shot attempts.
“Our game plan today was just to outwork this team, to work them for 94 feet for 40 minutes,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said.
The Sun Devils led by eight at the half, and it would have been more if not for some shooting woes. But they responded by hitting 50 percent of their field goals after intermission, and an 18-4 run to begin the half put the game safely in hand.
Westerberg, who didn’t score in the first half, scored eight in the first four minutes of the second half as ASU’s lead climbed.
Kayli Murphy had 10 points and four rebounds in 20 minutes, playing an increased role because of foul trouble to Westerberg and Aubree Johnson.
“I’ve learned so much just watching them in practice and in games that it’s easier to pick up where they left off,” Murphy said.
ASU faces off against Florida Atlantic at 6 p.m. today to wrap up the Veterans Day Classic. The Owls lost to Nebraska 93-53 on Sunday to fall to 0-2.