ASU basketball completed their non-conference schedule Thursday with a 66-52 win over Fresno State to extend their winning streak to seven games.
Arizona State once again relied on their defense as the Sun Devils defeated Fresno State 66-52 in their final non-conference game of the season.
Similar to their rematch with Arkansas this season, this was a much tighter game between the Sun Devils and the Bulldogs after ASU went into Fresno last season and won 81-49.
Before pulling away late, Fresno State stayed within striking distance as the Bulldogs kept the score within eight for most of the day.
Forward Courtney Ekmark got hot in the fourth quarter to finish with a game-high 17 points as Ekmark made five 3-pointers against Fresno State’s zone defense.
After not having faced zone defense for the first eight games of the season, ASU has played the last three games against zone defense winning by an average margin of 20.3 points.
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Ekmark said this was a big win, but they aren’t content with how they’re playing right now.
“It was important for us. It’s great to win before Christmas because I know we’re very competitive,” Ekmark said. “At the same time, we’re never content with how we play. We’re still hungry. We want to get better.”
It was another balanced effort for the Sun Devils as 11 scored with forward Kianna Ibis finishing right behind Ekmark with 15 points.
The Sun Devils will enter Pac-12 play with a 9-2 record riding a seven-game winning streak. They’ll open Pac-12 play on Dec. 30 at Arizona.
After the Pac-12 picked up two signature wins Tuesday with Stanford and Oregon defeating top-10 teams in Tennessee and Mississippi State, the Sun Devils are gearing up to what’s going to be a highly competitive conference season.
“It’s going to come down to a lot of one-possession games. We just have to keep working on our ball security,” Ibis said. “Right now, we’re turning the ball over with unforced errors. We just have to keep working and getting better.”
“It’s definitely fun (to play in the Pac-12),” Ekmark said. “That’s what you want to be playing in, a league that’s competitive and that’s definitely the Pac-12 so it’s going to be exciting.”
Head coach Charli Turner Thorne said she doesn’t believe the team has any glaring concerns, but believes the team is not where it needs to be heading into Pac-12 play.
“I think top-to-bottom, 1-12, the best conference in the country,” Turner Thorne said. “There’s not going to be an easy game in conference and we easily have three or four teams in the Final Four.”
Turner Thorne includes Arizona State in that conversation pegging the team as “dark horses” with Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State in the discussion.
Despite finishing the preseason 9-2, Turner Thorne is not satisfied where the team is right now.
“We’re pushing this team hard because we have super high standards for this season with what we think we can do,” Turner Thorne said. “I wouldn’t say we’re satisfied. Our goal was to win out after Louisville and we did that in pretty good fashion against a quality schedule.
“In that sense, I’m very satisfied. If you ever get satisfied, then you won’t keep getting better,” Turner Thorne said. “I think we’re very satisfied, very proud of what this team has done, especially since that Louisville game, and I think we know exactly what we need to do going into conference to keep improving.”
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.