The margin in the Pac-12 this season is finite and ASU basketball‘s struggles to do the little things is costing the Sun Devils in these tight games.
It wouldn’t be an Arizona State women’s basketball game without it going down to the wire.
For the fifth straight game, the Sun Devils were in a one-possession game, this time against UCLA, a team coming off three consecutive home losses.
Arizona State knew this would be a tough game considering the battles the Bruins and the Sun Devils have had in recent years.
The Sun Devils were coming off a grueling double-overtime win in Corvallis against then-No. 10 Oregon State in which forward Kianna Ibis played 41 minutes, guard Reili Richardson played 37 minutes and forward Courtney Ekmark played 36 minutes.
Head coach Charli Turner Thorne believed there might have been some hangover effect from Sunday’s game.
“The thing you don’t want after a big win kind of happened,” Turner Thorne said. “I thought we played a little tired and let up a little bit.”
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UCLA came read to play in what was an 11 a.m. MT tip off as thousands of kids packed Wells Fargo Arena to watch the game.
The Bruins were having its way in the paint as they had 20 of their 26 first half points in the paint with reserve forward Lauryn Hill having a day to remember.
Hill, who entered the game averaging 3.6 points per game, scored a career-high 17 points in 18 minutes of action.
She was tough to deal with in the paint as she grabbed four offensive rebounds as UCLA finished the game with 14 offensive boards.
Arizona State was outrebounded 40-37, just the third time all season the Sun Devils lost the battle on the glass.
“We were really soft on the ball all game and we didn’t want to be,” Turner Thorne said. “We didn’t rebound the way needed to rebound. We just weren’t locked in in our rebounding effort. I thought that really hurt us.”
Michaela Onyenwere, UCLA’s star player, was shut down for the majority of the game but hit a vital 3-pointer with 50 seconds remaining to give the Bruins a 58-57 lead. She finished with 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
Arizona State retook the lead on a drive to the rim by Richardson to give ASU a 59-58 lead with 35.1 seconds remaining.
UCLA, after calling a timeout before and during their final possession, drew a mismatch with Ibis defending guard Japreece Dean at the top of the key.
Dean made a slight crossover on Ibis and created an open 3-pointer, making it and giving UCLA a 61-59 lead. Richardson went coast-to-coast as clock winded down but was unable to convert the basket through contact.
UCLA had just two 3-pointers all game before making two in the game’s final minute to prevail and snap their four-game losing streak.
Arizona State will now face USC on Sunday, a team the Sun Devils have struggled against losing two of their three meetings.
In the Pac-12 race, this loss hurts as the Sun Devils now sit three games out of first place in the Pac-12 with the rest of the league playing Friday night.
For an all-important top-four seed, ASU sits three back in the loss column of 1-loss Oregon State and 1-loss Utah.
Road doesn’t get any easier for the Sun Devils as they host Arizona next Friday with the Wildcats grabbing the first meeting back in December.
Sunday’s game against the Women of Troy looms large.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.