5th-seeded seed ASU basketball stormed past 4th-seeded Miami 57-55 to continue its postseason run in the NCAA Tournament.
Repetition breeds excellence.
In the case of Charli Turner Thorne and her team, it was the repeated number of close games Arizona State just fell short of closing throughout the regular season.
But finally, the Sun Devils managed to break through to that excellence.
In the second round of the NCAA Tournament, ASU (22-10) pulled out a hard-fought victory over Miami (25-9) 57-55 to book a ticket for its first Sweet 16 since 2015.
The Sun Devils used a 19-12 fourth quarter to stun the Hurricanes after Miami led for the majority of the second half.
After beginning the game with an 18-11 first quarter, the ASU offense went frigid in the second and third quarters.
The Sun Devils shot a combined 7-for-31 from the field (22.6 percent) in the two periods. This allowed Miami to not only take the lead, but to increase it to five by the end of the third.
But just when it looked like it was going to get away, the Sun Devils stepped up and did something they struggled with all season.
Tied at 53 apiece with under two minutes remaining, senior Sophia Elenga hit a go-ahead jumper from the top of the key to give ASU the lead late.
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Then after Miami tied the game at 55, Robbi Ryan tipped an inbound pass to Courtney Ekmark. Ekmark passed the ball upcourt to Ryan, who took the ball to the rim, drawing a shooting foul.
Going to the line game tied, with five seconds left, Ryan hit the pair of free throws of the Sun Devils.
Down two, Miami called a timeout and drew up a play for senior forward Emese Hoff.
The Hurricanes inbounded the ball to Hoff, who got a contested shot at just rimmed out for Miami, sending the Hurricanes packing and the Sun Devils on to Portland.
While ASU pulled out the victory, it was not easy by any means.
The Hurricanes took advantage of an undersized ASU frontcourt to control the boards, with a plus-11 advantage, but struggled to capitalize off 12 offensive rebounds recording only two second-chance points.
Miami redshirt junior Beatrice Mompremier recorded a season-high 22 rebounds, but was limited on the offensive end with six points on 3-for-12 shooting.
Mompremier was one of three Hurricane starters to be held under double-digit scoring, as the Sun Devils’ defense controlled the paint, limiting the talented bigs for Miami.
“I mean, I thought Nea Nea (Charnea Johnshon-Chapman) did a very good job,” senior Kianna Ibis said. “I thought Sophia did an amazing job and our guards really helped us out today.”
It was a team-effort through and through for ASU.
With 10 players recording over 13 minutes for the Sun Devils, Turner Throne turned to her bench time after time to keep her starters fresh throughout the contest.
One player in particular that shined off the bench was junior Jamie Ruden, who recorded 10 points for ASU on 4-for-9 shooting from the field.
“I just tried to take any opportunity my teammates could create for me and they were really encouraging me and hyping me up to keep shooting,” Ruden said. “That helped me a lot to just keep that confidence going.”
Ruden hit a key pair of threes, one bringing the Sun Devils within one at the start of the fourth quarter.
Her contribution off the bench was a catalyst in the ASU victory.
And with the victory the Sun Devils advance to the Sweet 16 after three straight second round exits in the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m so proud of them,” Turner Thorne said. “This group’s been to the NCAA Tournament every year but this has been elusive to us, so to finally take the step – not final step, next step.”
“But we know we can make that final step.”
ASU travels to Portland next week, to play the top-seeded Mississippi State Bulldogs, who defeated Southern and Clemson this weekend.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.