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Courtesy: Steve Rodriguez
No. 14 Sun Devil WBB Holds on to Defeat Utah, 65-62
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 01/24/2014
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SALT LAKE CITY – Deja Mann scored 18 points and Katie Hempen added 14 as the No. 14 Arizona State women’s basketball team held off a late Utah rally to come out on top 65-62.

With the win the Sun Devils (16-3, 5-2 Pac-12) improved their record away from home to 7-2 and remained perfect (7-0) in games decided by five points or less or overtime.

Coming off their first home loss of the season to fourth-ranked Stanford on Monday, there seemed to be little doubt that the Sun Devils would not bounce back after Mann hit the second of consecutive 3-pointers to put ASU up 57-49 with 4:35 remaining.

The Utes (8-10, 1-6), who were coming off a 59-57 upset of Washington State on the road in their most recent game on Sunday, proved their resiliency as they used a 13-4 run over a span of 4:01 to take a 62-61 lead with 14 seconds remaining. Danielle Rodriguez, who had five of her 11 points in the final 2:28, scored on back-to-back layups to give the Utes the lead.

After a timeout, the Sun Devils came down the length of the court and went straight to Sophie Brunner, who was fouled in the lane with nine seconds left. Brunner, who scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds, connected on a pair of free throws to give the Sun Devils a 63-62 lead.

On the ensuing possession, Rodriguez took the inbounds pass and took off down the right side of the court. Promise Amukamara, who was defending, managed to get in and disrupt Rodriguez’ dribble despite being clipped by a screen just passed the 10-second line. Rodriguez lost control of the ball out of bounds and the Devils were awarded the ball with 3.9 seconds left.

Hempen was immediately fouled and calmly went to the line and sank both free throws to extend ASU’s lead to 65-62.

With 3.5 seconds remaining and needing a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime, the Utes inbounded the ball to Michelle Plouffe, who caught the ball near half court. While being defended by Brunner, Plouffe dribbled along the near side and attempted to hit one of her teammates in the corner for a potential game-tying triple. However Utah was not able to get up a shot as Amukamara made another outstanding defensive play by intercepting the pass to seal the win.

The Sun Devils were able to come away with the win despite letting Utah shoot 52 percent from the floor. Plouffe (22 points, 9-17 FGs) and Rodriguez (11 points, 5-7 FGs) combined for 33 points to lead Utah. The duo shot 58 percent from the floor (14-24) while the rest of the team connected on only 36 percent of its shots (8-22).

ASU, which came into the game ranked No. 2 in the Pac-12 in FG percentage (44.3), was on point from the floor, too, shooting 47.8 percent. The Sun Devils were able to counter Utah’s effective shooting by turning the ball over only 13 times, the seventh time in their last 10 games that they have had 16 or fewer turnovers after averaging 20.9 in the season’s first nine games.

Although Mann’s 3-pointer at the 4:35 mark would prove to be ASU’s last field goal of the game, the Sun Devils were still able to score points by drawing fouls and being effective at the foul line where they made 70 percent of their free throws (7-10) over the last 2:38 of the game.

Hempen, who led ASU with 13 points in Monday’s loss to Stanford, scored 10 of her points in the second half of Friday’s win.

Mann scored 12 of her points during a first half in which there were six ties and six lead changes.

The Sun Devils built a 15-9 lead early on before the Utes came back with six straight to tie the score at 15-15.

A 7-0 run by the Utes later in the half gave them their largest lead of the half, 28-23, with 3:28 remaining. A stalemate of nearly two minutes would ensue before Mann hit three consecutive jumpers in the last 91 seconds of the half to give ASU a 29-28 lead at the break.

The Sun Devils return to action on Sunday (1 p.m. MT) when they travel to Boulder, Colo., to take on Colorado. The game can be seen live on Pac-12 Networks and heard live on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060.

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