By Jake Anderson, SDA Media Relations
TEMPE, Ariz. – Katie Hempen scored 10 of her 13 points in the second half to help lead No. 20 Arizona State to a 55-51 win over Colorado on Friday night.
The Sun Devils (21-6, 10-5 Pac-12), who snapped a three-game losing skid, outscored the Buffaloes (14-12, 4-11) 6-2 in the final two minutes to break a 49-49 tie and move to 13-1 at home.
Deja Mann added nine points while Kelsey Moos (seven points, six rebounds), Sophie Brunner (six points, seven rebounds) and Elisha Davis (three points, six rebounds) combined for 19 of ASU’s 31 rebounds.
“This is who we are. We don’t blow teams out, we just find a way to win,” said ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne. “I think it was nice to get over the hump today. We are a young team, and losing three games in a row is tough. And Colorado is a team with a winning record fighting to go to the postseason. Obviously they came in here and fought and battled and did a great job. I thought we had a good defensive effort and I thought our defense at the end of the game was very good.
“The two things we said we had to do in order to win were to limit their free throws and limit their second shots. And we said we would score enough points to win if we did that. And that’s what happened.”
Leading by three at the half, the Sun Devils took their largest lead of the game after Mann’s jumper put ASU up 34-28 with 12:51 remaining.
A little more than two minutes later the Buffaloes would not only erase the deficit, but also take a two-point lead following an 8-0 run. A jumper by Lexy Kresl, who scored 11 points, started the Colorado scoring flurry.
The Sun Devils would come back later in the half to take a four-point lead, but Colorado would not go away as it rebounded with a 5-0 run to once again take a one-point lead with 6:56 remaining.
The two teams would go back and forth over the next several minutes. Jen Reese, who scored 12 of her game-high 18 points in the second half, connected on a jumper to give Colorado a 47-46 edge with 3:30 left before Davis came back with a triple on the opposite end to give ASU a 49-47 lead.
Another jumper by Reece tied the score at 49-49. Each team failed to score on its next possession setting the stage for Moos, whose layup gave the Sun Devils a 51-49 lead.
ASU’s defense would then step up and force a turnover, which caused the Buffaloes to start fouling with 33 seconds left. Hempen, who was 3-4 from beyond the arc, made both free throws to complete a perfect 4-of-4 night from the free throw line and give ASU a two-possession lead.
Down by four, the Buffaloes got a quick bucket to get within two, 53-51 with 23 seconds left. A quick foul and a miss on the front end of a one-and-one on the opposite end left the Buffaloes with an opportunity to either try and force overtime or win the game with a 3-pointer. Neither scenario would occur, as Arielle Roberson could not get her layup to fall.
Mann hit a pair of free throws with five seconds left to clinch the win.
Both teams struggled early on as the score was knotted at 6-6 after more than eight minutes elapsed. Colorado missed their first 10 field goal attempts, but picked up its scoring pace as the Buffaloes went on to make their next seven shots. The Devils couldn’t take advantage of Colorado’s early woes though, as ASU only shot 35 percent from the field in the first half, including 22.2 percent (2-9) from behind the arc. The Sun Devils also couldn’t take advantage of getting to the free throw line early, as they shot 46.2 percent (6-13) from the charity stripe.
ASU wore pink uniforms in honor of its annual ‘Play 4Kay’ game – an initiative that gives a nation of coaches the opportunity to raise breast cancer awareness and funds for research on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond.
The Sun Devils host their final game of the 2013-14 season on Sunday (1 p.m. MT) when Utah visits Wells Fargo Arena. It will be the final game at home for Sun Devil seniors Joy Burke, Deja Mann and Adrianne Thomas. All three players will be honored in a ceremony following Sunday’s game.
Sunday’s game vs. Utah can be seen on Pac-12 Networks (Arizona and Mountain) and can be heard on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060.