By Lindsay Gaesser, SDA Media Relations
TEMPE, Ariz. – ASU Classic Tournament MVP Sophie Brunner scored 12 of her career-high 17 points in the second half and overtime to lead the Arizona State women’s basketball team to a nail-biting 74-67 win over Long Beach State on Sunday to earn the ASU Classic title.
Brunner, who also had a career-high 12 rebounds, and fellow freshman forward Kelsey Moos (13 points, six rebounds) contributed on both ends of the court as the duo combined for 30 points and 18 rebounds. Brunner, who was 6-9 from the floor, nabbed her second double-double in ASU’s last four games. After missing Saturday’s game due to symptoms from a concussion in ASU’s prior outing against Arkansas State, Moos did not miss a beat as she hit five of her nine shot attempts and was 3-4 from the foul line.
“I was really excited that we got Kelsey back today because I knew perimeter defense-wise and rebound-wise, she could make a huge difference in this game,” said ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne, who recorded the 350th win of her career on Sunday. “Obviously she’s been playing great for us, and Sophie just continues to make great strides.”
“I felt great,” said Moos of being back on the court. “I watched the team in practice work hard all week, so it was great to finally play with them again.”
After a slow start for the Sun Devils, Arnecia Hawkins drained a three giving ASU its first lead after more than 11 minutes had elapsed. ASU held on for the remainder of the half, heading to the locker room with 32-29 lead over the 49ers (5-3).
ASU struggled to find its rhythm in the first half, connecting on only 40 percent of its field goals and shooting 10 percent from beyond the arc. Moos led the Sun Devils in scoring with nine points. Brunner dominated the boards with seven rebounds.
“We were not very good (in the first half),” said Turner Thorne. “We missed free throws, we missed layups, and we missed our threes. We’ve been a team that’s been pretty hot and made a high percentage of shots. You know you’re going to have some of these days. But our rebounding was huge. Sophie was a beast (on the boards), and very deserving of the MVP.”
The second half opened with a series of lead changes, as both teams duked it out in the paint. It appeared the Sun Devils were starting to pull away after a 6-0 run gave them a 53-46 lead with 6:20 remaining. The 49ers would stage a rally however as they reeled off 11 of the game’s next 13 points to take a 57-55 lead with 1:22 remaining.
Brunner would account for ASU’s next four points, the last two of which came on a pair of free throws to give ASU a 59-57 lead with 10 seconds left.
With one second remaining, Long Beach State’s Ella Clark put up a buzzer-beating jumper to tie the game and send it into overtime.
“Long Beach State did a great job,” said Turner Thorne. “They played to their strengths and they really played a great game. They’re going to have a great year in the Big West. They really stepped up and were excited.”
It was a different story in overtime, however.
The Sun Devils came out like gangbusters, scoring seven points within the first two minutes of overtime—Brunner with two layups and Hempen with a trey. The 49ers were unable to keep up with the recharged Sun Devils, and ASU held on for the win.
“We kind of just talked about picking it up and staying with things in overtime, and really picking it up on the defensive side of things and getting stops and having good looks on offense and just taking care of the ball,” said Brunner of stepping it up in overtime.
Senior guard Deja Mann added, “We felt like in regulation we were beating ourselves a lot with the turnovers and stuff like that. I guess we just found another level of focus during overtime.”
Mann, who averaged 12.0 points for the weekend, was named to the All-Tournament Team along with Moos.
Two players – Alex Sanchez (24 points) and Raven Benton (16 points) – scored in double-figures for the 49ers, who rallied from 23 points down to top Harvard in Saturday’s preliminary game. Benton, who averaged 18.5 points in the two games, was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Also named to the All-Tournament Team were Temi Fagbenele from Harvard and Ericka Norman from Sacred Heart.
Next up, the Sun Devils head to California to play Cal State Fullerton on Saturday at 6 p.m. MT/5 p.m. PT.