March 8, 2012
LOS ANGELES - Seniors Kimberly Brandon (15 points, six rebounds) and Kali Bennett (10 points, six rebounds, five assists and four blocks) combined for 25 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Arizona State women's basketball team to a 68-53 victory over Arizona in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament.
With the win the Sun Devils (20-10) advanced to Friday's semifinals where they will take on second-ranked and Pac-12 regular season champion Stanford.
The duo of Brandon and Bennett helped the Sun Devils dominate inside where they had a 28-16 advantage in points in the paint. Also helping to contribute to that advantage were junior forward Janae Fulcher (eight points, eight rebounds) and freshman forward Jada Blackwell (eight points, six rebounds), who combined for 16 points and 14 rebounds.
The Sun Devils never trailed in the game as they shot 56 percent in the first half on their way to a 36-20 halftime lead. Bennett's eight points and six rebounds led the Sun Devils, who used a 15-3 run to help break the game open.
Arizona (15-17) would get as close as six, 43-37, in the second half after Shanita Arnold connected on a 3-pointer to cap a 15-4 run. However the Sun Devils would come back to score 11 of the game's next 12 points to take a 16-point lead, 54-38, with 7:11 left. Brandon started and ended the ASU scoring run with layups, while Alex Earl knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in-between.
ASU was never threatened the rest of the way as it would lead by as many as 19 points late in the second half.
Thursday's game was ASU's second straight contest against the Wildcats as the Sun Devils closed out the regular season with a 70-63 win over Arizona last Saturday in Tucson. In that game ASU needed a come-from-behind effort as it trailed the Wildcats by as many as 11 points in the second half.
In the last meeting, Wildcat guard Davellyn Whyte scored 10 of her game-high 17 points in the first half to help the Wildcats take a 38-28 halftime lead. On Thursday, Whyte once again scored 17 points to lead all scorers. However after starting out 3-3 shooting, including 2-2 from long range, in the first half (eight points), Whyte was 1-8 in the second half, with all four of her 3-point attempts missing their target.
Also scoring in double figures for the Wildcats were Candice Warthen (11 points) and Reiko Thomas (10 points).
ASU will now turn its attention to Stanford, which has lost only two of 30 contests in the history of the Pac-10/Pac-12 Tournament, which dates back to 2002. One of those losses was to the Sun Devils, who defeated the Cardinal, 70-63, in the championship game of the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament in Eugene, Ore. Friday's game will be the second meeting between Stanford and ASU this season. Last month in Tempe, it was Stanford coming out on top 62-49. The Cardinal used a 14-0 run to break open what was a 40-40 game with 12:15 remaining.
Friday's Pac-12 semifinal game against Stanford (noon PT/1 p.m. MT at the Staples Center) can be seen live on FOX Sports Net and heard on KAZG 1440 AM.