Dec. 28, 2011
TEMPE - Alex Earl hit a late three-pointer and Micaela Pickens blocked a three-point attempt in the waning moments as the Arizona State University women's basketball team held on to defeat the UTEP Miners on Wednesday in Wells Fargo Arena, 47-45.
Kimberly Brandon scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds - both team highs - for her sixth career double-double as the Sun Devils (9-2, 0-0 Pac-12) were able to overcome a poor shooting night and wrap up the non-conference schedule with a victory.
Leading 44-43 with just over a minute left, Earl knocked down just her second shot of the game from the corner to put ASU up 47-43 with 1:20 left in regulation. Earl was just 1-of-9 from the floor at the time and only 1-of-8 from three-point land.
The Miners were able to bring the game within two points on a Kristine Vitola layup with 20 seconds left. Kali Bennett missed the ensuing free throw to give UTEP (10-2, 0-0 Conference USA) a chance to tie or win the game, but Pickens' block of Kelli Willinghman's three-point attempt with time running out sealed the game for the Sun Devils.
ASU held the Miners to just 32.7 percent (17-of-52) shooting from the floor on the evening, forcing 19 turnovers in the process in a game where defense was key. ASU shot just 32.1 percent on its own end, but knocked shots down when it mattered most at the end of the game.
It was the lowest-scoring game on the season for either team as ASU had entered the game averaging 65.6 points per game while the Miners were averaging 69.6 points in the same category.
The first half of the game was marred by turnovers and poor shooting by both teams with ASU managing to shoot just 9-of-28 for the field while coughing up 10 turnovers. The Sun Devils did, however, force 12 Miner turnovers in the frame and managed to score eight points off of those.
After falling behind in the early moments of the game, Brandon scored seven of the next nine ASU points to help the Sun Devils to a 12-6 advantage with 13:45 left in the half.
The team would score just five points over the next 10 minutes though, allowing the Miners to claw their way back into things and take the lead late in the frame.
The Sun Devils then used a 5-0 scoring burst over the final seconds of the half to jump ahead 24-20 but a last-second three by UTEP's Ryah Lacy - the only three by either team in the half - brought the Miners within one as ASU entered the half with a 24-23 advantage.
Arizona State will be back in action at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday as it opens up the 2012 Pac-12 conference slate against in-state rival Arizona. Also at stake will be half a point towards the State Farm Territorial Cup series. The game is set to tip at noon MST and will be televised live by Fox Sports Net.
- Senior Kali Bennett added four blocks on the night to move up to second on ASU's all-time blocks list with 101. She trails only Kym Hampton, who tallied 178 points in her career from 1981-84
- Brandon added six steals to her impressive stat line, which was a single-game high for the season for the Sun Devils.
- In holding UTEP to just a .327 shooting percentage, ASU has now held nine of its first 10 opponents below that opponents average shooting percentage entering the match. ASU has held all 10 opponents below their scoring average. (*Note: Arizona State's season opening victory against UC Riverside does not count towards this statistic as neither team had any averages entering the competition)