Sun Devils open with win over Middle Tenn.
TEMPE, Ariz. — Sophie Brunner scored a career-high 20 points to go along with a game-high 12 rebounds as the Arizona State women’s basketball team opened its season with an 81-67 victory over Middle Tennessee.
Katie Hempen and Elisha Davis added 14 points each for the Sun Devils (1-0), who never trailed in the game.
"Middle Tennessee is a very good team and I thought we really outworked them and had a great game," Sun Devils coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "I thought this was a great team win and it was really fun to get everybody in."
The Sun Devils scored a little more than a third of their points from the free throw line where they were 28-37 for the game (75.7 percent). Brunner was the biggest beneficiary of the 26 fouls Middle Tennessee (0-1) committed as she knocked down 12 of her 14 free throw attempts in the game. Brunner, who had four double-doubles last season, came within one rebound of tying her career high.
"Sophie Brunner played really well," Turner Thorne said. "And she does that every day. Every day in practice that’s what she does. She’ll shoot 80 percent, get a ton of rebounds, and play great defense. She’s just good."
Hempen (12 points) and Brunner (10 points) combined for 22 of ASU’s 39 points over the first 20 minutes to help the Sun Devils build a 39-27 halftime lead. Half of Hempen’s points came in the final two minutes of the first half as she sunk a trio of jumpers, the last of which came with four seconds left. Hempen, who was second on the team in 3-pointers last season (44), was 5-8 from the floor in the first half, including 2-3 from long range.
"Honestly, I wasn’t even thinking about (scoring)," Hempen said. "I’ve put in a lot of work with my teammates and they work extremely hard just like me. They have confidence in my shot and I think our team has just stepped it up this year."
Hempen’s 3-pointer gave ASU its first double-digit lead of the game, 22-11 with 9:03 left in the first half.
The Blue Raiders would get within nine later in the half before the Sun Devils countered with a 7-0 run to take command of the game. Davis (five points) and Brunner (two points) accounted for all the points on the scoring run.
Middle Tennessee got back within single digits after a 3-pointer by China Dow cut ASU’s lead to 42-33 one minute into the second half. The two teams would go back and forth the next few minutes before another Sun Devil scoring burst put the game out of reach. Arnecia Hawkins (two points), Kelsey Moos (two points), Davis (five points) and Brunner (two points) all contributed to an 11-0 scoring run that gave the Sun Devils a 58-37 advantage with 13:55 left.
The Blue Raiders, who were led by Olivia Jones’ 19 points, would get no closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
Davis was one of the spark plugs in ASU’s offensive performance on Friday night. In addition to her 14 points, the junior guard also led ASU with six assists while turning the ball over only one time. In fact, the entire Sun Devil team took great care of the basketball as it had merely 10 turnovers on the night while forcing Middle Tennessee into 17.