No. 23 ASU women hold off USC in overtime

TEMPE, Ariz. –– Deja Mann scored a season-high 21 points and Adrianne Thomas added 18 as the No. 23 Arizona State women’s basketball team held off USC 94-86 in overtime on Friday.

Mann (6 for 8 from the field, 6 for 7 from the line) and Thomas (5 for 8, 8 for 9) combined to make 68 percent of their field goals and 88 percent of their free throws as ASU (13-2, 2-1 Pac-12) shot 53 percent for the game. Also scoring in double figures for the Sun Devils, who improved to 7-0 at home, were Katie Hempen (season-high 13 points and career-high five steals) and Promise Amukamara (11 points).

A week after missing 15 free throws in an 85-78 loss at Washington State, ASU came through with a standout effort from the stripe, making 82 percent of its attempts (28 for 34) on Friday.

USC (10-6, 3-1 Pac-12), which came into the contest tied for first place in the Pac-12 after winning its first three league games, was led by Alexyz Vaioletama, who registered a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds. The junior forward scored 17 points in the final 25 minutes of the game, including a 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left that forced overtime.

After the Trojans scored the first bucket of the extra session, the Sun Devils went on a quick 5-0 run to take an 84-81 lead with 2:31 remaining.

Following a free throw by Hempen, Arizona State clung to an 87-85 lead with one minute remaining before a steal and two free throws by Thomas put the Sun Devils ahead 89-85 with 46.4 seconds left.

Courtney Jaco, who scored 14 points, then missed a heavily contested 3-pointer on the next USC possession, and Amukamara followed with a pair of free throws to give ASU a 91-85 lead with 22.0 seconds remaining.

With the overtime win, the Sun Devils improved to 5-0 this season in games decided by fewer than five points or in overtime.

"I hope that, as the season goes on, we get better at just putting people away," said ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne. "I do feel like although USC made some tough shots, some of it was total let-ups where we can maybe get a little better."

Overtime seemed like an unlikely scenario, as it appeared the Sun Devils were on their way to winning in regulation after a layup by Kelsey Moos put ASU up 65-56 lead with 5:22 remaining.

Cassie Harberts, who was silent for much of the game, helped lead USC’s comeback, as she scored 13 of her 17 points in the final six-plus minutes of regulation.

A Harberts free throw got USC within two at 71-69 with 59.6 seconds remaining, but two free throws by Mann helped ASU regain a four-point advantage with 56 seconds remaining. USC countered with a quick layup by Vaioletama, but the Sun Devils got two free throws from Hempen to go up 75-71 with 38 ticks left.

On the ensuing possession, Jaco was able to hit a desperation 3-pointer to bring the Trojans to within one.

Thomas calmly hit two more free throws to make it a three-point game with 16 seconds left, but Vaioletama was able to extend the game with her triple in the final seconds.

Despite turning the ball over 10 times in the first half, ASU was able to hold the lead for most of the first 20 minutes due to its relentless work on the offensive glass. The Sun Devils grabbed eight offensive rebounds, which led to nine second-chance points and a 38-34 halftime lead.

The Trojans opened the second half with an 11-5 run and took a 44-43 lead with just under 15 minutes remaining before a layup by Thomas sparked a 11-2 Arizona State run that gave the Sun Devils a 54-46 lead with 9:29 remaining.

After only getting to the free-throw line three times in the first half, Arizona State was much more aggressive in attacking the Trojan defense in the second half. The Sun Devils were able to get into the bonus very early and made the most of their opportunities, scoring more than half of their second-half points (20) on free throws.

As has been the case throughout the season, the Sun Devils received a big lift from their bench, which outscored USC’s reserves 32-23. Hempen (13), Elisha Davis (nine) and Joy Burke (eight) combined for 30 of those points.

Davis, who had a career-high seven assists with only one turnover in ASU’s win at Washington last Sunday, was equally impressive with her handling of the ball on Friday, as she had six assists and just one turnover.