LOS ANGELES (AP) Poor shooting, 12 turnovers and mistakes in their zone defense added up to a first-half struggle for the 12th-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils.
The last 20 minutes were a different story.
Katie Hempen scored 16 of her 19 points in the second half, including the go-ahead basket in a 12-0 opening run, and the Sun Devils rallied to beat UCLA 68-56 Friday night.
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Hempen’s layup gave the Sun Devils their first lead since the opening seconds of the game. She had four points in the spurt that put them ahead for good, 38-33.
Hempen sandwiched 3-pointers around four straight points by Quinn Dornstauder, extending Arizona State’s lead to 50-41.
”I just played more relaxed in the second half,” Hempen said. ”I’m grateful for my teammates. They have faith in my shot. It’s easy for me to take those shots because I know my teammates have my back.”
The Sun Devils (23-4, 12-3 Pac-12) have won five of their last seven and can clinch a first-round bye in next month’s league tournament this weekend. The top four teams receive byes. Elisha Davis added 10 points and seven assists.
Nirra Fields led the Bruins (10-16, 6-8) with 17 points. They have lost three in a row and seven of nine.
”If we’re not scoring, we just have to be able to stop them,” Fields said. ”At this time of the season it all comes down to defense.”
The Bruins came unglued to start the second half, when their seven-point lead quickly evaporated. They missed five shots in a row and had two turnovers as the Sun Devils scored every time down the floor.
”We kind of settled down,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said. ”This team has been so consistent all year long, so poised and tough. We just know overall if we work hard every possession and defend, we’ll be fine.”
UCLA was held to 35 percent shooting in the second half, when it got outscored 42-23 and had 13 of its 18 turnovers.
”It was all about their pressure. They asserted their style in the second half,” Bruins coach Cori Close said. ”Because we turned the ball over they were able to get their style going, which is transition.”
Lajahna Drummer, who finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, scored consecutive baskets to draw the Bruins to 57-54 with 3:50 left. Kelli Hayes was called for an offensive foul, stalling their momentum.
”I’m really proud of our team’s fight,” Close said. ”They punched us pretty hard in that second half and we didn’t cave. We kept talking and that’s a major point of growth for us.”
Hempen’s short jumper launched a game-ending 11-2 run that included five points by Promise Amukamara, whose free throw provided ASU with the game’s only double-digit lead in the final 40 seconds.
The Bruins controlled the first half, when they shot 54 percent and their bench outscored the Sun Devils’ reserves 20-6. UCLA raced to a 14-5 lead, its largest of the game, behind Fields’ eight points.
The Sun Devils closed within two points on a 3-pointer by Hempen before the Bruins closed with a 10-5 run to lead 33-26 at the break.
Arizona State: Starting F Kelsey Moos missed her third straight game because of an elbow injury. Thorne said Moos wouldn’t be back this weekend. ”We took one big piece out of our well-oiled machine and they’ve continued to play at a very high level,” Thorne said. … The Sun Devils got outscored 34-28 in the paint and 27-17 in bench points.
UCLA: The Bruins fell to 0-10 against ranked teams this season, the last of senior F Corinne Costa’s career. Playing a tough schedule, she said, is good for the program. ”We’re always trying to better the program for years to come,” she said. … Their last win over a ranked team was 82-76 against No. 10 Oklahoma on Nov. 24, 2013. … They missed all four of their 3-point attempts.