DALLAS, TX - The Sun Devils and the Mustangs were looking to bounce back from defeat. Both teams lost their previous game while Arizona State was still searching for its first victory of the season.
In their last meeting, SMU gave Arizona State a pounding winning 77-42. The Sun Devils head coach Charli Turner Thorne said, "If we don't guard them, they will score."
Fortunately for Arizona State, SMU did not have the hottest start. In fact, both teams had a sloppy first quarter.
The Mustangs only made 3 of 12 field goals in the first quarter and the Sun Devils could not seem to refrain from getting a traveling violation called on them. Three traveling violations were called on the Sun Devils in the first quarter alone.
Arizona State also struggled with executing each play as they drove to the basket. There were several occasions when the shot clock would dwindle down to the very last seconds before offense would attempt a jump shot or layup.
Mustangs senior guard Gabrielle Wilkins felt the sluggish start coming from her teammates and yelled, "Come on guys, let's pick it up!" Wilkins is holding her team accountable and desires to see a change of direction this season.
"This year I feel like we were just so much more prepared, and like you can see it in the locker room, everybody was like more alive. We're ready for this..."
Arizona State led the entire first half but before going into halftime SMU shortened the deficit to 27-22.
Keep in mind the Sun Devils' roster has changed. The focus is not on the new additions, but on the same players from last season playing a different position.
Senior guard Elisha Davis is the only starter in the same position. Katie Hempen moved from small forward to shooting guard, Kelsey Moos from power forward to small forward, Sophie Brunner from center to power forward and Quinn Dornstauder is now starting at center. As you can imagine, this team is always working to rebuild team fluidity due to the position changes.
"It's new...it's a learning curve. It's an adjustment even getting to their spots on press attack."
"Even the rotation is much different than last year so while we have eight players back, it's very different," said coach Tuner Thorne.
With the score tight at 40-37 at the end of third quarter, the Mustangs switched gears...and so did the Sun Devils.
The level of intensity skyrocketed in the second half. Double-teaming, scrapping for the rebound, two or three players diving for the ball, you name it. Senior forward Alicia Froling took a few hits to the face and a charge here and there.
The change in tempo arrived too late for SMU as Arizona State put the game away at 64-57.
"I was definitely proud at the way we fought, the way we competed. We believed we could win the basketball game...we just didn't hit some of those key shots at the end..." SMU head coach Rhonda Rompola said.
Sun Devils center Quinn Dornstauder led the team with 21 points and 8 rebounds. Davis also added 15 points and Hempen with 13 points.
"I thought our defense was solid. You know, offensively I think we set basketball back about 20 years today...I think we are still carrying our Kentucky loss a little bit."
"Every win is a huge win. We know we have a big target on our backs" said coach Turner Thorne.
The Sun Devils head to paradise for the Thanksgiving weekend as they play against No. 2 South Carolina in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Mustangs received a nice portion of their points from the bench. Guard Morgan Bolton finished with 12 points and 3 rebounds along with Wilkins with 11 points and 5 rebounds. Guard McKenzie Adams led the Mustangs with 16 points and 2 rebounds.
The Mustangs look ahead for the Thanksgiving Classic featuring a tournament between Cal State Fullerton, Kansas, and Northern Illinois starting next Friday, November 27.