Tempe, Ariz. - Coming off four straight road contests, and being clipped off two starting players due to injury, the Arizona State Sun Devils dropped just their fifth non-conference contest in the last three seasons to a tough Virginia Commonwealth squad in Wells Fargo Arena. With a final score of 57-48, and a tough pill to swallow at that, Head Coach Charli Turner-Thorne will have her team well equipped for any further adversity that might lie ahead.
"We knew things were going to be hard without Sophie [Brunner] and Kelsey [Moos]," Turner-Thorne commented. "VCU is a very good team, and they hit shots today. It's a disappointing loss that I hope will help our players. We were a little bit exposed, but in the long run, it's only going to help us. These kids care and want to win."
For two very defensive minded teams in Arizona State and Virginia Commonwealth, a combined 15 points scored after the first quarter wasn't so much a surprise. After 10 minutes, the Rams headed into period two with a three-point advantage. The Sun Devils, shooting 18 percent (3-17) from the field to start the game, would have to work for every point for the next 30 minutes.
Junior center Quinn Dornstauder, had four of ASU's six points in the first quarter alongside senior point guard, Elisha Davis' two assists and three rebounds. The second quarter was no different- as Dornstauder and Davis continued to give the Sun Devil offense a major spark. For VCU, junior guard Ashley Pegram was the difference maker in the first half as she connected on three of six shots for six of the Rams' 21 points after two periods.
At the half, Virginia Commonwealth was able to steal the lead 21-18. The Sun Devils tied up the game with less than five minutes remaining and took their first lead with three minutes to go, thanks to a free throw from senior, Arnecia Hawkins.
Davis ended with just two points, but chipped in five assists and four rebounds after 20 minutes. Arizona State found much of their success off second chance points; pulling down eight offensive boards to VCU's three in the first half.
Junior Kiera Robinson, was hot out of the gates for the Rams to kick-off the second half, while ASU couldn't seem to buy a basket. Camille Calhoun, a six-foot junior forward, was also a force to be reckoned with down low. Calhoun finished the game with six points. At the first media timeout, the Rams extended their lead by six with a score of 33-27. Their depth proved to be a major weapon with eight Rams on the board- four of them flirting with double digit points.
Hawkins started to heat up in the second half to mitigate any runs VCU was on the verge of making. She connected on a layup, with the chance to make it a three-point play, and a three-pointer to lift her points total to 10 after 30 minutes.
A little bit of Hawkins' magic rubbed off on freshman Sabrina Haines, given her money ball from three-point land that pulled the Sun Devils back within three. Yet again, VCU's Robinson had an answer, doing the same on the opposite end of the floor.
"We were able to make those runs because we were playing together," Hawkins said. "We did what we were supposed to in those stretches; we just couldn't sustain it."
The Rams took a six point lead, 40-34, heading into the final 10 minutes. Robinson notched 11 points, while ASU's Dornstauder, also had an 11 in addition to Hawkins' 10 after three quarters.
The Sun Devils couldn't quite get over the hump as VCU continued to strike in the final minutes. Turner-Thorne's squad was given a handful of clean looks from three-point range to cut their deficit in half, but was forced to foul as the clock dwindled down.
VCU's Pegram finished with nine points, in addition to six apiece from senior Adaeze Alaeze, redshirt junior Chadarryl Clay and junior Isis Thorpe, and 14 total from Robinson. Although the Sun Devils certainly missed Brunner (10.7 ppg) and Moos (4.3 ppg and 5.3 rpg) this afternoon, ASU's Dornstauder led all scorers with 17 points and five boards. Davis also dished out nine assists, well above her season average.
The Sun Devils fall to 3-3 on the season and VCU jumps out to 6-1. Arizona State will be back in action tomorrow against either Columbia or Toledo to round out the ASU Classic Tournament; the Rams will face the winner of those two teams.