TEMPE, Ariz. - No. 2 Arizona State (26-6) took full advantage of playing on their home floor and stuck it to No. 15 New Mexico State (26-5) in the first round of NCAA women's basketball tournament action.
Seniors Elisha Davis and Katie Hempen made no doubt ASU would come away with a victory as the guard tandem combined for 33 points. With a final score of 74-52, Head Coach Charli Turner Thorne and the Sun Devils advance to the Round of 32 to be played on Sunday, March 20.
“Hats off to New Mexico State, we knew they weren’t going to go away,” Turner Thorne said. “To get pretty much our entire team in an NCAA tournament game was really fun. We threw the first punch and that really set the tone.”
At the end of the first quarter, Arizona State led New Mexico State 22-13 and never turned back. Hempen led all scorers with eight points after ten minutes of play, and as a team, the Sun Devils shot a blistering 62.5 percent from the field on 10-16 shooting. For the Aggies, it was all Sasha Weber, who accounted for six of NMSU's 13 first quarter points.
Arizona State was far from cooled off entering the second quarter as they increased their lead 30-18 forcing a New Mexico State timeout with 6:48 remaining in the first half.
Hempen surely had the hot hand for ASU as she increased her points total to 17 including 5-5 from three-point land to give the Sun Devils a convincing 20-point cushion after 15 minutes of action. Capped off by an Elisha Davis finish at the rim, Arizona State led 45-24 at the half.
In 20 minutes, the Sun Devils forced 15 New Mexico State turnovers and held the Aggies to 29.7 percent from the field on 8-27 shooting. Contrarily, the Sun Devils didn't seem to miss, finishing the first half 19-31 from the field (61.3 percent).
From three-point land alone, ASU finished 6-8, Hempen draining five of the six. Davis chipped in seven points and assisted on a team-high five buckets. For the Aggies, Weber put up 11 points nearly matching her season average of 12.3.
New Mexico State never backed down despite its 21-point halftime deficit. The Aggies opened up the third quarter countering much of what ASU threw at them defensively, forcing several turnovers along the way, to rattle off a quick six points.
Davis continued to strike for Arizona State, but a total of 10 Sun Devils had, at least, two points with 4:44 to go in the third. For a team who holds opponents to 54.4 points per game, NMSU was just 10 points shy of breaking that number as they trailed 65-44 heading into the final period.
Not surprisingly, Hempen put ASU on the board to kick off the fourth quarter and remained a perfect 6-6 from downtown. Aside from the point differential, New Mexico State hung tough in the rebounding column as the Sun Devils didn't pull away in that category until the fourth period.
At the final media timeout, the Aggies trailed 70-49, but Weber stayed hot as she finished the evening with 18 points. Moriah Mack also pitched in 11 points and four rebounds for NMSU. In addition, to Hempen's 20 points and Davis' 13, Sophie Brunner and Quinn Dornstauder added eight points apiece to ASU's total.