Dec. 9, 2007
TEMPE, Ariz. - Kirsten Thompson scored a game-high 16 points to lead four Arizona State players in double figures while the No. 18/19 Sun Devils used a decisive 18-3 run in the latter part of the first half to pull away from UC Davis in a 77-56 nonconference women's basketball win on Sunday at Wells Fargo Arena.
Junior Haylee Donaghe scored 13 points and had four assists - both team-highs - to pace the Aggies who rebounded from a 17-point halftime deficit to shoot 62 percent from the field in the second half. Senior Heather Bates added 10 points and grabbed a team-best four rebounds.
The Aggies, who started the season with a 5-0 record, lost their third straight game - all of them to teams that made last year's NCAA Tournament - and fell to 5-3. Arizona State, which advanced to the regional final in last year's tournament, upped its record to 5-3.
Arizona State guard Briann January scored 14 points - eight of them off free throws - while forward Lauren Lacey and guard Jill Noe each had 10. The Sun Devils also controlled the boards, outrebounding the Aggies 39-20. Lacey had 10 rebounds to complete a double-double.
Aggie coach Sandy Simpson said the experience of playing three tough games in a row - including No. 6/5 Stanford and West Coast Conference champion Gonzaga - will prove beneficial for his team which is in its first official year of Division I competition.
"Arizona State and Stanford are national-level teams and Gonzaga is one of the strongest regional teams right on the cusp of going national," he said. "These three games are as tough as anything we're likely to see the rest of the way... It's a positive experience for us, regardless of the outcome of these games."
UC Davis battled Arizona State tough through much of the first half, taking its only lead at 3-2 off a three-pointer from Bates. The Sun Devils led 10-4 but an 8-2 Aggie surge - sparked by a layup from Donaghe and three points from Jessica Campbell - was capped by a three-pointer from post Paige Mintun that tied the score 12-12 with 13 minutes, 16 seconds left.
But Thompson made her second consecutive shot - she was 7 of 7 for the game - to give Arizona State the lead for good at 14-12. Campbell's bucket with 7:55 left brought UC Davis to within 16-14 but Noe hit a three-pointer less than 30 seconds later which started a 10-0 run that made it 26-14 with 4:09 to go.
Donaghe's trey sliced the lead to 26-17 but Arizona State scored the final eight points of the half for a 17-point halftime lead. The Sun Devils shot 54 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes and held a 26-8 rebounding advantage but were forced into 14 turnovers. Thompson had 10 of her points before the break.
UC Davis trailed by 26 points twice during the first 10 minutes of the second half but got to within 50-31 on Donaghe's driving layup with 11:31 to go. The Aggies trimmed the lead slightly the rest of the way, closing to within just 14 points at 67-53 with under three minutes to play after a three-pointer from Ashley Curry.
"We talked at halftime about getting better in the second half," said Simpson. "The other five halves of the week were behind us. (We said) 'let's get better in this last half of the week ' and I thought we did."
The Aggies converted 13 of 21 shots in the second half, shooting 62 percent, and finished the game at 42 percent. Both teams shot the ball well after the break with the Sun Devils making 57 percent (16 of 28). They finished the game at 56 percent.
UC Davis also had 13 steals, tying a season-high it achieved twice before. Kirsten Commins - who missed much of the first half after a collision under the basket sent her into the locker room for treatment to her forehead - had three swipes to tie Bates for team-high honors.
Sunday's tipoff was delayed approximately 25 minutes due to a power outage.
The Aggies, who have already played four teams that advanced to the NCAA postseason last year, will take a break for final exams before resuming action on Dec. 17 when they face Saint Mary's. The game will be the first half of an evening doubleheader which will also feature the Aggie men hosting Presbyterian. Tipoffs are 5:45 for the women and 8 p.m. for the men.