USA National Team defeats No. 12 ASU

<p> TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Midway through the first half, the sluggish U.S. national team looked as it was playing for the fifth time in nine nights.</p><separator></separator><p>Then voluble star Diana Taurasi picked up a technical foul from the bench. The Americans woke up and rolled to an 82-48 exhibition victory over No. 12 Arizona State on Thursday night, their fifth straight win over a Top 25 team.</p><separator></separator><p>&quot;I was trying to inspire the team, get a spark,&quot; Taurasi said, smiling. &quot;I think we went on a 40-0 run after the technical. It was strictly for the team. I haven&#39;t got one in a while -- and you don&#39;t get fined in college.&quot;</p><separator></separator><p>In reality, the Americans closed the half on a 12-2 run after Taurasi&#39;s technical, then outscored the Sun Devils 48-22 in the second half.</p><separator></separator><p>&quot;There&#39;s not been one game that we&#39;ve played solid from start to finish,&quot; U.S. coach Anne Donovan said. &quot;Once again we were challenged in the first half, and it took the second half before we could really put them away.&quot;</p><separator></separator><p>Swin Cash and Seimone Augustus each scored 14 points and Lisa Leslie added 13 points and nine rebounds for the United States, which shot 56.9 percent from the floor.</p><separator></separator><p>Leslie, who gave birth to a daughter on June 15, said her game is still returning to form. On one second-half breakaway, Leslie went for a layup, ignoring teammates who wanted her to dunk.</p><separator></separator><p>&quot;I know that I could dunk, but I&#39;m like, &#39;You guys have got to be kidding me. There&#39;s no way,&quot;&#39; Leslie said.</p><separator></separator><p>The United States started slowly, falling behind 15-8. But back-to-back baskets by Kara Braxton launched an 11-2 run to put the national team ahead 19-17.</p><separator></separator><p>The Americans turned up the defensive pressure late in the first half, holding the Sun Devils scoreless for the last 4:52 to take a 34-26 halftime lead.</p><separator></separator><p>&quot;They&#39;re showing that they&#39;re the world&#39;s best players,&quot; said ASU coach <a href="… Turner Thorne</a>, who underwent an emergency appendectomy on Sunday night. &quot;A lot of us are hanging with them, and then they&#39;re cranking it up and putting the games away, and that&#39;s what they should be doing. I&#39;m proud of them.&quot;</p><separator></separator><p> The national team forced 30 turnovers while limiting the Sun Devils to 20 field goals.</p><separator></separator><p><a href=""… January</a> scored 14 points for Arizona State, which reached the NCAA regional finals last spring.</p><separator></separator><p>In the first four games of its eight-campus tour, the United States beat No. 4 Maryland, No. 2 Connecticut, No. 1 Tennessee and No. 15 Baylor. The national team will visit 11th-ranked Texas A&amp;M on Sunday.</p><separator></separator><p>It was Taurasi&#39;s first appearance in the Phoenix area since leading the Phoenix Mercury to their first WNBA title in September.</p><separator></separator><p>Taurasi received a big ovation during pregame introductions. But she went to the bench with her third foul with 7:16 to go in the first half. Twenty-three seconds later, referee Lisa Jones assessed Taurasi with a technical foul for arguing.</p><separator></separator><p>Taurasi, who averaged a team-high 19.5 points in the first four games of the tour, finished with five points in 21 minutes.</p><separator></separator><p>&nbsp;</p>