Women's basketball goes on the road to face South Dakota State
Currently riding a three-game winning streak, the Arizona State women's basketball team (6-2) makes its only road trip in the month of December when it travels to Brookings, S.D., to take on the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (Thurs., 7 p.m. CT/6 p.m. MT).
In their most recent contest the Sun Devils came away with a 72-56 win over Colorado State on Saturday. Dymond Simon (14 points), Kimberly Brandon (11 points) and Janae Fulcher (10) all scored in double figures for the Sun Devils, who posted season bests in field goal percentage (.463), 3-point field goals (6) and 3-point field goal percentage (.374). On the defensive end, meanwhile, the Sun Devils forced 23 Colorado State turnovers, which they converted into 23 points.
Brandon, who came into Saturday's game having made 68 percent of her shots in ASU's previous three games, continued to hold the hot hand as she made all but one of her six field goal attempts while adding five rebounds, two assists and one block.
Also continuing to display her trademark accuracy was Fulcher. ASU's field goal percentage leader who came into Saturday's game shooting 60 percent in ASU's previous four games, Fulcher made half of her eight shot attempts against the Rams. Simon, who has now led or tied for the team lead in scoring six times this season, scored six of her 14 points from the line while also tying for the team lead with a pair of 3-pointers.
Much of ASU's success during its three-game winning streak can be attributed to defense. In the last three games ASU has: Allowed 51.3 points per game compared to 58.8 in the first five games; held opponents to a shooting percentage of .359 (.401 in first five games); and has averaged 14.7 steals per game (averaged 9.3 in first five games). On the offensive side, the Sun Devils have averaged 16.0 assists in their last three games compared to 10.8 in the first five contests. In addition, the Sun Devils have also seen improvements in free throw shooting (.737 compared to .652) and more production from the perimeter (5.3 3-pointers per game compared to 2.2).
South Dakota State (4-5) will be playing at home, where they are 3-1 this season, for only the second time in six games. The Jackrabbits, who have made NCAA Tournament appearances each of the last two seasons, have dropped four of their last fives games since beginning the season 3-1. Two of their five losses have come by seven points or less.
Thursday's game can be heard live on The Fan AM 1060. Coverage will begin at 6 p.m. in Arizona. Veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his seventh season as the voice of ASU women's basketball.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• The Sun Devils are currently in the midst of a stretch in which they are playing seven of eight games at home (at South Dakota State being the only road game) after playing only one of their first five games at home.
• This will be only the second all-time meeting between ASU and South Dakota State. The Sun Devils were victorious in the only prior meetings, 73-64 in last season's season opener. Becca Tobin score 18 points to lead the Sun Devils while Tenaya Watson added eight points, seven rebounds, seven assists and two blocks.
• The Sun Devils have held the opposition to under 50 points three times in eight games this season. They have held the opposition to 25 or fewer points in a half eight times.
• ASU is currently third in the Pac-10 in offensive rebounds (18.0 per game), steals (11.3 per game) and free throw percentage (.677).
• Junior F Kimberly Brandon is shooting 72 percent (18-25) in ASU's last 4 contests. She is averaging 10.3 points and 8.7 rebounds during that span. • The Sun Devils currently have two of the top three free throw percentage leaders in the Pac-10 - Tenaya Watson (.864 - first) and Dymond Simon (.821 - third).
• It's still early in the season for these kinds of stats, but for what it's worth, the Sun Devils' RPI is No. 19 and they are No. 31 in strength of schedule according to collegerpi.com.