Sun Devil women's basketball falls to UTEP, 60-54

Despite a career-high 16 points from junior guard Adrianne Thomas and a game-high 12 rebounds from Joy Burke, the Arizona State women's basketball team fell to UTEP 60-54.

One week after allowing Texas Tech to shoot 48 percent in a 61-49 loss, the Sun Devils (0-2) tightened up their defense as UTEP (3-0) shot only 34 percent, including 14 percent (1-7) from 3-point range. In addition the Sun Devils out rebounded the Miners 40-38.

The Sun Devils played much of the game without senior forward Janae Fulcher, who left the game due to injury with just over 11 minutes remaining in the first half. The Sun Devils were also without senior guard Micaela Pickens during critical stretches of the second half as she was forced to leave the game with an injury before later returning.

The absence of Fulcher, who was 2-2 from the floor at the time she left the game, played a role in the Sun Devils not being able to show the same progress on offense as they had on defense as they shot 34 percent for the game.

More than 40 percent of UTEP's points came at the foul line where the Miners connected on 25-of-39 attempts as the defensive-minded Sun Devils were whistled 27 times. Three Sun Devils - Jada Blackwell, Burke and Pickens - would foul out by game's end leaving ASU shorthanded down the stretch.

Sunday's game was tightly contested as the two teams would account for 15 lead changes and 10 ties, the last one coming when Chrishauna Parker scored on a layup to knot the game at 45-45 with 4:35 left. Parker's bucket started a 17-9 run the Miners would use to close out the game. 

Parker, who led UTEP with 15 points, connected on a pair of free throws on UTEP's ensuing possession to put the Miners up 47-45. Following a Sun Devil turnover, UTEP would extend its lead to five following a 3-pointer by Kelli Willingham, the Miners' only 3-pointer of the game.

The Sun Devils would get within three points on four different occasions over the last three minutes of the game, however were unable to get any closer. ASU's best chance to force overtime came with under a minute left when Thomas scored on a layup to get ASU within three and then came up with a steal, giving the Sun Devils a chance to tie or get within one. Isidora Purkovic's 3-pointer missed its mark and the Sun Devils were forced to foul the rest of the way.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair as neither team led by more than four points. Fulcher sparked ASU's offense early on as she scored four of the Sun Devils' first six points.

UTEP struggled to find its shooting touch in the game's opening minutes as it did not make a field goal until nearly six minutes had expired. Although they struggled from the floor, the Miners were still able to generate five points via the foul line.

ASU would take slim a lead into the locker room as Thomas connected with a buzzer beater from beyond half court to give the Sun Devils a 28-27 halftime advantage.

In addition to Thomas' 16 points, also contributing on the offensive end for ASU were Burke, Pickens and Purkovic, who each scored seven points.

The Sun Devils return to action next week when they travel to Las Vegas for the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout. The Sun Devils will face Northern Iowa on Friday (noon PT/1 p.m. MT), N.C. State on Saturday (2:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. MT) and Florida on Sunday (noon PT/1 p.m. MT).