Sun Devil women's basketball hosts ASU Classic
Following a pair of close games at last weekend's San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico, the Arizona State women's basketball team returns home this weekend to host the annual ASU Classic.
The action begins on Friday when ASU takes on Eastern Washington at 10:30 a.m. Then, 25 minutes after the conclusion of the ASU-Eastern Washington game, Arkansas State will face Illinois State.
On Saturday, Eastern Washington will face Arkansas State/Illinois State at 12 noon and ASU will face Arkansas State/Illinois State 25 minutes after the conclusion of the first game (Note: While times for ASU's and Eastern Washington's games are set regardless of Friday's outcomes, Saturday's games will still feature a `consolation game' and a `championship game' in which the two winners from Friday's games will meet).
The Sun Devils earned a split in last week's San Juan Shootout, defeating Illinois 51-50 before falling to No. 13 Rutgers 59-52..
Against Illinois it was Janae Fulcher coming though with the late-game heroics as she scored all eight of her points in the final 4:42, including the game-winning basket with 17 seconds remaining to help the Sun Devils rally for the win.
Fulcher's basket capped a 12-3 run by the Sun Devils, who faced their largest deficit of the game after Illinois went up 47-39 with 6:59 left in the game.
One day later against Rutgers it was junior guard Deja Mann who came through with career bests in points (11) and rebounds (7) for the Sun Devils, who were in the game right until the very end.
After trailing by as many as 14 in the first half, the Sun Devils gradually chipped away at the Rutgers lead throughout the game. Twice in the second half the Sun Devils would get within a single point, however were never able to pull even or take the lead.
Several players played key roles in helping to keep ASU within striking distance in the second half. Kali Bennett, who was named to the San Juan Shootout All-Tournament Team, scored four points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had a career-high four steals. In addition, Fulcher and Micaela Pickens each scored eight points for the Sun Devils.
Mann (9.5 ppg) led the Sun Devils in scoring in the two games while Kimberly Brandon (8.5 rpg) paced ASU in rebounding. Bennett came through with a strong all-around performance as she averaged 6.5 ppg., 7.5 rpg., 3.0 spg and 2.5 bpg.
Friday's game vs. Eastern Washington can be heard live on thesundevils.com (premium subscription required). Pre-game coverage will begin at 10 a.m.
Saturday's game can be heard live on The Fan AM 1060 and on thesundevils.com.
Vince Marotta will be on hand to call both of this weekend's games.
Fox Sports Arizona will also be carrying live webcasts of both of ASU’s games at www.foxsportsarizona.com.
NOTES FROM THE SAN JUAN SHOOTOUT
• The Sun Devils' defense played a major role in its come-from-behind win over Illinois. ASU went on a 12-3 run after Illinois took its largest lead of the game, 47-39, with 6:59 left. During its game-closing run the Sun Devils held Illinois to 11 percent shooting (1-9 FGs) while also coming through with three steals.
• Junior guard Deja Mann recorded career highs in both points (11) and rebounds (7) vs. Rutgers while Kali Bennett had a career-high four steals vs. Rutgers.
• With their one-point win against Illinois the Sun Devils are now 4-0 in games decided by three points or less the last two seasons.
• With three blocks vs. Illinois, Kali Bennett has blocked three more or more shots in three of ASU's five games this season. With her two blocks against Rutgers, Bennett moved into a tie for fourth place with former Sun Devil Sybil Dosty on ASU's all-time list for most career blocks (88).
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• The Sun Devils were victorious in their only prior meeting with Eastern Washington (114-73, Dec. 10, 1982). As for Saturday's potential opponents, ASU has won three of its four lifetime meetings vs. Illinois State and has never faced Arkansas State.
• At the start of the week the Sun Devils were ranked No. 4 in the nation in blocks per game (7.2 bpg). ASU leads the Pac-12 in blocks and is ranked in the top-three of the conference in field goal percent defense (2nd - .316), scoring defense (3rd - 52.2 ppg) and steals (3rd - 11.4 spg). Individually speaking, Micaela Pickens is second in the Pac-12 in steals (3.0 spg), tied for ninth in blocks (1.4 bpg) and tied for 18th in rebounding (6.0 rpg), Kali Bennett is third in blocks (2.8 bpg), Alex Earl is sixth in 3-point FG percentage (.467), tied for 10th in 3-point FGs (1.4 per game) and 14th in steals (1.8 spg), Deja Mann is 11th in free throw percentage (.813) and tied for 11th in assist-turnover ratio and Kimberly Brandon is 30th in scoring (9.8 ppg) and 16th in rebounding (6.6 rpg).
• The Sun Devils are 19-1 (.950) in home non-conference games since the 2008-09 season.