SEATTLE (AP) — After Arizona State failed to win a game in the last two Pac-12 Conference tournaments, the ninth-ranked Sun Devils are thrilled to be sticking around for the weekend and another chance to improve their case for a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Sophie Brunner scored eight of her 14 points in the first 5 minutes of the second half, Quinn Dornsauder added 12 points off the bench and Arizona State pulled away in the second half to beat Washington State 67-48 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament Friday.
Promise Amukamara scored 11 points for the Sun Devils, helping make up for leading scorer Katie Hempen being held to four points. Arizona State, the No. 2 seed, overcame a sluggish first half for its sixth straight victory.
“It’s just nice to stay here more than a day. We haven’t built much history at this tournament in Seattle yet, so very proud of our team,” Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “We’ve been a little slow starting lately offensively, and then we’ve been able to get it going in the second half this last week or so.”
The Sun Devils (27-4) led only 19-16 at halftime but opened the second half on a 25-11 run. Sixteen of the 25 points during the run were scored inside the point with Brunner and Kelsey Moos doing most of the damage as Arizona State couldn’t be slowed on the interior. Arizona State on the interior to start the second half.
Moos and Brunner scored 16 of the 25 points during the Sun Devils’ run, capped by Elisha Davis’ 3-pointer with 11:47 left for a 17-point lead. The Cougars got no closer than 11.
Brunner played only 4 minutes of the first half after picking up two early fouls.
“I wasn’t aggressive and I was just going soft. That was on me, too,” Brunner said of the first half. “The guards, we weren’t helping them, and we just weren’t playing successful in the first half. In the second half we worked well together and ran the floor and got easy looks.”
Tia Presley led Washington State (14-17) with 16 points and Lia Galdeira added 12, but the Cougars were just 1 of 14 on 3-point attempts.
The Cougars went nearly 8 minutes to start the game without scoring and played stretches of both halves without Presley and Galdeira after each suffered left leg injuries. Galdeira injured her left knee in the opening minutes of the game and Presley twisted her left early in the second half.
“We kind of ran out of gas and they really took it to us inside in particular,” Washington State coach June Daugherty said. “Their front line is very, very good and it’s tough to overcome that.”
PLAYING FROM BEHIND
Washington State needed a deep tournament run to keep its NCAA hopes alive and could not have asked for a worse start. The Cougars missed their first nine shots, saw Galdeira limp off the floor with a left knee injury and went nearly eight minutes before scoring to start the game. Yet the Cougars trailed just 19-16 at halftime by holding Arizona State to 28 percent shooting and forcing 11 first-half turnovers by the Sun Devils.
Washington State: Washington State shot 72.5 percent at the free throw line for the season, but was 3 of 13 at the line in the first half. Galdeira was 2 of 8 despite shooting 76 percent for the season. The Cougars were 8 of 11 in the second half. … The 16 points in the first half were the fewest for any half this season for the Cougars.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils 19 first-half points were the third lowest of the season and all three have come in the past eight games. Arizona State was held to 16 first-half points in a loss to California and 18 in a win over Utah.
Washington State: The Cougars will wait to learn their postseason fate.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils will play either UCLA or No. 19 Stanford in the semifinals on Saturday.
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