TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Ohio rolled into its first NCAA Tournament in 20 years behind a shower of 3-pointers.
The Bobcats’ season washed away when those 3-pointers wouldn’t fall against Arizona State’s relentless pressure.
Ohio struggled against No. 3 Arizona State’s aggressive defense, making 4 of 16 shots from 3-point range in a 74-55 loss to the Sun Devils in the Greensboro Region of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.
“They took us out of everything we wanted to do,” Ohio guard Kat Yell said.
Arizona State (28-5) made the most of its first home NCAA Tournament game in a decade.
The Sun Devils got here behind their defense and were at their hounding best against the Bobcats, forcing 18 turnovers while holding one of the nation’s most prolific 3-point shooting teams in check.
Arizona State had its way with the Bobcats offensively, too, shooting 55 percent while hitting 8 of 16 from 3-point range.
Kate Hempen had 23 points and five 3-pointers, and Sophie Brunner added 14 points to help the Sun Devils move on to face 11th-seed Arkansas-Little Rock in the Round of 32 on Monday.
“When our defense turning people over and we’re getting buckets in transition, that’s absolutely when we’re at our best,” Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne. “We worked hard and I think our defense looked fantastic at times against a team that takes care of the ball.”
Ohio (27-5) returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years behind its 3-point shooting, making 294 on the season — 200 more than Arizona State.
The Bobcats never got untracked against the Sun Devils, unable to get into much of a flow against Arizona State’ pressure, shooting 37 percent.
Quiera Lampkins led Ohio with 17 points and Kiyanna Black added 12.
“They do a lot of things well,” Ohio coach Bob Boldon said. “They shoot well, guard well, they have a good post presence, they’re obviously well-coached. They’re a good team.”
The Sun Devils earned their first home NCAA Tournament win since 2005 behind a hounding defense, up-tempo pace and a 10-deep bench.
Arizona State got off to a bit of a nervous start against Ohio before settling down. Once the Sun Devils did, their defense gave the Bobcats fits.
Ohio struggled with Arizona State’s full-court pressure, setting up a couple of easy baskets in transition. The Bobcats had just as much trouble with the Sun Devils’ aggressive half-court defense, leading to difficult shots and more turnovers.
Arizona State took advantage at the other end, making 5 of its first 9 shots and going on a 13-0 run to build a 18-8 lead.
Ohio missed its first seven 3-pointers and had 12 turnovers by halftime, leading to 12 points for Arizona State. The Bobcats made a run to cut the lead to eight, but the Sun Devils pushed back and were up 41-25 at halftime.
Ohio shot 9 of 24 from the floor in the first half.
Led by Hempen, Arizona State hit 12 of 20 shots, including 5 of 9 from 3-point range. Hempen had 14 points by halftime, hitting 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
Ohio had a quick 7-0 run in the second half to pull within 46-34, but got no closer.
Hempen hit a 3-pointer from well beyond NBA range and the Sun Devils kept up their relentless pressure, cruising into the NCAA Tournament’s second round for the second straight year.
Ohio: The Bobcats are 0-3 in the NCAA Tournament. … Black, Ohio’s leading scorer, was 3 for 9 from the floor.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils have won at least one NCAA Tournament game in eight of their past nine appearances. … Arizona State had 13 steals.
Ohio’s season is over.
Arizona State moves on to face Arkansas-Little Rock in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.
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