COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) After a season of not quite reaching expectations and dealing with injures, Arizona State finally gave coach Charli Turner Thorne the kind of game she wanted.
Quinn Dornstauder scored 16 points hitting all six of her baskets from the field and all four of her free throws to lead the No. 8 seed Sun Devils to a 73-61 win over ninth-seeded Michigan State on Friday night.
Dornstauder’s teammates helped out too, shooting 59 percent from the field in the first half to lead by 22 at the break.
“It was just a good day. We all shot very well. And we had a good offensive start,” Dornstauder said.
Arizona State’s also had its stingy defense. Without a 26-point fourth quarter, it would have been the lowest point total of the season for Michigan State (21-12).
Michigan State’s Tori Jankoska, the nation’s 10th leading scorer at 22.5 points a game scored 26 points, 15 of them in the fourth quarter. She only attempted three shots in the first half.
“Everywhere I went there were two people on me,” Jankoska said.
Michigan State led for the first few minutes, but Kiara Russell, who came into the game shooting 20 percent behind the arc, hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 6. The Sun Devils went on a 16-2 run over the next six minutes to take a 22-8 lead. They would lead by double digits the rest of the game.
Friday’s game was the first time this season Thorne has had all her players healthy enough to play. The Sun Devils were 9-9 in the Pac 12 in 2017, a season after sharing just the second regular season title in Thorne’s 20 seasons at Arizona State.
“This is what has been coming with this team all year long – just relaxing and playing to their aptitude,” Thorne said.
Sabrina Haines scored 15 points and Reili Richardson added 13 for the Sun Devils.
Jankoska leaves Michigan State with 2,212 points, the most in school history. She also leaves with Spartans coach Suzy Merchant’s undying gratitude.
“She’s a top 10 draft pick. There’s not a doubt,” Michigan State’s coach said of the 5-foot-8 all-Big Ten guard, who also leads the team in rebounding. “She might not pass the eye test – whatever. But she’s a winner.”
Jankoska worked hard to hold back tears after the game. “Playing at Michigan State has been a dream come true for me,” she said.
GAME PLANNED THWARTED
Merchant copied the plan Pac 12 teams have used all season against the Sun Devils – collapse on the inside and dare Arizona State to shoot jumpers.
“Everybody in their league plays that way. And against us, they hit the shots,” Merchant said.
The Sun Devils came in shooting 30 percent on 3-pointers, but made 44 percent of their shots behind the arc Friday. They were 5-for-9 on 3-pointers in the first half.
Michigan State: The Spartans hadn’t lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament since 2012 – the only other time they exited without a win in Merchant’s 10 years at the school. Michigan State started the game holding teams to making just 29.4 percent of their 3-pointers. The Sun Devils were 44 percent from behind the arc on Friday and only Wyoming and Maryland twice have shot better on 3s.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils shot 49 percent from the field. They averaged 41.7 percent coming into the game. Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne won her 400th game Friday at the school. She also won 40 games at Northern Arizona before coming to the Sun Devils in 1996.
Arizona State plays top-seeded South Carolina in the second round on Sunday, with the winner advancing to the Sweet 16 in Stockton, California. The two teams played at the start of last season in Hawaii, with the Gamecocks winning 60-58 in overtime.
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