WNIT curse continues as ASU women make early exit

Over the years, the WNIT has not been kind to Arizona State women’s basketball.

And this year was no exception.

The ASU women’s team wrapped up this year’s visit to the postseason tournament with a 50-48 loss to Houston in the consolation bracket final of the Fort Worth Regional.

This is the sixth straight time that the Sun Devils have been unable to make it past the second round of the WNIT.  ASU lost to Rice, 36-34, in the opening round and moved into the consolation bracket where the Devil defense clamped down on a usually high-scoring Missouri offense to post a 50-39 victory.

ASU (12-12) has had difficulty getting into gear early in games all season long.  The Houston game was no different.  The Devils committed 10 turnovers in the first quarter and found themselves in a nine-point hole at the end of the period, a Houston lead that ballooned to 12 points in the second quarter.

But a small surge before halftime, thanks to layups by Jaddan Simmons and Sydnei Caldwell and a free throw by Maggie Besselink, enabled ASU to cut the Houston lead to 33-26 at the half.

Unfortunately, those 10 turnovers were just the beginning of the damage the Houston defense was inflicting.  The Devils committed 23 turnovers in total, which led to 20 points for the Cougars.

But ASU countered with a pressure defense of its own, forcing the Cougars into 20 turnovers that led to 19 points.  There was no way this was going to be a high-scoring affair, especially since the Devils finished 1-of-10 from behind the arc.

ASU had its worst offensive let-down in the final quarter, allowing Houston (17-8) to rally from a seven-point deficit at the 6:52 mark to a 48-48 tie with 1:35 remaining.

“We didn’t get rebounds like we needed to down the stretch and we didn’t execute the whole fourth quarter, really,” admitted ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne after the game.”

The margin of victory came on a Houston lay-up by Laila Blair with 62 ticks left on the game clock to give the Cougars the 50-48 win and send ASU back to Tempe.

There were no big scoring nights for anyone on the ASU team.  Katelyn Levings and Eboni Walker (above photo), who came in off the bench, tied for scoring honors with 10 points apiece.

This was a young ASU team that lacked size (6’4″ Imogen Greenslade the tallest player) and experience.  Turner Thorne started three freshmen and two juniors against Houston.

Next year will be a different story.  Maybe with a little more seasoning, the Sun Devils can get that invite to the Big Dance they missed this year.

And avoid the dreaded WNIT.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)