Hempen leads No. 10 Arizona State women past Colorado, 59-46
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) There wasn't much riding on the regular-season finale between No. 10 Arizona State and Colorado. That didn't stop the Sun Devils from looking for some momentum going into the postseason.
Katie Hempen hit back-to-back 3-pointers during a key second-half stretch and scored 14 of her team-high 15 points in the second half to help Arizona State beat Colorado 59-46 on Sunday.
''She works as much as on her shooting as anybody on our team and man, she's come up huge for us all season long,'' Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said.
The Sun Devils (26-4, 15-3) were already locked into the second seed in the Pac-12 Conference tournament next week after Oregon State beat California on Saturday to win the regular-season title.
The 26 wins tied for the second-most in school history, behind the 31 wins by the 2006-07 team that reached the regional final before falling to national runner-up Rutgers.
Sophie Brunner added six points, seven rebounds and eight steals for Arizona State. The Sun Devils have won five in a row since losing consecutive games to California and Oregon State.
After not taking a shot in the first half, Hempen was 4 of 5 from beyond the arc in the second half.
''They did a great job of just jamming me, pretty much face-guarding me the first half,'' Hempen said. ''In the Utah game (Friday), I forced a few shots, and I realized that patience is key. In the first half (Sunday), I was like, it's going to come. They are probably going to get tired before I do.''
''Other people start getting going and things do eventually open up for Katie,'' Turner Thorne said. ''But she's gotten a ton of attention. Even those shots (Sunday), they were deep, she had someone running out at her. That's something we will continue to work on with her.''
Lexy Kresl led Colorado (13-16, 6-12) with 12 points, six assists and five rebounds.
''They started hitting their shots and we couldn't answer quickly enough,'' Kresl said.
The Sun Devils went on a key 8-2 run early in the second half to take a 35-27 lead with 12:30 left. Colorado got back within six but then Hempen hit the consecutive long shots to give Arizona State a 10-point advantage. The Buffaloes got no closer than seven the rest of the way.
Promise Amukamara added 13 points for Arizona State.
''I thought we adjusted pretty well after halftime,'' Turner Thorne said. ''I figured we would. I think a lot of that was just, `Got to win for the seniors,' and you got to love that.''
Colorado scoring leader Jamee Swan got into foul trouble, picking up her third foul 90 seconds into the second half and was held to five points and five rebounds in 21 minutes. Jen Reese, who averages 13.3 points, had just four points and four assists.
''Their defense was really solid tonight,'' Colorado coach Linda Lappe said. ''It seemed like anywhere we went, there were one, two, three players surrounding the basketball. It was a very physical game and we didn't handle that very well.''
Colorado has lost five of its last eight games.
Colorado: As the ninth seed, the Buffaloes will play in the No. 8-9 game in the first round of the conference tournament for the second year in a row. They will face Southern California on Thursday in Seattle. ... Colorado is 0-5 against ranked teams this season and has lost its last 17 to ranked teams. ... The third-highest scoring team in the conference, at 70 points per game, was held to 21 first-half points, its lowest first half output of the season.
Arizona State: Hampen hit four 3-pointers in the second half, giving her 67 for the season, breaking the previous school record of 65 set by current WNBA player Briann January in 2008-09. ... The Sun Devils lose only one regular from their roster after this season. On senior day, the team honored starting guard Promise Amukamara and junior Isidora Purkovic, who I s graduating this spring and does not plan to return. She had played a total of 31 minutes this season going into the game. ... Beat Colorado 68-60 in Boulder on Jan. 30.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Colorado coach Lappe: ''It won't be hard to put that one away. We've talked about the Pac-12 tournament for a couple of weeks now. That's what we are preparing for and this game definitely helps us prepare for that. You want to face a good team before you head in to that because you have a lot of time to prepare.''
''Anytime you play ASU, it's a good practice for handling pressure,'' Kresl said. ''We'll be facing the same thing against USC our first round (of the conference tournament). It will prepare us for that first game.''
''Any win builds our momentum going into the next game,'' Promise Amukamara said. ''Going into the Pac-12 tournament, we need to continue to be tough and continue to rebound.''
Colorado: vs. Southern California, Thursday, first round, Pac-12 tournament, at Seattle.
Arizona State: Friday, vs. Oregon-Washington State winner, quarterfinals, Pac-12 tournament, at Seattle.