By Alyssa Muir
TEMPE, Ariz. — It was just the opening possession, but when Jade Loville caught a kick-out pass from Mael Gilles and promptly drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key, it signaled more to come from Arizona State’s senior guard in the Sun Devils’ 81-77 upset win over the No. 6 Arizona Wildcats.
“I’m proud of her,” Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “I thought she was patient in terms of waiting until she got some really clean looks. And, honestly, once she gets going, it doesn’t really matter if they’re clean or not. She’s one of those incredible scorers who can make tough shots and get you buckets.”
This marks the second season in a row the Sun Devils have beaten a top 10 Wildcat team in Tempe. Arizona State now leads the rivalry 63-36.
Loville finished with 27 points on 9-of-19 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 from the line. She scored 13 in the second half, many of which came on tough midrange shots with the shot clock winding down and defenders draped all over her. She also chipped in eight rebounds and tied for a team-high in minutes played with 32.
“Obviously when Jade’s going, we’re that much better,” Turner Thorne said.
Loville did most of her damage in the first quarter, finishing the period with 12 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from the field and 2-of-2 from the foul line.
“My coaches just put me in the right places,” Loville said. “They told me to just let the game come to me. …Just staying poised. I’m just glad I could hit the shots for my team.”
The second quarter was all about the other Sun Devils. Arizona State led by as many as 13 before carrying a 42-34 lead at the half, despite Loville only adding two points in the period.
The Sun Devils, aided by eight points from senior guard Taya Hanson and six from Loville, extended their lead to 61-52 entering the final period. The Wildcats stormed back, however, and grabbed a three-point lead with approximately four minutes left. A few possessions later, a four-point play, thanks to an over-the-back and technical foul both called on the same play, helped Arizona State retake the lead.
With 21.9 seconds remaining, the Wildcats had possession down 78-77 when Shaina Pellington, who finished with 30 points, charged down the lane as she had done all quarter long. This time, however, Sun Devils forward Jayde Van Hyfte stepped up and took a charge. Gilles and Loville then combined for three free throws to seal the upset.
The high scoring night was nothing new for Loville, a transfer from Boise State in her first year as a Sun Devil. She averages a team high 16.5 points per game and has broken the 30-point threshold twice this season already.
“She’s a bucket,” Hanson said.
It was Loville’s first taste of the in-state rivalry, however. She’ll have a second helping of it in just two days when the Sun Devils travel to Tucson for a rematch.
Alyssa Muir is a sports reporter at Medill from Tampa, Florida. You can follow Alyssa on Twitter at @alyssa_muir21.