By Rhiannon Potkey LCH Correspondent LAS VEGAS – Danielle Orsillo emerged from the Arizona State locker room with three bags of ice adorning her body. The senior guard winced as she pulled her shooting shirt over her left shoulder. Playing Texas A&M left Orsillo and her fellow Sun Devils bruised, battered and eventually beaten as the 13th-ranked Aggies defeated No. 14 Arizona State 72-62 at the Holiday Hoops Classic on Saturday night at South Point Arena. In a defensive grudge match featuring bodies flying all over the floor, Texas A&M (8-1) pulled away in the final four minutes to gain a measure of revenge for last year’s 84-69 loss to ASU in the NCAA tournament regional semifinal.
“This is more what we thought it would be last year. It was dirty, it was ugly, it was physical on both ends,” Orsillo said. “We knew that coming in and we let our emotions get a hold of us a little bit. But we are still learning and we are still growing.”
Texas A&M’s pressure defense forced ASU (7-2) into 27 turnovers, including 15 in the first half.
The Sun Devils made only five field goals in the first 20 minutes, but trailed only 30-23 at halftime thanks to a 13-of-14 performance from the free throw line.
ASU rallied in the second half to take the lead at 42-41 midway through.
But with the game tied at 57-57 with 4:12 remaining, Texas A&M capitalized on two ASU turnovers and scored the next eight points to secure the win.
“These are two of the best teams in the country as far as taking away what you want to do offensively,” Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “They just were a little better. It was a one-possession game with three minutes to go.”
After going 0 for 7 from the field in the first half, Orsillo scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half.
Orsillo’s left shoulder popped out of place when she ran into A&M’s Damitria Buchanan with nine minutes remaining. But the ASU trainer popped it back in on the court so Orsillo could continue playing.
Arizona State will have its second shot at a Texas-based Big 12 Conference opponent in less than 24 hours when the Sun Devils meet No. 6 Baylor on Sunday night.
“Texas A&M is a very good team and we did not play our best basketball for more than three or four minutes today and we stayed in there until the last three minutes,” Orsillo said. “I think this shows us a lot and this was good for us. This will be even better if we learn from it.”