ASU women’s basketball hopeful for future despite quick exit in Pac-12 tournament

ASU’s Trayanna Crisp puts up a shot against Utah in the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament. The Sun Devils lost to end their season. (Photo courtesy of Sun Devil Athletics)

LAS VEGAS – Following her team’s season-ending loss to Utah in the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament, Arizona State coach Natasha Adair sat in front of the media and answered questions as she had done so many times before.

With sophomore guards Jalyn Brown and Trayanna Crisp beside her late Wednesday night, there were no somber sentiments from any of them but rather hope and anticipation for next season and what Adair is hoping to build with Brown and Crisp by her side on the court.

“For me, this is my fourth rebuild,” Adair said. “So I have done it several times. And I know what it looks like. And it doesn’t happen overnight, as much as we wish that it does. But you have to see the growth, and the players have to see the growth, and you have to celebrate everything

“If you look at where we were the first time we played (Utah) and you look at our team now, it’s night and day. So we celebrate the small victories throughout. For a very young team, I’m excited about the experience that they’ve gained against the best players in the country. And you can continue to build on that.”

Although the first-round game resulted in a 71-60 loss for the Sun Devils, there were positives to take away. They hit one of their goals by scoring double-digits in every quarter. They shot 40.4% from the field throughout, and they kept it close with Utah, not allowing the Utes to take a permanent double-digit lead until 2:23 in the fourth quarter.

Brown, as she’s done for most of the season, led ASU in minutes played and contributed the second-most points of the night for ASU at 15. Prior to Wednesday’s game, Brown was named an honorable mention to the All-Pac-12 team and voted to the All-Pac-12 team by the media.

The move to the desert was a stark turnaround for the Baltimore native who began her career at Louisville. With the Cardinals, she played in just seven games in the 2022-23 season. Now with ASU, Brown has established herself as a talented young player who can compete with the very best.

“I think ASU provided me with opportunity,” Brown said. “So for me, it was just coming to a program where I knew that I was going to be able to just excel. I was going to have coaches who believed in me. I was going to have people surrounding me who genuinely loved and cared for me. I feel like that’s all I needed to be able to be the player that I am.

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“I can put the ball in the basket, but I feel like what surrounds me is most important for me to be the player that I am today.”

The Sun Devils have already shown growth from where they were a year ago. In Adair’s first season, ASU finished last in the Pac-12 with an 8-20 record, having won just one conference game. This year, it tied last season’s win total before even getting to Pac-12 play and finished 11-20 with three Pac-12 wins to earn the 11th seed in the tournament.

Now with a move to the Big 12 Conference on the horizon for ASU, a new chapter of Sun Devils women’s basketball is getting ready to unfold and Adair will be at the helm. She’ll carry her decades of coaching experience with her as she prepares the Sun Devils for a new era. But for now, in this era, Adair is proud of her team and its fight in its Pac-12 finale.

“It speaks to our growth,” Adair said. “It speaks to their fight, their competitiveness. I have two sophomores sitting next to me, so you’re always going to hear from me the positive. You’re always going to know that there’s a better outlook moving forward, and that’s what they just heard.
“This is the hard part at the end of the season when you have to say goodbye to your seniors. But what we created, what we’re creating is something special. This is a group that grew. This is a group that will continue to grow.”

Tia Reid(she/hers)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Tia Reid expects to graduate in May 2025 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a minor in African and African American studies. Reid previously worked as a production intern with ESPN and in production and on-camera with the Pac-12 Network.