By March Madness standards, this was positively sane.
Fourth-seeded Arizona State (21-10), ranked 22nd in the country and playing in its sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament, defeated 12th-seeded UCF 60-45 on Friday night in a first-round game at the University of Miami’s Watsco Center.
UCF (26-7), making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in eight years, had a breakthrough season but never led against the Sun Devils.
The Knights shot just 23.1 percent in the first period and 21.4 percent in the second, and that led to the Sun Devils building a 22-point lead by late in the third.
“We were prepared,” said UCF guard Komelia “Kay Kay” Wright, who led UCF with 18 points. “I just think some shots just didn’t fall early on in the game.”
Courtney Ekmark, who won two national titles before transferring from Connecticut, led Arizona State with a game-high 20 points. Kiannis Ibis added a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
In Friday’s postgame press conference, Sun Devils coach Charli Turner Thorne didn’t know who would become Arizona State’s next opponent — Miami or Florida Gulf Coast. The Sun Devils, she assured, would be ready for either team.
“The mission is to get past the second round,” Turner Thorne said. “Miami in my opinion is the best four seed in the NCAA Tournament, having beaten Notre Dame and Louisville. And you can never count out Florida Gulf Coast.”