9:00 PM ET, December 18, 2006
PHOENIX (AP) -- There's a reason basketball is an indoor sport. It's cold outside in mid-December, even in the desert, and it might rain.
Just like it did Monday night.
Arizona State (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) beat Texas Tech 61-45 when the second outdoor game in women's college basketball history was called on account of rain with 4:18 to play at Chase Field, home of baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks.
"A basketball game has never been rained out before," Arizona State's Emily Westerberg said, "so I think it's really cool to be a part of that."
They pulled out the tarp but there wasn't time to close the roof before the court got dangerously wet and the game was called because of concern that players would be injured.
"I think it was a blast, actually," Arizona State's Danielle Orsillo said of the game's damp finish. "I think it just added more character to the game. It was really fun."
|No. 11 Arizona State and Texas Tech met on Chase Field for the second outdoor game in women's college basketball history. (Rick Scuteri/US Presswire)|
"It was really cold, like really cold," said Orsillo, one of two ASU players who chose not to wear long-sleeve shirts under their jerseys.
In the second half, when Arizona State led by as many as 20 points, a slight wind made it even colder, then the raindrops came.
A month ago in the U.S. Virgin Islands, ASU canceled its game against Rutgers in the championship of the Paradise Jam after the younger brother the Sun Devils' Aubrey Johnson died in his sleep there of an enlarged heart. So a little rain was no big deal.
"I just laughed. You've got to laugh," Sun Devils coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "You've got to have a sense of humor. This team's been through a lot these last few weeks, so you know what, this was fun."
Orsillo led the Sun Devils with 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting. Erin Myrick was the only Texas Tech player in double figures with 11 points.
"We did what we do," Turner Thorne said, "even though we were outside and it was a little nippy. It's a great challenge. Obviously we could have played in the comforts of our home in Wells Fargo Arena, but we kind of made a unique challenge out of it, and I think they did a great job with it."
The Lady Raiders (8-4) took a 7-2 lead, but the Sun Devils responded with a 22-5 outburst. Turner Thorne substitutes often and in waves, and the reserves -- led by 5-foot-5 freshman Dymond Simon -- triggered the run.
Simon's driving layup punctuated the surge and put Arizona State ahead 24-12 with 7:49 left in the half.
The Lady Raiders twice cut it to seven late in the first half and trailed 37-25 at the break.
Westerberg scored four in a 10-0 run early in the second half that put the Sun Devils up 47-27 on Danielle Orsillo's basket with 15:12 to play. Texas Tech never got closer than 16 again.
"If they'd have had a little radar or something we could have seen it coming and maybe closed the roof in time," Texas Tech coach Kristy Curry said. "Keep an eye on the tracker. We've got that on a channel back home."
The court used by the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury was moved from U.S. Airways Center, a block away, and installed along the first base side of the infield. The NCAA allowed players to wear long-sleeve shirts under their jerseys. Four ASU starters and one Texas Tech player did so. A couple of Arizona State players wore gloves on the bench.
The first women's outdoor game also was held at Chase -- then known as Bank One Ballpark -- in 2000, when Tennessee beat Arizona State 67-63.
Tennessee was invited to participate this year, too, but declined, opting instead for the warmth of Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, where the Lady Vols handed Arizona State its only loss this season.
"It was a great experience and it was great for women's basketball," said Curry, in her first year in Lubbock after a highly successful tenure at Purdue. "I guess one thing you can't control is the weather."