Johnson, Westerberg help Sun Devils overcome slow start

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State has lost four home games since Aubree Johnson and Emily Westerberg arrived in 2003-04.

The senior co-captains weren't about to lose a fifth as their final homestand tipped off Thursday night.

Johnson scored 17 points and Westerberg added 14 as Arizona State (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) overcame its worst first half of the season to beat Oregon 61-48. The two forwards combined to score 18 of 20 points in helping Arizona State turn a 38-38 tie into a 58-45 lead.

"Emily and Aubree, you could see they were on a mission," coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "That is great senior leadership when you can just take over a game."

Turner Thorne recruited Johnson out of Post Falls, Idaho, and Westerberg out of Greenacres, Wash. The two have become a familiar tandem at Wells Fargo Arena, where ASU is 53-4 during their careers.

"I just know that I love playing with Aubree, and I can feed off of her, and I think she does the same as well," Westerberg said. "We both know how important these games are because we only have a few left. If anything, we're just trying to have fun."

The Sun Devils (22-3, 12-2 Pac-10) desperately needed their seniors to rescue them after a dismal first half. ASU had more turnovers (nine) than buckets (eight) on its way to a 26-18 halftime deficit. It was the Sun Devils' fewest first-half points this season.

The Sun Devils went 0-for-8 from 3-point range in the first half. Westerberg had four points and four turnovers by the intermission.

ASU continued to struggle early in the second half, but a flurry of Oregon turnovers let the Sun Devils back in the game. The Ducks finished with 26 turnovers.

"We didn't play real smart in terms of those 26 turnovers," Oregon coach Bev Smith said.

Arizona State used a 14-4 run to take its first lead of the game on Danielle Orsillo's 3-pointer with 10:55 remaining, and then Johnson and Westerberg carried the team down the stretch.

"You absolutely have to play two great halves to get a win down here," Smith said. "There's nothing good about one good half."

Kaela Chapdelaine and Carolyn Ganes each scored 10 points for the Ducks (13-10, 5-8), who have not beaten a ranked opponent since March 18, 2005, when they defeated No. 23 Texas Christian in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Arizona State improved to 19-0 against unranked teams.

Arizona State wraps up its home schedule Saturday against Oregon State before finishing the regular season at USC and UCLA next weekend. Saturday's game will be the final home appearance for Johnson and Westerberg.

"It's definitely mixed emotions," Johnson said. "We're sad that we don't get to play here any more. We love playing here. We've grown a lot as people and as players at Wells Fargo Arena.

"But at the same time, we have a lot of season ahead of us, so we're not really dwelling on, 'Oh, it's our last home game," she said. "We're going to play hard and we're going to look to get better."