TEMPE, Ariz. — DiJonai Carrington puts up half-court shots every practice despite admonishments from her coach. Practice only game shots, Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer tells her junior guard.
So when Carrington hit a momentum-changing half-court shot at the end of the third quarter, she had a message for her coach: That's a game shot.
Alanna Smith scored 25 points and Carrington kicked of a key run with her half-court heave, helping the No. 6 Cardinal hold off No. 19 Arizona State 72-65 on Friday night.
"She practices it, so it wasn't surprising," VanDerveer said. "She can make that shot."
Stanford (13-1, 3-0 Pac-12) dominated the first half to lead by 12 before Arizona State (11-4, 2-2) charged back in the third quarter.
The Sun Devils pulled within 48-47, but Carrington buried a half-court shot at the buzzer to kick off a 9-0 Cardinal run. She finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Charnea Johnson-Chapman had 16 points for the Sun Devils, who went 4 of 19 from the 3-point arc and struggled defensively in every quarter but the third.
"We've got to be better. You have to play for 40 minutes and we're not," Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "We're not playing team offense, we're not executing our game plan."
The Cardinal opened up Pac-12 play with a sweep of the Southern California schools, beating USC by eight, UCLA by six.
The Sun Devils followed a conference-opening loss to rival Arizona by sweeping Utah and Colorado last weekend.
Arizona State had an offensive groove going against the Buffaloes, shooting 47 percent from the floor. The Sun Devils hit an offensive rut in the first half against Stanford, going 1 for 10 from 3-point range while shooting 27 percent. Some of it was Stanford's defense, but the Sun Devils also were well off the mark on numerous open looks.
The Cardinal had their inside-out game working, hitting 13 of 23 first-half shots, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range, to lead 34-22.
"Defensively, no comment," Turner Thorne said while shaking her head.
Roles reversed to open the second half.
Arizona State opened the second half with a 13-4 run, making six of its first 10 shots to pull within 38-35.
The Sun Devils kept hitting — 12 of 18 in the third quarter — while the Cardinal struggled finding an offensive flow. Carrington gave Stanford a momentum boost with her third-quarter buzzer-beater and the Cardinal held off one more Arizona State charge in the fourth quarter.
"We kind of had some what I call knucklehead plays (in the third), but I thought we regrouped really well," VanDerveer said. "We were able to find a way to win."
Stanford was superb at both ends in the first half and fourth quarter to overcome its struggles in the third.
Arizona State bounced back from Stanford's first-half flurry, but couldn't counter when the Cardinal hit again in the fourth quarter.
Johnson-Chapman had quiet games against Fresno State and Arizona, finishing with six combined points. Turner Thorne and her coaching staff challenged the senior center and she responded by hitting 8 of 12 shots and grabbing six rebounds.
"Fresno, UofA, she wasn't looking to score and we challenged her," Turner Thorne said. "Since then, she's been looking to score and playing a lot better."
Few teams have been able to slow Smith, Stanford's player of the year candidate. Able to shoot inside or out, the 6-foot-4 senior forward can hurt teams in multiple ways.
Smith had her versatility on display against the Sun Devils, hitting 9 of 15 shots while grabbing six rebounds and dishing out two assists.
"Even when we did help each other, she's a really good player and was going to knock down some shots," Johnson-Chapman said.
Stanford plays at Arizona on Sunday.
Arizona State hosts No. 24 California on Sunday.