With records that mirror one another, the Arizona (12-13, 4-10) and Arizona State (11-15, 3-11) women’s basketball teams tipoff twice the week, first at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Tucson, then at 1 p.m. Sunday in Tempe, with pride and positioning for the upcoming Pacific-12 Conference tournament on the line.
The Sun Devils lead the all-time series with the Wildcats, 50-26, and have won 16 of the last 18, including all three contests last season: 60-45 in Tempe, 70-63 in Tucson, and 68-53 in the Pacific-12 quarterfinals at Los Angeles. This season, the two are battling with the Oregon schools in the standings towards the bottom of the conference.
“It’s going to be a big game, neither team is going to have a lot of prep time,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “It’s going to be a total gut check. Maybe they get the edge on offense, and we get the edge defensively. Teams that are struggling for various reasons, and it will be who steps it up on rivalry day and gets it done.”
ASU dropped its seventh consecutive game on Sunday, falling to No. 20 Colorado, 71-63, after blowing two double-digit leads. Sun Devils Promise Amukamara, Janae Fulcher and Adrianne Thomas each scored 14, while Jen Reese led the Buffaloes with 22 points.
“A lot of those breakdowns, especially the long ones on offense are because we’re not on the same page with each other,” ASU junior center Joy Burke said after Friday’s loss to Utah in regards to her team’s struggles. “We need to block in and focus on what we need to do and what we’re running and get good looks. We need to be crashing and getting offensive rebounds too.”
Meanwhile, the Wildcats snapped an eight-game losing streak Sunday with a win over Utah in Tucson, 61-52. It was Arizona’s first win since Jan. 18 in Salt Lake City, also against the Utes. Davellyn Whyte scored 21, grabbed nine rebounds and swiped five steals, while Utah had two double-doubles from Michelle Plouffe (21 points and 16 rebounds) and Taryn Wicijowski (14 and 10).
Whyte, averaging 16.2 points per game, is fifth in the conference in scoring and is second in assists to Markel Walker of UCLA. The senior is the active career scoring leader for the conference and just passed the likes of Valley native and Tulsa Shock center Kayla Pedersen on the all-time list. Fulcher leads ASU with 11.6 per game.
Following the two meetings against one another, both teams play host to USC and No. 17 UCLA (19-6) the following week before the conference tournament begins in Seattle March 7.
Stanford (24-2, No. 4) and California (23-2, No. 6) mingle in the top of the national polls with Baylor, Notre Dame, Connecticut, and Duke (all 24-1), while Washington was in the also receiving votes category this week. Chiney Ogwumike, averaging 22 and 12 for the Cardinal, continues to make her case for the Wade Trophy, as well.