The seasons of the Arizona and Arizona State women’s basketball teams have in no way paralleled each other in 2013-14.
The Sun Devils (20-3, 9-2 Pacific-12) have climbed to the No. 11 ranking in the nation with plenty of dramatic wins over ranked teams, such as North Carolina and Syracuse, while the Wildcats (4-18, 0-11) are utilizing an injury-depleted roster and are in danger of going winless in the league.
The geographic rivals will tipoff for the second time this week at 1 p.m. Sunday at the McKale Center in Tucson. On Tuesday in Tempe, ASU outscored the Cats 34-10 in the second half after trailing by nine in the first and a halftime tie, to win 60-36.
“I told them to just reflect a little bit,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said after Tuesday’s win. “You know where you are, but what do you want? For us, we know it’s that consistency, especially on the defensive end.”
Arizona senior guards Candice Warthen and Kama Griffitts are averaging 11.6 and 10.1 points per game, and senior Deja Mann leads ASU with 11.3. The difference is the Sun Devils include seven players scoring between five and 10 per contest, as opposed to the Wildcats’ four.
“We’re getting a little tired, but we’re getting into the second half of the Pac-12, so everyone’s a little tired,” Mann said.
On Tuesday, Turner Thorne’s bench outscored Niya Butts’ 36-8. ASU held Arizona to 23 percent shooting in the second half, and outscored it 21-10 off turnovers.
“February and March are all about toughness,” ASU senior center Joy Burke said. “I think the way Charli rotates us, it keeps us fresh, so we do have that advantage over other teams, it doesn’t really matter who’s on the court.”
The win over Arizona marked the end of a four-game winning streak of games decided by two or three points for the Sun Devils. Of the 20 victories, eight have been decided by three or fewer points and three others went to overtime. The last time Arizona defeated ASU was in 2011 at McKale Center, when its current seniors were freshmen.
Following this matchup, both teams head to Northern California to face No. 3 Stanford and No. 23 California. Feb. 14, Arizona is at the Golden Bears and ASU is at Stanford, and Feb. 16, they reverse opponents.
Going into the weekend, ASU was two games behind the perennial conference-leading Cardinal and two games above USC and Cal in the standings. The winless Wildcats were three games below Colorado, Oregon and Utah to avoid a last place finish.