With mirroring records and resumes, No. 20 Syracuse visits the Arizona State women’s basketball team at 6 p.m. Monday night, the final non-conference test for each team.
Still one ranking away from the AP Top 25, the Sun Devils are 10-1 and are coming off a 75-73 win over Miami last Saturday, in which they trailed by nine in the first half and survived a half-court miss as time expired.
The Orange is 11-1 and is freshly removed from a 64-62 win over St. Joseph’s on a Brittney Sykes buzzer beater, the same Saturday, erasing a 14-point deficit.
Syracuse was 17-for-17 from the free throw line versus the Hawks, while ASU’s Adrianne Thomas was 14-for-17 against the Hurricanes, recording all of her points from there.
Sykes, the 5-foot-9 sophomore guard from Newark, is averaging 19.8 points and 5.7 rebounds and has four consecutive 20-point performances for Syracuse. Sophomore guard Brianna Butler is scoring 14.9 per game, and 6-foot-3 senior center Shakeya Leary scores 10.7, grabs 9.3 rebounds and has 19 blocks on the season.
Senior guards Deja Mann (11.9) and Thomas (10.5) continue to lead the Sun Devils in offense, as ASU is trying to go 3-0 versus the ACC following wins over North Carolina and Miami.
“We set a lot of performance goals, but our team set the goal to go undefeated in the preseason,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thone said after the Miami game. “We just looked at each game like, ‘We can win that game.’ This team really believes in themselves. They work really hard, they’re really committed. Obviously, our confidence is built, but going into this preseason, they felt they could win every game.”
Last season, the Orange finished 24-8 and lost as a No. 7 seed to Creighton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, graduating career scoring leader Kayla Alexander to the San Antonio Silver Stars in the spring. Syracuse is 0-5 all time in tourney games.
Syracuse’s lone loss was 97-91 at Iowa, of which it answered back with home wins over Temple, Niagara and last weekend’s versus St. Joe’s, its 60th consecutive non-conference home victory. The Orange, behind eighth-year head coach Quentin Hillsman, opened the season with a 69-65 win at Washington State (of which ASU initiates its Pacific-12 Conference schedule with on Jan. 3), defeated Texas A&M by 15 (while the Aggies were ranked No. 11 in the nation), Texas by 12, and Memphis by 19.
“Syracuse on paper is the best team we’ve played at home,” Turner Thorne said. “I think they’re going to be the best defensive team we’ve played so far.”
Connecticut still leads the polls at 12-0, and Notre Dame is second at 10-0. No. 11 Iowa State and No. 14 Oklahoma State are the other two unbeaten teams in the Top 25. According to the coaches poll, Syracuse is ranked No. 23 and ASU is No. 27.