The Arizona State women’s basketball team returns home Friday to meet Oregon State at 6:30 p.m., following a two-game road trip that saw the No. 15 Sun Devils squeak past Utah, 65-62, and Colorado, 68-66.
ASU’s leading scorer Deja Mann, with 11.7 points per game, scored 18 over the Utes and 17 against the Buffaloes, a game where Colorado’s Arielle Roberson (13.3 ppg) was limited to six points on 3-of-12 shooting.
The wins brought the Sun Devils to 17-3 and 6-2 in the Pacific-12, with three home games in five days, as they also host Oregon at 1 p.m. Sunday and Arizona at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“We said don’t let the pressure take away the pleasure,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said after her team’s loss to Stanford Jan. 20. “We lost that San Diego game, and we were like ‘Hey, nobody expects anything from us, let’s just play,’ and we try to keep that mindset. They sometimes don’t bring that mental energy from practice to the game. The younger players are learning how to do that, and when we don’t have that, we don’t execute the game plan. I really feel that is our core area.”
Oregon State (12-8, 4-4 Pacific-12) is coming off consecutive home wins over Washington (75-68) and Washington State (72-57) and boasts the 11th-toughest schedule in America. The Beavers came within five of upsetting Penn State and lost to Notre Dame, Stanford and California all in the same week. Freshmen and sophomores contribute 82 percent of their points and 91 percent of the rebounds.
Sophomore guard Jamie Weisner leads the team with 14.4 points per game and was third in scoring during the FIBA Under-19 World Championships in Lithuania last summer, with 17 per game on a Canadian team that included Sun Devils freshman center Quinn Dornstauder.
Sydney Weise, a 6-foot freshman from Phoenix’s Pinnacle High School, is second for OSU with 13.3 points per game. In the win over the Cougars last week, the Beavers saw two players record double doubles for the first time in four seasons, as 6-foot-6 sophomore Ruth Hamblin (9 ppg and 8 rpg) scored 13 and grabbed 12, while 6-foot-3 sophomore Devin Hunter (8 ppg, 7 rpg) went for 16 and 10. Hamblin is second in the NCAA with 73 blocks this season.
ASU has won 19 of 20 against the Beavers, who haven’t been victorious in Tempe since 1996 – the same year as their last NCAA Tournament appearance. OSU hasn’t defeated a ranked team since No. 19 Utah in 2003 and hasn’t beaten one on the road since winning at No. 21 USC in 1995.