It’s time to get out the pink uniforms again. But that doesn’t mean the women wearing them at ASU on Sunday are going to be any less rough and tumble.
Not when it’s the blue and red coming into town for the second basketball match-up with the Wildcats this season.
The Sun Devils will be hosting their fourth annual Pink Zone game to help raise awareness for the crusade to find a cure for breast cancer. But it also happens to be arch-rival UofA that is the opponent as they meet again for the back end of the State Farm Territorial Cup series.
ASU’s players will be wearing pink uniforms instead of their traditional Maroon and Gold, as will many of the fans attending the game at Wells Fargo Arena. In addition to drawing attention to the cause, there will be a monetary incentive to drawing a large crowd for the rivalry. ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne has offered to personally donate 50 cents for every person who buys a ticket, with proceeds going to the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund.
Yow, a college Hall of Fame coach who grew into a legend at North Carolina State, passed away last year in the middle of the basketball season after fighting a long battle with cancer. Turner coached against her twice, in 1995 and 2000, losing both contests.
ASU (15-9, 7-6) is coming off a demoralizing 82-81 loss to Oregon last weekend and hopes to have junior point guard Tenaya Watson ready for when the Wildcats arrive. A sprained foot kept her out of the Oregon and Oregon State games. The Devils held it together to get a win against Oregon State, thanks in large part to a career-high scoring performance (26 points) by Danielle Orsillo.
She topped her career best with another 29 points against Oregon – and teammate Beca Tobin also put up a career-high 20 points – but it wasn’t enough this time and the Ducks snapped a losing streak of 10 straight games to the Devils. But that game really showed how much they missed the point play of Watson, a junior transfer from Central Arizona College who has started 21 games and leads the team in assists. The Devils committed 21 turnovers, enabling the Ducks to pick up 39 points off the errors.
The Wildcats (13-11, 6-7) , on the other hand, don’t have a full week of rest like ASU, but they are coming off a pair of wins that stopped a three-game losing skid on the road. They beat Oregon State at Corvallis, 60-55, and then coasted to a 73-50 non-conference win over Cal State Northridge at home last night.
It may come down to board work Sunday. Both teams have struggled lately in that category. The Sun Devils struggled on the defensive boards against Oregon and were limited to just 27 total rebounds. More importantly, Oregon held a 22-7 advantage on the offensive boards, which resulted in 31 second-chance points.
The Wildcats were also out-rebounded by Oregon State, 37-23. Combine that with 20 forced turnovers and the Cats were lucky to escape with the win.
A lot will depend on which team wants the ball more by protecting it on the floor and then pulling it off the glass.
ASU won the earlier meeting in January in Tucson, 73-67. But it was a close contest down to the final minutes. The Devils were actually trailing at the half and had to connect on all eight of their free throws in the final 47 seconds to hold on to the lead.
So look for a great game on Sunday. And wear your pink for a great cause.