Arizona gets narrow win in gymnastics Duel in Desert

The Arizona State gymnastics squad managed to close the gap with University of Arizona, but couldn’t quite pull off the win in this year’s Duel in the Desert.

A narrow win for the Wildcats picked up a full point in the State Farm Territorial Cup competition, thanks in part to three Sun Devil falls in the beam competition, one of Arizona’s strongest events.

The beam results saw Arizona hit a season-high team score of 48.8 in that event, while ASU finished the competition with a total of 46.8.

But that was the only event on the day that wasn’t tightly-contested.

Arizona won the home meet with a 193.625 to 192.050 total.  That was closer than when the two teams competed just two weeks ago in the new Pac-10 Showcase to preview the season.  Arizona finished fourth at the Showcase, held at UCLA, with 193.825 points and ASU compiled 191.850 points for sixth place.

And both teams entered the season nationally-ranked, with No. 19 Arizona having a slight edge on No. 25 ASU.

The Sun Devils took an early lead in the weekend match-up by winning the vault, 48.225 to 47.975, despite junior Deanna Graham posting an impressive score of 9.850 for the Cats.  Teammate Jordan Williams tied with ASU’s Samantha Seaman for second at 9.750.

Graham is a Tucson native who was the only Wildcat to qualify last season in the individual all-around competition at the NCAA championships.

But the Cats tied things up after the second event.

In the uneven bars, ASU hit five-for-five routines, with junior Stephanie Hangartner leading the Devils with a 9.775 score, but was edged out by the Cats’ 48.850.  Arizona’s Miranda Russell performed a flawless routine for a career-high 9.9.

Brittany Schuett and Amanda Davies both scored 9.725 in the floor event, to lead ASU to a slim 48.425 – 48.00 win in that competition.  Aubree Cristello posted a 9.8 for the Cats.

The Cats also took home bragging rights in the all-around scoring, as Molly Quirk finished in first place with a 38.775 total, with ASU senior Mary Atkinson close behind with 38.675 points.

Atkinson was the lone Sun Devil to reach the NCAA championships last season, where she earned All-America honors in the all-around.

The Sun Devils get to move back onto their own mats on Friday when they host their first home meet of the season, taking on Brown University in Wells Fargo Arena.

Arizona, which fell to No. 31 following a loss to BYU in a three-way meet last week, will stay in the friendly confines of McKale Center to host No. 14 Boise State.

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)