ASU women beat UA, 75-43, to avenge men’s hoops loss

Arizona State’s women’s basketball team evened the score yesterday.  And then some.

They invited Arizona to their side of the state and then handed them an embarrassing 32-point drubbing in front of the Sun Devil fans at Wells Fargo Arena.

The win came a day after the ASU men dropped their game to the Widlcats, 80-69, so it evens the points earned toward the Territorial Cup standings.

But, for third-year Arizona coach Niya Butts, it signals deeper problems in her efforts to rebuild the once-proud Wildcat program.

ASU (11-4) is a middle-of-the-road team in the Pac-10 with a 3-2 mark.  Yet they beat the Cats yesterday by 32 points.   Earlier in the season, Tennessee, an annual Top-5 team nationally, beat ASU by 16 points.

So how big is that next step for Arizona (11-5), when they are able to become competitive just within their own conference, much less nationally?

The Cats opened Pac-10 play by beating the conference bottom-feeders, Oregon (by 15 points) and Oregon State (by just two).  Oregon State, for crying out loud, is the lone occupant in the conference cellar at 0-6.  And the Beavers took the game down to the wire before succumbing, 67-65.

But the last three games have been to legitimate title contenders and the losses have been by large margins… lost to Stanford by 33 points, to California by 20, and now ASU.

Butts’ team is falling down the rabbit hole.

They had 15 points at the half, as the team as a whole shot 19 percent from the field for the first half – and just 29.8 percent for the entire game.

To add to the first-half train wreck, the Cats went almost seven minutes without a score and committed 11 turnovers.  The result was a 34-15 hole at the half.

The story in the trenches wasn’t much better.  ASU outrebounded their visitors, 41-30, with a freshman, Erica Barnes, leading the UA rebounding effort with six boards.

ASU had three scorers in double digits, led by Kimberly Brandon‘s 13 points and 10 rebounds.  Becca Tobin added 12 points and Tenaya Watson finished with 11.

Arizona was led by Davellyn White, who had 13 points.  The sixth-leading scorer in the conference was a dismal 3-of-16 from the field.  Soana Lucet contributed 12 points.

It has been five years since Arizona has beaten a Charli Turner Thorne- coached team.  That’s 11 straight losses to the Sun Devils.

Butts, who took over the UA program in 2008,  had the team on a high before conference play began, as the Cats got out to an 11-2 start, the first time that had happened since the 2003-04 season.

But the wheels started to come off the bandwagon when they struggled with the Oregon schools and then went into a steep slide with the last three.

Unless Butts rights the ship pretty soon, they may have to find another name for this ‘Duel in the Desert’ with ASU.

A duel implies evenly-matched opponents.

(Photo: ASU Athletics/Robert Kline)