Women’s hoops aims to avoid upset against WSU

The ASU women’s basketball team has never lost a Field Trip Game. In fact, the Sun Devils have won by 24 points or more in all four previous editions.

ASU will look to continue that streak and extend its perfect home record against Washington State (4-14, 2-4 Pac-10) on Thursday.

The Sun Devils (11-4, 3-2 Pac-10) are coming off a dominating performance against UA on Sunday and will be looking to carry that momentum through the week and into the WSU game, senior forward Becca Tobin said.

“We had a really good practice today, everyone went hard and we were focused,” Tobin said. “We’ve just got to bring the same intensity into the game. Everyone’s pretty hyped on how we played and how our offense and our defense went. We’ve just got to stay focused on that.”

ASU’s defense, which held UA to 14 points in the first half on Sunday, doesn’t plan to let up against the Cougars, and again will be the focal point for the team, Tobin said.

“Our defense defines who we are,” Tobin said. “It’s what makes us unique.”

The Sun Devils also played very well against UA’s zone defense last weekend, with Tobin scoring 12 points and pulling down six rebounds, and ASU can expect to see plenty of the zone again on Thursday.

WSU’s play so far this season has been less than intimidating. No player is averaging more than nine points per game, with freshman guard/forward Sage Romberg leading the team at 8.9. Opponents have outscored the Cougars by an average of 10.4 points and their defense is the second worst in the conference.

However, an upset victory over Cal on Jan. 14 means WSU has the ability to be dangerous, and the Sun Devils have to stick to their game plan in order to come away with the win, redshirt sophomore forward Janae Fulcher said.

“We just have to do things we know we can do, like limiting our turnovers and offensive rebounding, and then just shutting down what they do,” Fulcher said. “We’re definitely going to take everything we played with in the U of A game and hopefully just try and carry everything over. The atmosphere is already going to be there because it’s Field Trip Day.”

Officially titled “Sparky’s Kids to College Field Trip Game,” the annual event invites thousands of schoolchildren from across the valley to attend, a unique crowd and something that has been great for the Sun Devils so far, ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said.
“It’s a fun atmosphere,” Turner Thorne said. “I think the energy of the kids really helps to get everyone in the game.”

ASU’s largest victory in the Field Trip Game came in 2007, a 40-point win over UCLA. However, Turner Thorne said that the game was by no means an automatic win, pointing to the home loss against Washington State last season, when the Cougars snapped an 11-game losing streak against the Sun Devils.

“Both the Washingtons have already shown in the conference that they’re good, and that they are teams that are going to have to be reckoned with,” Turner Thorne said.

Reach the reporter at egrasser@asu.edu