Women’s basketball on bubble for NCAA tournament

(Photo by Sam Rosenbaum)

Three of the worst words in college basketball are “on the bubble,” which is exactly where the ASU women’s basketball team is this point in the season.

Last weekend was a tough one for the Sun Devils, who had a chance to even up their series at UCLA and USC.

Pre-existing injuries held the Sun Devils back in their recent road trip, and the southern California schools swept ASU.

After last weekend, the Sun Devils are now ranked No. 6 in the Pac-12 with 18 wins. ASU will not get a first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament.

Aside from record, the NCAA selection committee also considers a team’s signature wins.

ASU competed against three ranked teams — Rutgers, DePaul and Stanford — but the Sun Devils were unable to pull out a victory against any of the three.

However, the Sun Devils’ future is in their own hands. They have a chance to finish out their conference season with a win over rival UA.

A deep run in the Pac-12 tournament can also raise the Sun Devils’ chances of getting to the Big Dance.

 

Mann taking over

 

As the season has drawn to a close, junior guard Deja Mann has been putting up big numbers for the Sun Devils.

She also changed up her hairstyle. Since Mann removed her braids, she has totaled 50 points in her last six games, in two of which she was the leading scorer.

In her last game, she led the team with a career-high 22 points.

Earlier in the year, coach Joseph Anders said Mann is almost too unselfish with the ball sometimes. The coaches worked with her so she could create her own shot.

As the season progressed, Mann has tried to live up to the challenge, and her recent offensive output has been the result.

 

ASU feels pressure

 

In practice last week, the Sun Devils spent a lot of time working to break the full-court press, something the team faced a lot in conference play this season.

When teams present ASU with the press, it leads to turnovers from the Sun Devils.

Junior guard Micaela Pickens said she expects teams to press them.

“If they’re smart, they will probably press us,” Pickens said. “We are pretty bad at presses. We are just a little bit focused on them bringing it out just to mess with our strategies. I think we are pretty tough, so we are going to be good.”

 

Devils get much needed rest

 

If there is any team that needs a break this week, it is the Sun Devils, as they have been playing through injuries.

Seniors guard Olivia Major and forward Kimberly Brandon were hindered by the grueling season.

Major suffered a separated shoulder, and Brandon was feeling ill during the week. Both missed the game against UCLA and played limited minutes in the loss to USC.

ASU will take advantage of the extra time off to recuperate and try to get back to 100 percent for the conference tournament.

 

Reach the reporter at ehubbard@asu.edu
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