Women’s hoops faces UTEP in rematch from thriller

Junior forward/center Joy Burke looks for a shooting angle around a Texas Tech defender during the Sun Devils’ 61-49 loss to the Lady Raiders last Sunday. (Photo by Kyle Newman)

The ASU women’s basketball team will be tested on the road for the first time this Sunday at the UTEP.

Pushing the ball up the floor may be a theme, as both the Sun Devils (0-1) and the Miners (1-0) prefer to play a quick transition game.

A quick-paced game could work for the Sun Devils, who had tons of trouble in their half court offense last week versus Texas Tech’s 2-3 zone and turned the ball over 22 times.

Ball security has been the main theme for the Sun Devils this week during practice.

“We’re being very accountable with our turnovers,” junior center Joy Burke said. “We’re making an emphasis of it.”

Burke said during practice, she and her teammates run a sprint for every turnover they commit.

“It’s kind of just holding us accountable, and we’re consciously thinking about it,” Burke said.

Turning over the ball directly leads to losing possessions. One way the Sun Devils have been trying to increase their number of possessions throughout the game is keeping up with one of their strengths — rebounding.

“We’re continuing to rebound, because those are possessions in the game that matter the most,” senior forward Janae Fulcher said. “So, (we’re working on) having possession of the ball without turning it over and getting possessions by rebounding.”

UTEP, the reigning Conference USA season and tournament champions, is a great rebounding team as well. The Miners pulled down 53 boards versus Loyola Marymount in its home opener.

UTEP doesn’t have a standout scorer, so the Sun Devils have done their best to work against its balanced offense.

“Their scoring has been pretty consistent,” Burke said. “We just have to be ready for everybody and know their strengths.”

The last meeting between the two teams was last year when the Sun Devils came through with the win in a nail-biter, winning 47-45. UTEP finished the 2011-12 season with a 29-4 record.

“They probably are fired up that they didn’t win that game last year,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “They only lost four games last year and we just need to be ready to be consistent and do what we do longer, for longer stretches.

“We have to be ready for a very physical aggressive team to come out after us for 40 minutes. That’s what big time basketball is. And that’s what our conference is. It’ll be like a road Pac-12 game for us.”

 

Reach the reporter at gdemano@asu.edu