Women’s hoops set to defend ASU Classic

Sophomore guard Promise Amukamara leaps up for a jumper in ASU’s 53-38 loss to UCLA on Feb. 23. (Photo courtesy of Steve Rodriguez)

The ASU women’s basketball team host the ASU Classic at Wells Fargo Arena this weekend, showcasing that ASU has won 11 times in the past 12 years.

The Sun Devils (2-3) are riding a wave of momentum as they return to the hardwood after winning the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout over the break.

ASU faces a struggling Binghamton Bearcats (0-6) team Saturday afternoon.

Following the Sun Devils game, UNLV (2-4) and No. 23 Dayton (7-0) will play to determine whom ASU faces next on Sunday.

The Sun Devils are in a similar situation as they were back in December 2010. ASU was slated to face No. 16 DePaul. The Blue Demons had won 10 straight games and were coming off an impressive win over No. 3 Stanford.

ASU ended up shooting over 50 percent to upset DePaul, 79-66.

ASU could potentially be in line to play Dayton on Sunday. The Flyers have won seven straight games and have had impressive wins over then-No. 25 DePaul and then-No. 13 Vanderbilt.

“They’re a perennial NCAA team,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “They’ve been strong for a while. But it’s kind of a bonus they beat Vanderbilt and DePaul, at DePaul.”

Rebounding and turnovers have been the main focuses this season, as the Sun Devils try to maximize their ball control. That doesn’t change this weekend.

“Just keeping possessions,” junior center Joy Burke said. “That’s rebounding, taking care of the ball (and) defense. It’s just fine tuning all of that.”

Burke is coming off a strong tournament performance, averaging 13 points and 7.6 rebounds during the three games in Las Vegas.

Redshirt senior forward Janae Fulcher has shown her offense skill set inside, as she recorded a career-high 26 points against Florida on Nov. 25.

A post presence requires execution, and the Sun Devils are looking to improve their execution and cut down on turnovers even more. They are averaging 20 per game.

“I just think we’re kind of anxious,” senior guard Micaela Pickens said. “We see a pass, and we’re not really setting it up, we’re just staring at it.”

Pickens scored in double-digits twice over those three games, and her role on offense has seemed to increase a bit.

“My coaches and my teammates have kind of encouraged me like, ‘Mac shoot more,’ or, ‘That’s probably not your shot,’” Pickens said. “So I’m just learning what shots to take and what shots not to take.”

Pickens and sophomore guard Promise Amukamara are the Sun Devils’ leaders in the transition — something they feel is one of their strengths.

“Transition offense is our best thing right now,” Pickens said. “When we have five players on the court willing to run the floor, that’s our best offense.”

ASU is still early into the season and has a ton of room for improvement.

“I think we’re getting tougher and learning how to push ourselves better,” Turner Thorne said.

With such a young team, there’s a lot for the Sun Devil women to learn.

“That’s the exciting thing,” she said. “We have a lot of room for improvement. We could be so much better.”

 

Reach the reporter at gdemano@asu.edu