The ASU women’s basketball team encounters arguably its toughest weekend of the season when it heads to northern California.
The Sun Devils (11-11, 3-7 Pac-12) face the No. 6 Cal on Friday night and No. 4 Stanford on Sunday afternoon.
Recently, ASU has been struggling from the field offensively. The Sun Devils need to be point offensively if they want to compete with the nation’s best.
Both Cal and Stanford are at the top of the Pac-12 in scoring, averaging more than 70 points per game.
“In order to be successful this weekend we’re going to have to space the floor better, be in tune with each other and go harder on offense,” coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “That’s going to be our greatest challenge, scoring the basketball.”
The Sun Devils haven’t scored that many points since Jan. 4 when they put up 74 in their Pac-12 opener at Washington.
ASU has played great on some nights and have shown its inexperience on others. It needs to find that consistency and sustainability to see success.
“In general as a team, we just need to lock-in better,” Turner Thorne said. “We’ll have two good possessions, then a lapse. That level of basketball is just not going to get it done. These kids understand that they have to be more consistent.”
The Golden Bears (19-2, 8-1 Pac-12) are led in scoring by senior guard Layshia Clarendon. She averages just under 15 points per game, good enough for eighth in the conference.
ASU will also need to contain junior forward Gennifer Brandon, who averages 12 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Besides scoring, Cal is successful because of its ability to increase its possessions. The Bears grab 44 rebounds per contest, second in the Pac-12.
Although rebounding has posed as a weakness in its past several games for ASU, it has shown some imporvement. ASU secured a season-high 55 boards last Sunday against UW.
Stanford will be just as, if not tougher than Cal for the Sun Devils.
This year’s Cardinal are led by the fourth best scorer in the nation, Chiney Ogwumike.
What sets aside the junior forward from other high scorers though is her efficiency. Ogwumike scores 22 points per game off of 58 percent shooting, good enough for seventh best in the nation.
However, Stanford is far from a team with one star. The perennial powerhouse can score from all angles, with two other players averaging double digits in scoring.
Its conference-bests 1.17 assist-to-turnover ratio and 32 percent field goal defense shows how efficient this team is on both ends.
Turner Thorne said both northern California teams have tons of talent. That something which ASU must contain even though this season just isn’t like past ones.
“In most years we’re used to being able to match up with anybody we play. That’s been our program for our last three years,” she said. “This year is just tough. We’re just not where we usually are. It’s going to be very different and challenging, but we’re up for the challenge.”
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