Although this season may not be one of the most successful for the Sun Devils, there is always one thing that they can hang their hat on if they prevail: beating UA.
The ASU women’s basketball team (11-15, 3-11 Pac-12) takes on the Wildcats (4-10, 12-13 Pac-12) once again this Sunday, finishing up its back-to-back games during this UA rivalry week.
Both teams aren’t having favorable years, but their poor seasons will only magnify this set of rivalry games, coach Charli Turner Thorne said.
She has won her past 11 of 12 games versus UA.
“Obviously our college fans care about every game,” Turner Thorne said. “But most of the Sun Devil nation only care about these two games and follow these two. It’s big.”
This UA matchup is huge motivation for ASU to also give back to fans with a win. Junior guard Adrianne Thomas said there’s not doubt it motivates the players more than usual.
“Whenever we play our rival schools, a fire tends to come out in us,” Thomas said. “We don’t want to upset our Sun Devil nation, because it’s just tradition to beat UA.”
With five freshmen and two transfers, the newest Sun Devils will realize the magnitude, whether it‘s before or after this year’s series is over.
“We have a very young team, so I talked to them for a minute or two about kind of what it means,” Turner Thorne said. “It definitely carries more significance than other games on our schedule.”
Veteran forward redshirt senior Janae Fulcher has seen a lot of Territorial Cup matchups in her time.
Fulcher was part of all three wins ASU had over UA last season, including one in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament.
“It’s going come down to who wants it more. We don’t lose to the U of A,” Fulcher said. “It’s a huge rivalry and everybody in town knows about, up here and down there. It’s going to be really good competition and we’ve been looking forward to it all season.”
This year ASU plays the Wildcats back-to-back and in a span of five days, which is a different format from past years.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t seem to bother the Sun Devils.
“It’s just another game,” Fulcher said. “They’re playing us in five days, too. It’s nothing different; it’s the same on both ends.”
The Wildcats sport two junior transfers, Kama Griffitts and Alli Gloyd, who lead UA in scoring. Griffitts averages 12 points, and Gloyd puts up nine per game.
After losing eight straight games, the Wildcats beat the Utah Utes last Sunday, Feb. 17.
Although both teams are currently bottom feeders in this conference, the Sun Devils and Wildcats will be playing for more than just a seldom victory.
They will be battling for pride and respect to see who deserves to be called Arizona’s best.
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