Although the ASU women’s basketball team is not going to make the NCAA tournament, there is still pressure this weekend.
The Sun Devils (13-15, 4-11 Pac-12) start their last homestand on Friday against No. 17 UCLA (21-16, 12-4) and play USC (8-19, 5-11) Sunday.
ASU hopes to make Senior Night the greatest night possible for senior forward Janae Fulcher and senior guard Micaela Pickens.
But more importantly, the Sun Devils are on their quest to reach a .500 winning percentage. Doing so will give them a shot at being chosen for the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
ASU would need to win out this weekend, then manage a first-round win in the Pac-12 tournament to get over the hump.
It’s a whole lot to take on, and ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne knows it.
“I’m honestly not taking any pressure off this team,” Turner Thorne said. “I’m kind of putting some pressure on them because that’s what you have to be doing when you get into March. It’s real pressure – it’s win or go home.”
Time is running out on the Sun Devils, and if they want any hope at some kind of postseason success, they’re going to need to pick up more victories.
“This time of the year everything is out on the line,” junior center Joy Burke said. “You don’t have a whole season ahead of you. We definitely are just focusing on finishing strong.”
As one of the team’s captains, Burke knows the importance of leadership and hopes to give senior leaders Fulcher and Pickens an enjoyable Senior Night.
“We love our seniors,” she said. “It’s a big weekend for them and as a team we need to go out with a bang for them. They’ve done so much for this program.”
The southern California teams will be coming into Tempe looking to ruin ASU’s celebratory weekend because both have more to prove.
The Bruins have No. 19 Colorado right on their tail. UCLA wants to solidify itself as the third-best team in this strong Pac-12 conference.
ASU managed to hold UCLA to only 54 points last meeting. Anything near that would give the Sun Devils a chance at the upset.
USC’s tumble through conference play started with its loss to UCLA, which it will look to avenge this weekend.
A remarkable second half gave the Sun Devils one of their few conference wins in their last meeting with the Trojans.
Coming off victories consisting of a double overtime victory and a game-winning 3-pointer in its UA series, ASU should have more magic left in the tank.
“I think it gave us confidence, and we know that we can win,” Fulcher said. “If we just stay with things, stay with our defense, stay disciplined and do what the coaches have set out for us, we can definitely win basketball games.”
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