Women’s hoops hosts annual ASU Classic tournament, play next four of five at home

The ASU women’s basketball team probably didn’t want to come back from Cancun.

In addition to the beaches and resort lifestyle of Mexico, coach Charli Turner Thorne and the Sun Devils (6-1) also enjoyed the basketball there, sweeping the Cancun Challenge, which included a comeback, overtime victory over then-No. 11 North Carolina.

“We continue to find ways to score,” Turner Thorne said. “Our ability to kind of just keep coming at people and find a way to win was really fun and I think the mark of a really good team.”

Nevertheless, the Sun Devils will return to Tempe to host four of their last five nonconference games, starting with the ASU Classic on Saturday.

ASU kicks off the tournament against Sacred Heart, a team that, while just 2-4, has competed with quality NCAA programs early in the season. The Pioneers have taken three teams to overtime, including programs such as St. John’s and Villanova.

“They run dribble-drive, so they’re going to really just attack us off the dribble,” Turner Thorne said. “They’re good at getting to the rim and drawing fouls and they can really find each other and shoot the three well.”

ASU senior guard Adrianne Thomas said the Sun Devils will focus, like always, on stout defense.

“We’re going to really work on just making sure that we’re on help side and that we have each other’s backs,” Thomas said.

Turner Thorne, who wasn’t too fond of playing on the same day as the Pac-12 football championship, also added that the game could draw more fans to the arena in anticipation of football.

“I don’t know if we always like playing the same day our football team plays but it’s championship weekend,” Turner Thorne said. “The students have to wait in line and we’re going to have them wait in Wells Fargo so we’re really hoping that they come, sit down and cheer for us.”

ASU will play the second game of the tournament Saturday morning, as Long Beach State and Harvard will square off at 9:00 a.m. Turner Thorne said the Sun Devils don’t prefer playing the second game, but will have to make it work.

“Usually we play the first game so that we can totally scout the second game so this kind of threw a monkey wrench into that because now we’re going to have to go into the locker room and prepare and stuff so we won’t be able to do the full live scout,” Turner Thorne said.

On Sunday, ASU will play either Long Beach State or Harvard, depending on Saturday’s action.

Harvard (6-2) just snapped its six-game losing streak Sunday by losing a tight match at St. John’s. Turner Thorne said the Crimson would have won that contest had senior guard Christine Clark, Harvard’s “best player” and leading scorer, not gone down with an injury in the second half.

Clark, who graduated from Tucson High School, will join fellow teammate and sophomore guard Shilpa Tummala in somewhat of a homecoming. Tummala attended St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix.

The Sun Devils could also face Long Beach State (4-2) Sunday. The 49ers were sparked on a four-game winning streak after a double-overtime victory at San Francisco. ASU is 1-15 all time against Long Beach State, having not played them since 1986.

Saturday’s game against Sacred Heart is listed to begin at 11:30 a.m. and Sunday’s contest will begin 20 minutes after the noon game.

Reach the reporter at bmargiot@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @BenMargiott.