ASU women’s basketball looks to get back to winning in final home weekend

Three straight losses is not how the ASU women’s basketball team would have liked to start the final run of its Pac-12 schedule, but that is exactly the position it is in heading into the final home weekend of the season.

The No. 20 Sun Devils (20-6, 9-5 Pac-12) will host the Colorado Buffaloes on Friday night and Utah for Senior Day on Sunday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena.

Coming off losses to then-No. 6 Stanford and then-No. 22 California last weekend, the Sun Devils are ready to put the past behind them.

 
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Coach Charli Turner Thorne said she knows what kind of mindset her girls need to have going into the final home weekend of the season.

“It’s obviously a tough stretch to end the season,” Turner Thorne said. “We are going to be very determined to right the ship and finish off strong.”

The first game of the weekend is Friday night as the Sun Devils will host Colorado.

The Buffaloes (14-11, 4-10 Pac-12) started out the season ranked and were as high as No. 11 in the AP Top 25 before conference play started, but the Buffaloes have had a rough time in the Pac-12.

Turner Thorne is well aware of Colorado’s struggles and how they have affected the team this year.

“They’ve had their struggles this year after starting out very well,” Turner Thorne said. “They’re a very hungry team who are used to winning.”

Colorado’s strength is in the middle, where their two leading scorers and rebounders play. Sophomore forward Arielle Roberson averages 12.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game and junior forward Jen Reese follows closely behind with 12.5 points and 6.2 boards per game.

The Utes (10-15, 3-11 Pac-12) will pose their own set of problems for ASU on Senior Day. They too are very good in the paint, led by senior forward Michelle Plouffe, who averages a double-double of 18.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

Turner Thorne said she recognizes the greatness of Plouffe.

“She is just one of the best players in the conference,” Turner Thorne said. “She’s very versatile offensively, but a major key is that we can’t let her run the paint.”

The last time ASU played these teams, the Sun Devils won both games in the mountain region, both by three or fewer points.

On Jan. 24, the Sun Devils beat Utah 65-62, then took down Colorado 68-66 two days later. Both wins came on the strength of great defensive stands by junior guard Promise Amukamara.

Turner Thorne knows how important this weekend is for her team moving forward to the postseason.

“This is really the stretch where we need to refocus our team,” Turner Thorne said. “We’re getting back to where we were, but we’re not all the way back yet, and that’s what we need to do.”

Reach the reporter at mtonis@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @Tonis_The_Tiger