ASU women’s basketball has first round bye in Pac-12 Tournament despite disappointing end to season

After dropping its final two games of the season, the ASU women’s basketball team is the fourth seed and has a bye in the Pac-12 tournament which starts Thursday at KeyArena in Seattle.

The Sun Devils (22-8, 11-7 Pac-12) lost five of their last seven regular season games, dropping them from the AP Top 25 for the first time since Dec. 23.

Coach Charli Turner Thorne has seen her team’s offensive production slip toward the end of the season and she believes fatigue is a major factor.

“That’s been the downfall of ours in the second half of conference,” Turner Thorne said. “We’ve had games where we can’t run and we’re not getting to the free throw line and not generating enough offense to win.”

ASU’s first game will come against either USC or UA on Friday afternoon depending on the outcome of the game between the two teams Thursday.

The Trojans (18-12, 11-7 Pac-12) traveled to Tempe and lost in overtime in their lone meeting with ASU this season.

The Wildcats (5-24, 1-17 Pac-12) faced off with ASU twice this season, losing to the Sun Devils at Wells Fargo Arena, but avenging that game by defeating their rivals and earning their lone conference win later that same week in Tucson.

Tammy Blackburn, an analyst for the Pac-12 Networks who will be covering the tournament, thinks that both matchups will be good matchups for the Sun Devils, but thinks the Trojans will provide a more enticing game to watch.

“I think both of these teams will give ASU a good game, but I am very intrigued by a USC-ASU game,” Blackburn, who covered two ASU games in Tempe this year, said. “These two teams play very similar styles and will be a fun matchup.”

On the other hand, Blackburn would like to see how ASU would respond in a game against UA, a rival who beat them earlier in the year.

The Sun Devils are looking forward to competing for the Pac-12 title and Turner Thorne is more focused on the task as a whole than specific opponents at the moment.

“We’re just looking forward to playing,” she said. “It doesn’t really matter who we play; we just need to get back to doing what we do to win games. We’ve got to play a lot harder, be a lot tougher and more consistent, and if we do that, bring it on.”

Should the Sun Devils win their first game, they would likely play Stanford, a team many believe will not only win the Pac-12 Tournament but has a legitimate shot to take home the NCAA Championship.

Although Blackburn believes that Stanford is a large favorite to win the Pac-12, she thinks that ASU is a team that could make some noise and knock off the vaunted Cardinal.

“Teams like Oregon State, ASU and Washington State definitely have a chance to make a run at the title,” Blackburn said.

With the regular schedule over, Turner Thorne and her team have shifted their goals to the postseason.

“Our goal now is to go win some games in the conference tournament and get a bid and get healthy,” Turner Thorne said.

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