By virtue of its win on Saturday, the ASU women’s basketball team is in the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009.
The No. 8-seed Sun Devils (23-9, 11-7 Pac-12) will take on No. 1-seed Notre Dame in the second round on Monday.
The Fighting Irish (33-0, 16-0 ACC) are looking to return to the Final Four for the fourth straight season.
The Fighting Irish got to the second round by defeating the No. 16-seed Robert Morris 93-42 on Saturday.
Notre Dame has not lost a game since losing to UConn in last year’s Final Four in New Orleans. The last time the Fighting Irish lost to a team that was not ranked in the top 5 was in February 2012, when they lost by two to West Virginia in South Bend, Ind.
Notre Dame’s offense is driven by the play of their guards. Senior guard Kayla McBride was selected by ACC coaches as the conference’s Player of the Year after averaging 17.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. Sophomore guard Jewell Loyd leads the team in scoring with 18.4 points per game and shoots 51.3 percent from the floor.
In ASU’s opening round game victory over Vanderbilt, its bench scored 38 points, led by freshman forward Sophie Brunner and sophomore guard Katie Hempen. Earlier in the week, coach Charli Turner Thorne noted that depth would be a key for her team in the postseason.
“I think it’s a strength, for sure,” Turner Thorne said. “People can get in foul trouble, and it’s win or go home, so you’re paying for everything, so if a player gets in foul trouble and, really, we can survive that, and also if a few people are off, we have more people that we can try.”
The time difference played against ASU in the first round as their game started at 8 a.m Arizona time, but associate head coach Amanda Levens had the Sun Devils prepared for the change.
“What a great job by our team to play at 8 a.m. today,” Levens said. “We’re doing a walk through this morning, and I looked at my watch, and it said it was 4:30 in Arizona. At the beginning of the week, we asked them to change their schedule, go to bed at this time, wake up at this time, get on a routine so come 11 o’clock you’re bright eyed and ready to go, and man, they bought into it and did a fantastic job.”
Levens knows that the extra time between games in the NCAA tournament will help her team.
“That’s great recovery time for our team, just mentally and physically,” Levens said.
Tip-off for the game is scheduled for 3:30 Arizona time.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Tonis_The_Tiger