No. 10 ASU women's basketball is on fire, and Sun Devil fans can expect head coach Charli Turner Thorne to keep fanning the flames in the coming weeks.
"There's so much season left," Turner Thorne said. "Who knows if somebody has a number by their name if they're really better than any of these other teams?"
Turner Thorne and her players agree that it is vital to not overlook upcoming opponents. With games against Colorado, Utah and Arizona on the docket, it's easy to become complacent and take the top position in the conference for granted.
As deep as the Pac-12 conference has proven itself to be, there's no room for error — even against a 5-10 Colorado side.
Senior guard Elisha Davis echoed Turner Thorne's sentiments and said that even lower-tier Pac-12 schools look like top teams on film.
"I think going into these games, it's looking at everyone as a threat and not underestimating anyone," Davis said. "The Pac-12 is one of the best conferences to be in because every team is great."
Davis makes a good point. According to our latest power rankings, there are eight tournament-caliber teams in this conference, and that number could easily fluctuate.
This makes it all the more imperative for the 13-3 Sun Devils to continue playing the kind of defense that brought them to this 10-game winning streak.
ASU is allowing its opponents to score 52.4 points per game, which is good for 13th in the country. This statistic is not only a testament to coach Turner Thorne — it displays the discipline and chemistry of this veteran Sun Devil team.
"We know not to take anything for granted, but it's nice to see all of our hard work paying off," senior guard Arnecia Hawkins said.
Despite how devastating it seemed at the time, Turner Thorne said the loss of junior forward Sophie Brunner for six games actually ended up being a positive for her team. Without Brunner and sporadic injuries to junior forward Kelsey Moos, younger players were thrust into important roles and gained valuable in-game experience along the way.
One player in particular who took full advantage of her increased minutes was freshman guard Sabrina Haines, who scored a career-high 19 points in ASU's 63-45 victory over Washington State on January 10.
Turner Thorne said Haines is "really coming along" in her first year as a Sun Devil.
"(Haines is) scoring so well that we're ready to rebound for her when she touches the ball," Turner Thorne said. "She can hit shots with people guarding her — that's valuable."
While Colorado is a young team with a losing record, Utah brings size and offensive prowess into its matchup with the Sun Devils. For ASU to emerge from the coming weekend 2-0, it will have to continue to get key contributions from the bench while maintaining a quality of play that reflects its high national ranking.
ASU vs. Colorado tips off on Friday, Jan. 15 at 11 a.m. while the Sun Devils take on the Utes at 12 p.m. on Sunday. Both games will be played at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe.
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