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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona women’s basketball battles Sun Devils in rare weekend double-header

Arizona+womens+basketball+players+huddle+after+their+game+against+Washington+State+on+Jan.+15+in+McKale+Center.
Carmen Valencia

Arizona women’s basketball players huddle after their game against Washington State on Jan. 15 in McKale Center.

The Arizona Wildcats women’s basketball team, fresh off their third conference win of the season against Washington State on Sunday, will take on the rival ASU Sun Devils this weekend in a rare back-to-back matchup. The Wildcats host the Sun Devils on Friday in McKale Center and follow it up against ASU in Tempe on Sunday.

The Sun Devils, ranked No. 23 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, has been a program teetering between women’s college basketball elite and irrelevance for the past couple seasons, failing to get to an Elite Eight despite being one of the best teams in the country the past two seasons.

ASU, on paper, is the better team, but styles make fights and this game is as good as any for the Wildcats to secure a key home win against a ranked opponent, something they have had a penchant of doing seemingly every year despite the lack of overall programs success.

“I think we’re playing at a high level right now and I think we match up very well with them,” said Arizona head coach Adia Barnes. “You at least want to get a split the weekend; I think that’s very realistic.”

Losing to ASU would be something Barnes isn’t used to, having never lost to the Sun Devils during her playing career at Arizona. For that to maintain this weekend she will need her team to play better than it has all season, and a key player that she will depend on is senior forward LaBrittney Jones.

Jones is the team’s bedrock, its foundation, the Wildcats leader who is climbing up the all-time charts as her career comes to an end at Arizona. Jones is currently third all-time in career blocked shots, eighth in rebounds and 14th in career points with a shot to crack the top 10.

“It’s a great feeling to be a senior and be in the record books late in the year, leaving my legacy at Arizona,” Jones said.

In order for Arizona to pull off the upset in either of the two games it will need big performances from not only Jones but Malena Washington. Washington has been inconsistent so far this season. A perfect example of that would be her latest performance against Washington State, contributing 21 points but on 6-of-17 shooting and seven turnovers.

The Wildcats, as a team, will have to avoid the turnover bug—no small task as they rank dead last in the Pac-12 Conference in assist-to-turnover ratio, averaging 13.2 assists and 17.4 turnovers per game. 

Senior forward Sophie Brunner is the key player to watch for the Sun Devils; coming into the game she is averaging 14.2 points per game in conference play. With Brunner and senior center Quinn Dornstauder at 6-foot-1 and 6-foot-4, respectively, the Sun Devils have the size to present problems for an undersized Arizona team down low.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. In McKale Center Friday and 4 p.m. in Tempe on Sunday.


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