The Devils are dancing in their home arena. The ASU women’s basketball team found out they are a 3 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament. The Devils will host #14 Ohio and have the opportunity to play their first two tournament games at home should they get past the Bobcats on Saturday.
Throughout the season, ASU head women’s basketball coach Charli Turner Thorne said the Arizona State administration, along with the Pac-12 conference, put forth a proposal for the Sun Devils to host the opening two rounds of the tournament. While there are clear advantages for not having to endure a cross country trip, Turner Thorne was most excited for the fan support early in the tournament.
“(The game) is in our community. It’s for our fans; this is for our Sun Devil nation right here and bring it to them,” Turner Thorne said. “That’s what I’m most excited for. Do I think we can win on the road? Heck yeah, but we are bring the NCAA tournament to Tempe, and that’s exciting.”
The Sun Devils are one of five Pac-12 teams dancing. While Turner Thorne and co. had to navigate through a tough conference schedule, three games played against Stanford may have been the turning points in the season for them.
“I would say the (turning point) was our first or second Stanford game. Just coming out against a really good and tough Stanford team that’s done traditionally really well,” sophomore guard Sophie Brunner said.
“Coming out and beating them twice, I know that gave us a lot of confidence knowing that we can beat one of the best in the Pac-12, and put us in a good position for the Pac-12 tournament.”
Stanford also made the Devils have to recalibrate and refocus for the NCAA tournament. The Cardinal knocked the Sun Devils out of the Pac-12 tournament, winning 59-56 in the conference semifinals.
“We know we did not defend the way we can defend at all. You have to credit Stanford, but at the same time, we are going to hit the court with a vengeance this weekend in terms of our defense,” Turner Thorne said.
With the Devils already being the top team in the conference in terms of scoring defense, that’s probably the last thing Ohio wants to hear.
ASU and Ohio open up the NCAA tournament on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.