Pac-12 play has begun and no matter the sport, nail bitters are in full effect. In this case it involved two rivals on the basketball court.
The No. 18 Arizona Wildcats (12-0, 1-0 Pac-12) entered conference play undefeated and favored in the matchup against the Sun Devils. The Sun Devils had the Wildcats number this decade, but it was the team from Tucson who ended the decade off with a 58-53 Territorial win.
The Sun Devils (10-3, 0-1) started the game off with a seven-point lead. However, they struggled from the field for the whole game and weren't able to capitalize on the early lead.
Struggling from the field has been a norm for the young Sun Devils team, as they finished shooting 30 percent (20-66) from the field and only 11 percent from the 3-point line. This gave the Wildcats a chance to jump back into the game.
Lead by junior guard Aaari McDonald and sophomore forward Cate Reese, the Wildcats were able to take advantage of the shooting woes of their rivals and build a lead into half-time.
Despite those struggles from the field, the Sun Devils were able to go on multiple 6-0 runs throughout the game. However, it wouldn't equate too much as they never regained the lead in the second half.
In the fourth quarter, a Wildcat lead shrunk from the likes of eight to one, as the Sun Devils connected often from the field. Lead by McDonald and Reese, the Wildcats were able to hold onto the lead as the two finished the game with 37 combined points.
ASU had a chance to tie the game at 53, with under 30 seconds to play. Sophomore guard Taya Hanson shot a 3-pointer but it was tipped by junior forward Sam Thomas.
Thomas’s shot block wasn’t the only thing she did in the fourth quarter, she went to the line eight times, all in the fourth, and made five free throws. Her effort in the fourth quarter gave the Wildcats the win, keeping the team undefeated.
The Sun Devils opened Pac-12 play with a loss and will head to Los Angeles in 2020 to take on No. 10 UCLA and USC.