For the first time in the rivalry between the two schools, the Sun Devils and Wildcats faced off as ranked opponents.
No. 16 Arizona State went down to Tucson to try and avenge their first Pac-12 loss of the season, against No. 18 Arizona. However, things didn’t go ASU’s way, as its five-game winning streak was snapped after the Sun Devils lost 59-53.
The Sun Devils (15-5, 5-3 Pac-12) knew they were preparing for a close game, with the first matchup in Tempe ending in a five-point loss. During the teams weekly media availability, head coach Charli Turner Thorne had this to say about the two teams since their December 29th matchup.
“I really feel like, they feel like they didn’t play well either. I don’t think either team did. We certainly didn’t execute our game plan on either side of the floor and we missed shots,” Turner Thorne said. “I think the atmosphere is going to be amazing. It’s going to be fun. I think this team has really grown since then in terms of we’re not afraid of the moment and gotten tougher and we can take punches. It’s going to come down to executing.”
The atmosphere was something, as the McKale Center had 10,160 fans cheering on the Wildcats.
Arizona (16-3, 5-3) hadn’t swept the season series in 20 years but thanks to the help of junior guard Aari McDonald, the Wildcats were able to hold off a late rally by the Sun Devils.
McDonald, finished with 24 points (10-15 free throws) and 11 rebounds as she went head to head with Robbi Ryan on the scoresheet.
Ryan, finished the game as the leading scorer and reached the 1,000 career point milestone for her career. She scored 25 points on 10-21 shooting (4-9 3-pt) and grabbed five rebounds.
As a team, the Sun Devils shot 36 percent (20-55) from the field and 31 percent from 3-point range (5-16). The Wildcats only shot 33 percent from the field (16-48), but were able to hit more shots from 3-point range (9-23).
The biggest difference in the game was free throws. ASU had 18 fouls compared to the Arizona’s 14. However, more of the Sun Devils fouls put the Wildcats to the line. Arizona went 18-27 from the line and ASU went 8-11.
Neither team will play on Sunday as they get a whole week off to prepare for their next matchups. They will take on the Los Angeles schools, January 31st and February 2nd.