What makes an NCAA tournament team? There are numerous numbers to calculate which teams are considered the “best” for the 68-team field, but none have had Arizona State as a team slated to play postseason basketball until recently.
According to ESPN.com’s Charlie Creme, ASU (12-8, 4-3 Pac-12) was considered a “last four in” team, indicating that of the at-large bids, the Sun Devils would barely make the cut.
After their 81-77 victory over the No. 6-ranked Arizona Wildcats (17-4, 7-4), the Sun Devils’ dreams of going dancing have become more of a reality with each passing game.
ring the bell & bust out the water bottles pic.twitter.com/VtrdHafp07— Sun Devil WBB (@SunDevilWBB) February 12, 2022
Head coach Charli Turner Thorne has stated numerous times throughout the year that this team has what it takes to make and play in the NCAA tournament. It really started showing in their win against Oregon last weekend.
On Friday night in Desert Financial Arena, however, ASU made a statement that beating one ranked opponent was not a fluke.
Arizona State led for almost 35 minutes in the Territorial Cup win, opening up a lead as much as 14 in the third quarter. They were flat-out controlling the game.
The Wildcats did not go away. They stormed back in the final minutes to make the game close. That is when a team relies on its senior leadership to make winning plays.
Jade Van Hyfte, who only played two games last year and made her return to the floor earlier this season, made arguably the most crucial play for the Sun Devils’ season with 17 seconds left and ASU up by one.
Arizona guard Shaina Pellington drove right looking to put the Wildcats on top. Van Hyfte slid over outside the restricted area and took a textbook charge. ASU basketball.
Mael Gilles and Jade Loville would go on to hit three free throws to seal the upset for ASU. Loville finished with a team-high 27-points and Taya Hanson added 19 as well.
“It feels good to get this one.”— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) February 12, 2022
Jade Loville joined the broadcast after her 27-point performance pushed @SunDevilWBB to an 81-77 upset over rival No. 6 Arizona.#ForksUp | #Pac12WBB | @ZayoGroup pic.twitter.com/s0zZCpMdkx
Court storming ensued and the Sun Devils seemed to have found their swagger. We will see if it continues when ASU travels down south for rematch with the Wildcats on Sunday at 12 p.m. local time.
But if they continue playing the way they have been, there is no doubt they have what it takes to play in the Big Dance.