UA women's basketball has back-to-back series against ASU
A new wrinkle to the Pac-12 women’s basketball schedule has created “Rivalry Week” for the UA.
The Arizona women’s basketball team (12-13, 4-10 Pac-12) will host ASU (11-15, 3-11 Pac-12) tonight at 7 in McKale Center. Then it will travel up to Tempe on Sunday to play the Sun Devils again.
“We have never played our rival back-to-back, but at some point, everyone has to do it,” Arizona head coach Niya Butts said. “So we will see how it works out, but I think it will be fine. Anytime you are playing your rival, it’s always interesting anyway and certainly it will be when you have to go Tuesday and right back again.”
The Wildcats, fresh off of ending their eight-game losing streak Sunday, will look to end it by way of the Sun Devils. ASU has lost seven games in a row and nine of its last 10.
Gabriela Diaz / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA women's basketball team play against Utah at McKale. Arizona ended their 8-game losing streak with a 61-52 win.
The UA has designated tonight’s game a red-out and it will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.
Arizona is approaching the games as individual games and not a series.
“We’re just looking forward to the one on Tuesday and think about the other one after that,” Butts said.
The only time the Wildcats have ever played ASU back-to-back was during the 2001-02 season. On Feb. 23, 2002, the UA won 72-66 at home against ASU and then lost 66-58 on March 2, 2003 in the Pac-10 Tournament.
Last season, Arizona lost three games to the Sun Devils. Its last win against ASU was in 2011. ASU has won 13 of the last 14 matchups. The Sun Devils own the all-time series 52-31.
“We’ve only beat them a couple of times since I’ve been here,” senior guard Davellyn Whyte said. “I just like it because everyone asks me why I didn’t go to ASU and winning these games just proves to them why I didn’t. I’m not bashing them, but I don’t ever regret coming here.”
Senior forward Janae Fulcher leads the Sun Devils with 11.2 ppg and 4.4 rpg and junior forward/center Joy Burke grabs six rebounds a game.
ASU is in the top five in the Pac-12 in four categories. It is fourth in free-throw percentage (.687), fourth in offensive rebounding percentage (.381), fifth in assists (13.0) and fifth in scoring defense (59.4).
Butts said she wasn’t sure how playing the games back-to-back might affect the Wildcats.
“The only thing I know is that I will enjoy having the home court advantage on Tuesday and think about the other game when it comes up.”
So far this year, the Pac-12 women’s basketball rivalries have been one sided. The Bay Area schools split, each winning on the other’s court. Colorado won against Utah, Oregon State swept Oregon and Washington beat Washington State.
The L.A. schools play their rivalry series this week.
“Getting these wins, especially for my senior year, would feel really good,” Whyte said. “I think it’s hard to beat a team twice. If we focus, I think we have the better team.”
Butts said she has been impressed by the Wildcats’ rivalry with Arizona State.
“People are so passionate about the rivalry, and I love that,” Butts said. “I’m from the south and I’ve experienced a lot of rivalries. But for this one, it’s just amazing about the things that you hear, some of which I can’t share with you, but the fans are pretty passionate and I really enjoy that.”