After dropping two of its three games in the Cancun challenge, the Arizona State women’s basketball team had something to prove this weekend in its return to Tempe. The Sun Devils won the ASU Classic this weekend, and they played well in the process.
Following two disheartening performances in Cancun, ASU went 2-0 this weekend against Buffalo and UC Riverside, respectively.
The first game of the tournament was against Buffalo, and the Sun Devils were able to defeat the Bulls by a score of 76-57.
The Buffalo game was not pretty as the Sun Devils only led by 11 going into the fourth quarter. ASU was able to pull away, making the win look more respectable.
While it may seem discouraging to Sun Devil fans that they were contested by a mid-major opponent, Buffalo is not a bad team. The Bulls came into the game 4-0 with double-digit wins against Clemson and Nebraska, and the team defeated UNLV 80-53 in the consolation game.
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It is actually impressive ASU handled Buffalo the way they did. The Bulls are a quality opponent, and this should give ASU confidence going forward.
The Sun Devils were once again victorious in the second game of the ASU Classic, as they defeated the UC Riverside Highlanders, 73-48. UC Riverside came into the tourney with a measly 1-6 record, but they were able to defeat UNLV in the opening game of the ASU Classic.
An early start helped contribute to the rout of the Highlanders, for the Sun Devils outscored UC Riverside 27-9 in the first quarter.
The wins helped improve ASU’s record to 7-2, and the team is now on a three-game winning streak.
As I previously mentioned, these wins at home should help bolster ASU’s confidence going forward with conference play looming. The Sun Devils still have three non-conference tests remaining before they begin competing against Pac-12 opponents.
The team travels to Tallahassee for a game next Sunday against the Florida State Seminoles. That could be a tough game for ASU because the Noles were a three-seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament, and the team is 8-0 on the season.
Sophomore Jamie Ruden said the tournament win will help the team down the stretch against top teams such as Florida State.
“Obviously we are going to do everything we can to win every game, but this early on in the season, the more momentum we can get, the better,” Ruden said. “We want to have some wins on our belt when we face those top-tier teams.”
Following the FSU game, the Sun Devils host Idaho and Arkansas. Both of those should be winnable, as Idaho is 2-4 and Arkansas is 5-3.
After what seemed like a devastating week in Cancun, it is quite possible that the Sun Devils end the non-conference portion of the schedule with a 9-3 or 10-2 record. This would set the team up well going into conference play in one of the toughest leagues in the NCAA.