(Photo Credit: Mauricio Casillas/WCSN)
No. 15 Arizona State (20-5, 9-4) comes into Berkeley following a blowout loss against No. 6 Stanford on Friday, in a game where they struggled mightily on offense.
The Sun Devils held off No. 22 California (17-7, 9-4) in their first meeting last month in Tempe, but the Golden Bears come into this contest riding some momentum and seeking revenge.
This is a huge game for both teams, as a win for either squad would put them in sole possession of second place in the Pac-12.
Winning on the road against a ranked, conference opponent may seem daunting, but if ASU can accomplish the following three tasks, they should come away victorious.
Keys to the game:
1. Shut down Reshanda Gray:
Junior forward Reshanda Gray is the Cal player the Sun Devils must key in on if they want to win. Gray is averaging 16.5 points per game and 7.9 rebounds per game on the season, and had a double-double against ASU in their last matchup with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Shutting Gray down would be huge for the Sun Devil defense, and would put pressure on other Cal players such as junior guard Brittany Boyd to chip in offensively.
2. Win the point guard duel:
ASU senior guard Deja Mann will have a tough matchup against Boyd, who comes into this one averaging 3.1 steals per game. Even though Mann is the leading scorer for the Sun Devils, she will most likely not be as aggressive with the ball if Boyd is matched up on her, thus making the frontcourt play of Sophie Brunner and Kelsey Moos more important.
3. Make free throws, they are “free” for a reason:
ASU comes into the game shooting just 69 percent from the charity stripe, and for once that mark is higher than their opponent, as Cal comes in shooting 66.7 percent from the line. If ASU can get to the line, force Gray into some foul trouble, and come away with points while doing so, a win is likely.
Tipoff is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. MT Sunday night at Haas Pavilion.
You can reach Brendan Kennealy on twitter at @BrendanKennealy or through email at email@example.com