(Photo: Tyler Strachan/WCSN)
Sunday will mark the final home game of the season for the No. 9 Arizona State Sun Devils, and will be the final game ASU’s five seniors play on their home court as they celebrate “senior day” against University of Washington at noon on Sunday.
The Sun Devils are coming off of a dominating win on Friday over Washington State. That marked the fifth win in a row for the Sun Devils behind another dominating performance from junior forward Sophie Brunner, who had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
In their last game against the Huskies in early January, ASU got away with a narrow eight-point victory.
Since January, Washington hasn’t been able to find a rhythm. Despite getting off to a 6-2 start in Pac-12 play, they have lost four of their last seven games.
Keys To The Game:
Limit Kelsey Plum
Washington’s superstar junior guard Kelsey Plum is the heart and soul of this Huskies team. She’s the second highest scoring player in the nation with just under 27 points per game and broke the record of fastest player in the Pac-12 to reach 2,000 points, doing so in only 88 games. Plum is a threat everywhere on the court, so the Sun Devils are going to make sure that they stay active on defense and while its foolish to think you’ll be able to shut her down entirely, ASU will need to limit her to as little as they possibly can.
Plum is an amazing scorer, but what makes this team so dangerous is that they have the ability to score from all five positions in the starting lineup. They are third in the Pac-12 in points per game averaging just over 72, and feature players like Chantel Osahor and Talia Walton to help compliment Plum. ASU, who is coming off of an impressive defensive performance against Washington State, is going to have to make sure that spark carries over to Sunday’s game.
Much like this ASU team, Washington has a veteran squad, with each player in their starting five having played at least three years in the program. This could make a big impact if it becomes close late in the game. ASU’s experience has been a major factor in carrying them out of close games victorious as of late. While the solution for this seems simple-don’t let it become a close game-it may be easier said than done, as this is a very talented Washington team.
Elisha Davis, ASU’s senior point guard, has seen it all in her four years. Her defensive presence is going to be vital as she will be responsible for keeping Plum in check. With Davis’s quick feet and overly active hands, I think she will be able to get the job done and will at least hold Plum below her average.
While it may get close, I think the Sun Devils will be able to pull it out in front of their home crowd, thus honoring their seniors with one final regular season win at home. While both of these teams are experienced and battle tested, ASU has the deeper rotation of the two, which this late in the season will be the difference maker.