(Photo: Brooke Faber/WCSN)
After finishing second place in the Hawaii Tournament, No. 17 Arizona State will look to start off on a good foot in the ASU Classic as it takes on VCU.
The Sun Devils (3-2) had an impressive showing in the Hawaii Tournament a week ago, nearly upsetting No. 2 South Carolina and defeating Hawaii and CSU Bakersfield to finish 2-1. ASU finished the tournament without two of its starters, Moos and Brunner, due to injuries.
VCU (5-1) has had a strong start of its own. The Rams are winners of their last three contests but will face their first ranked opponent this season when they travel to Tempe. They boast a +17.3 scoring margin this season and will look to continue that this weekend.
Keys to the Game:
VCU’s Defensive Pressure
The Rams are known for their presence on the defensive end of the court, forcing 11.0 steals per game so far this season. VCU has been smothering opposing offenses game in and game out this year, allowing them to garner a +6.7 turnover margin. ASU has had success on offense, scoring 64.2 points per game, so it will be important for VCU to try and assert its presence on defense from the opening whistle.
For one of the few times this year, the Sun Devils will be the taller team in this matchup. They’ve been out rebounded so far this year, but the tallest player on VCU’s roster is 6-foot-3 so it will be a prime opportunity for ASU’s taller players like Quinn Dornstauder and Charnea Johnson-Chapman to body up and dominate the boards.
After finishing third in the Pac-12 in total assists last season with 4.5 per game, Davis’ numbers have dropped to get the season started. The senior point guard is averaging just 2.8 assists per game this year, but it will be very important for her to take care of the ball and distribute it well in order for the Sun Devils to break through a tough VCU defense.
With the losses of Brunner and Moos, ASU loses some size from an already undersized lineup. Brunner’s post game is a huge part of the Sun Devils’ offense, so the X-factor in this game is ASU’s starting center Quinn Dornstauder. The 6-foot-4 Dornstauder has proven to be a dominant player when given the proper looks, and she’ll need to step up even more in the wake of injuries to Brunner and Moos.
ASU’s only two losses this season are in close games to No. 11 Kentucky and No. 2 South Carolina, so this team has played some of the top talent in the nation. VCU boasts an impressive record but have yet to truly be tested, so this could be a wakeup call for the Rams. In the end, ASU will break through VCU’s defense en route to a double-digit victory, advancing them to the final of the ASU Classic.