Arizona Women's Basketball

No. 6 Arizona Wildcats goes for season split against rival ASU on Super Sunday

The Pac-12 started scheduling back-to-back regular-season games between Arizona and Arizona State in 2012-13 and the format has decidedly resulted in Sun Devil victories.

In the six times that consecutive games against Arizona State have been scheduled, Arizona has been swept four times and the teams split the other two.

The sixth-ranked Wildcats (17-4, 7-4 Pac-12) will try to make that three splits when the teams play each other Sunday at noon at McKale Center after the Sun Devils (12-8, 4-3) pulled off the 81-77 upset at Tempe on Friday.

The game will be televised by the Pac-12 Network and broadcast on KTUC (1400-AM).

Arizona was 2-10 against Arizona State in back-to-back games from 2012-13 to 2017-18. The teams have played apart with games in between in the last three seasons.

The Wildcats have won the second game in the back-to-back matchups only once, in 2013-14 season, and it was one of the most significant upsets in the program’s history. After losing 60-36 to No. 11 ASU in Tempe, Arizona made a complete turnaround under Niya Butts five days later, beating the Sun Devils 68-49 at McKale Center.

Carissa Crutchfield (20 points) and Erica Barnes (14) helped improve the Wildcats to 5-18 while ASU became 20-4.

Adia Barnes is in her third consecutive-meeting set up with Charli Turner-Thorne and is 1-4 after Friday’s loss.

The teams split in 2016-17 and ASU pulled off the sweep in 2017-18 — Barnes’ first two seasons when the Wildcats were in the rebuilding process.

Barnes, who admitted she yelled at her players during an early timeout Friday, did not mince words after the game mentioning that ASU “from the get go, had way more intensity, a way better sense of urgency. …  I think they handed it to us.”

“In every statistical category, they were extremely above their average, and I think we never responded,” Barnes added. “Things that we’re usually pretty good at we were not good at today, and we lost. We deserved to lose.”

Saturday’s workout at McKale ahead of Sunday’s early tipoff was likely intense. Barnes hinted lineup or rotation changes could be made.

“We’re gonna rebound (from Friday’s loss),” Barnes said. “We aren’t gonna play like this. You won’t see the same stats from who’s gonna play on the floor, and if that means we’re gonna play different people then we are, because this is unacceptable. … If we’re gonna lose, it’s gonna be a different way. It won’t just be laying down.”

Barnes never lost in eight games against Arizona State when she played at Arizona from 1994-98. The Wildcats beat the Sun Devils by an average of 14.5 points in that span.

Since she became coach at her alma mater five years ago, Arizona is 5-7 against ASU. A three-game winning streak against the Sun Devils was snapped by a 66-64 overtime loss in Tempe on Feb. 28 last year. Arizona made it to the Final Four a month later.

Barnes is 9-7 as a player and coach against Turner-Thorne, who is in her 25th season with the Sun Devils. Turner-Thorne started coaching at ASU in 1996-97, when Barnes was a junior in Joan Bonvicini’s program.

The Sun Devils lead the overall series 66-37 largely because of a 26-4 run under Turner-Thorne from 2004 to 2018 and a 17-game winning streak from 1978-86. When Barnes last played ASU in 1998, Arizona was on a winning streak of 10 games against the Sun Devils that would reach 14 games.

Turner-Thorne said her team at McKale Center on Sunday will play in “possibly the toughest environment now in the Pac-12 with that crowd and everything they’ve got going.”

“They’ve got a lot of confidence there. It will be a fun challenge,” she said.

It will be interesting to note if Arizona reserve post player Ariyah Copeland will return after missing last week’s game against Oregon State and Friday’s loss at ASU after suffering from a migraine headache.


Arizona — Adia Barnes achieved her 100th win at Arizona last month in her sixth season at her alma mater. Her record is 106-70 (which is also her career mark). She is 86-30 since starting 20-40 in her first two seasons of rebuilding the program.

Arizona State — Charli Turner-Thorne is 488-288 in her 25th season at ASU and is 528-328 overall in 28 seasons including three years at NAU from 1994-96 when she was 40-40. She played for Tara VanDerveer at Stanford from 1984-88.


Cate Reese and Shaina Pellington have been consistent leaders on offense since Arizona started Pac-12 play. Reese ranks fourth in conference play at 17.0 points per game in Pac-12 play while Pellington is at sixth (16.1). In Friday’s loss at ASU, Pellington recorded the first 30-point game for a Wildcat this season while Reese added 18 points and eight rebounds and Sam Thomas 14 points.

— Arizona has consistently been proficient from 3-point range ranking second in the Pac-12 shooting 36.8 percent. Thomas is second in the conference shooting 46.9 percent from beyond the arc.

— Top reserve guard Helena Pueyo had an uncharacteristic two turnovers to go with her two assists in Frday’s loss (she also had only two points in 22 minutes). She still leads the Pac-12 with a 3.8 assist/turnover ratio. Thomas is third at

— ASU likes to play a pressuring style of defense like Arizona and the Sun Devils have two players who rank in the top 10 in steals in the Pac-12 — Jaddan Simmons eighth/1.7 steals per game) and Mael Gilles (10/1.68 steals per game).

— Gilles, a graduate transfer from Rutgers, is a 6-foot-1 active post player. She has a career-high 23 blocked shots this season.


Jade Loville, a 5-foot-11 wing who transferred from Boise State, has been ASU’s catalyst on offense this season averaging 17.1 points a game (ranking third in the Pac-12). Loville is the top scorer in conference games averaging 20.5 points. She had 27 points and eight rebounds in the win over Arizona on Friday.

— Gilles keeps ASU active on the offensive end ranking sixth in the Pac-12 with 2.5 offensive rebounds a game. She is averaging 7.8 rebounds overall, the third-best mark in the conference.

— The Sun Devils are tied for last in the Pac-12 in 3-point shooting percentage (30.6).

— Arizona no longer has the top scoring defense in the Pac-12 after allowing 81 to ASU on Friday. The Wildcats are now second allowing 56.9 points a game. Colorado now tops the league at 56.4.

— Thomas is the Pac-12’s active career leader in steals (250) and she is second in career blocked shots at Arizona with 191. Shawntinice Polk is the leader with 222. Thomas had only one steal and no blocked shots in Friday’s game.

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District

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