Rivalry games just mean more.
Arizona State, losing to Arizona by 39 (91-52) at home on Dec. 17 in the largest loss margin on the year, was looking to avenge that loss.
Arizona, still playing with a seven-player rotation, facing a completely different Sun Devils’ team than the team they beat in December, were still able to secure the regular season sweep and Territorial Cup Series point with a 63-52 victory.
“This was a really good win for us, ASU is, we knew coming in they were playing a lot better than they were a month ago,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said.
On sweeping Arizona State fifth-year senior forward Esmery Martinez said, “This game was really important for us we had to win because we have to win a couple more games to make the tournament.”
“It was really important so we came out ready to play and beat them,” she added.
While the three-point shot was the Sun Devils’ kryptonite the last time the two teams met, it was points in the paint in this matchup — 42 of Arizona’s 63 points came off of points in the paint, 21 of those points off of layups.
Despite Martinez suffering from a migraine, the Wildcats had a big game from her.
Martinez, the “Bang the Drum” player of the game, notched a double-double with 18 points and 15 rebounds. She also added two assists and two steals while committing just one foul.
Of the seven players suited up for the game, four scored in double digits. In addition to Martinez’s 18 points, Helena Pueyo and Breya Cunningham each had 11 and Courtney Blakely finished with 10.
“I thought I’d really have to play her a couple minutes and take her out I didn’t think she’d be ready to go because her head was hurting at the beginning of the game,” Barnes said. “Then she came out en fuego.”
In her 37 minutes of play, Pueyo went 5 of 9 from the floor, 1 of 2 from three point range, had six rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots and three steals.
Cunningham went 5 of 7 from the floor with two blocked shots and six rebounds.
Blakely went 5 of 9 from the floor and added three assists.
Barnes has been vocal about her team not committing unnecessary fouls and getting into foul trouble. It is something that the team is working on.
“We talked about like the whole week just be smart, just know when to foul, when not to foul and I think they did a pretty good job” Pueyo said.
Against the Sun Devils, the Wildcats were able to stay out of foul trouble with Cunningham and Isis Beh the only players with three fouls.
Par for the course in a rivalry game, things got a bit chippy. In the third quarter, a double technical was called against Blakely for Arizona and Jadda Simmons for Arizona State after a little scuffle around the Arizona State basket.
With 2.5 seconds left in the game and the Sun Devils down 14, Arizona State coach Natasha Adair channeled Steve Alford and called a timeout. The 8,210 in attendance were not happy and loudly let coach Adair know how they felt about the timeout.
Former Wildcat players Sam Thomas and Bendu Yeaney, held a Meet and Greet event on Saturday night and then attended the Arizona game on Sunday.
Arizona heads on the road facing UCLA on February 9 and USC on February 12.
Next home game is Feb. 16 at 8:00 PM against Washington State.