Lady Devils Seek Revenge in Bay Area

Only two teams in the Pac 10 have defeated the Arizona State Sun Devils (16-7, 10-2 Pac 10) this season. Back in January when the California Golden Bears (21-3, 12-1 Pac 10) and the Stanford Cardinal (22-3, 11-2 Pac 10) came into Wells Fargo Arena, Head Coach Charli Turner Thorne didn't quite know where her team was. Now she hopes that the Devils had found their identity.

Turner Thorne knows that they need to be on top of their game because their Pac 10 Championship hopes are riding on it.

"We've made adjustments since then. We struggled to score and we revamped some things and made adjustments," said Turner Thorne, "I don't know if we will fare any better, we made adjustments offensively and defensively for this week and the rest of the season."

"I don't think people are sure right now how we are going to play them. We have played some teams differently than we have in the past. I think that is a good thing, they have to prepare for a lot more. We have a lot of people that can come in the game and hurt you. We do have great depth and I'm excited for that to kick in down the stretch of the season."

The first time the Devils met the Bears, they fell behind 16-0 early, made a comeback to get back in the game before eventually falling 64-51. ASU was pounded inside as Cal forwards Devanei Hampton and Ashley Walker combined for 41 points and 16 rebounds. The Bears stingy defense took ASU out of its normal fast paced transition game. Stanford's defense did the same thing to the Devils after ASU took a 31-20 lead into halftime against the Cardinal.

"We struggled keeping our intensity for 40 minutes. We didn't put a complete 40 minutes together. I think we've been getting better at that over the past few games," said ASU guard Briann January, "It's all about sustaining that effort, not letting up at all, just working hard, that is what it is going to come down to."

"We didn't get it done. Now the challenge is even greater because we get them at (their) home. I don't think either team has lost there this year. It's going to be a great challenge for us," said Turner Thorne.

"Keys are obviously controlling the boards, which is huge. Basically kind of containing their inside games. Taking care of the ball, we haven't done a great job of that this season. We've been a little careless with the basketball, so we have to be working well together and defensively," said Turner Thorne, "We also have to shoot well, we have to get our field goal percentage goal, which is 45%. These teams just do a very, very good job of not letting you go down and just pound it inside and get shots in the paint. We are going to have to shoot well from the perimeter in both games."

Turner Thorne also sees the perimeter shooting of her guards as a key factor, because both Cal and Stanford do an excellent job of defending the post.

"That doesn't mean we don't want to establish an inside game, because I think that was a downfall of the Cal game, we shot a little too early and often on the perimeter. We have to get a little better ball movement, work it better and see what we can get."

"Both of these teams dare you to shoot from the perimeter. We're a team that likes to slice and dice and get to the rim and feed our posts. These teams are just very stingy and do a great job of not allowing teams to do that. There lays our struggle offensively," said Turner Thorne, "We have to shoot the ball well. If we have more than 12 or 13 turnovers, that means we are trying to do things that aren't there."

While Cal is new to the top of the Pac 10, Stanford is not. The Devils head into Maples trying to snap Stanford's undefeated season at home. Stanford's last undefeated at home since 2004-05. Currently, Stanford is 11-0 at home in 2007-08, and has won nine of those games by at least 20 points. Through last Saturday's win over UCLA, Stanford boasts an average margin of victory of 27.8 points in its home games this season. Turner Thorne doesn't believe in the mental factor of playing at Maples.

"I don't think it's psychological. They are just a Top 10 program. This is a newer team going in there. This will be interesting to see. We had some good tough road games in the preseason. But we didn't close out those games, but I think we learned a lot. It will be interesting to see. Sometimes this is a great thing."

It won't help that it is Senior Night at Maples and the last home game for All-American Candace Wiggins.

"It doesn't help. If I had my preference, no thank you. It should be an awesome environment. It'll be fun, nationally televised game," said Turner Thorne.

"She's an All-American. I remember when I was a senior in high school watching Pac-10 basketball and I'd always make sure to catch the Stanford game. I give her all the props, she works hard and get it done. I love to compete against her. We go head to head and that is what makes it fun," said January.

In order to win a Pac 10 title, the Devils must come away with two victories in the Bay, something that is never easy. ASU finds itself tied with Stanford for second place, just one game behind Cal.

"The Bay Area trip is always fun," said January, "We're fired up and ready to go."

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