Lady Devils Heading Back to NCAA Tournament

The ASU Women's Basketball team is heading back to the big dance, for the fourth season in a row and the sixth out of the last eight. As the Devils gathered at Coach Charli Turner Thorne's house to find out their fate, they learned that they were awarded the 6th seed in the in the Oklahoma City Region and will face off with the 11th seed Temple Owls (21-12) on Easter Sunday at 6PM in Maryland.

"We've been waiting for about eight days now so it just feels like we will have more of a focus now," said senior Reagan Pariseau.

The Devils were elated to receive a six seed, the highest seed that Turner Thorne thought her team could achieve.

"I thought the six was as high as we'd get seeded," she said. "I'm really excited that we got that. I'm proud of my team that we earned this position. We are very fired up to take advantage of this opportunity."

"I think we finished strong, we played a great schedule and our RPI was good," said Turner Thorne as to the reasons ASU received a six seed, "If we had been healthier in the preseason and finished out a few games I think we would have been where we were last year. It really doesn't matter; we know why we were in that situation, now we are healthy and ready to go. Let's see what this team can do."

"Charli was telling us that we were going to be anywhere from a six to a ten, of course it is nice to get that six seed," said ASU Guard and Pac 10 Defensive Player of the Year Briann January.

The Devils didn't know too much about the Owls, but they realize that it will ultimately come down to them.

"I've seen them play on TV a few times," said ASU Senior Reagan Pariseau of the Owls, "Obviously a great team coached by Dawn Staley. We're just really excited and finally know who we are playing and where we are going. It feels good."

"I don't know really anything about Temple, I can't really comment on them yet, but it is going to come down to us," stated Turner Thorne, "It's going to come down to us rebounding, us being consistent with our defense and bringing it every possession. We're going to advance in the tournament, hopefully for a few weeks."

"They are a very good defensive team, holding teams to 56 points per game. They have balanced scoring and I expect a Dawn Staley team to be very tough, very feisty."

Temple finished the year 21-12 and 12-2 in the Atlantic 10, making them co-conference champions with George Washington. The Owls made the championship game of the Atlantic 10 tournament before losing to Xavier, who also made the field of 64.

The Owls are led in scoring by senior guard Ashley Morris who puts in 15.1 points per game. The Owls aren't a very strong team inside, something that bodes well for ASU. One advantage that Temple could have is that College Park is much closer to Philadelphia, where Temple is located, than it is to Tempe.

The Devils don't mind traveling out to College Park, somewhere they haven't been before.

"I think it will be fun. Travelling is fun, we've never been to College Park, we're excited," said Pariseau.

"That is why we travel. We travel to Cancun, we went to North Carolina. We always travel in the preseason and it won't be any big thing. We will certainly leave in time to get adjusted to Eastern Time," said Turner Thorne.

Turner Thorne had a feeling her team was heading east, after getting favorable destinations over the past few years.

"I was pretty sure we were going to head east, we stayed west for awhile and played that Saturday game."

Last season the Devils made a run to the Elite Eight before eventually falling to Rutgers. This year there are fewer expectations on the shoulders of Arizona State. Pariseau thinks not having so much pressure could turn out to be a good thing for the Devils.

"Not so much pressure. Last year there was a bit more pressure, we're the underdog for what we want to accomplish."

If the Devils get passed the Owls, their most likely matchup would be the third-seeded Duke Blue Devils.

"I called (Duke Head Coach) Joanne McCallie, sometimes I call a coaching colleague to see what they are doing with their two week break, she never called me back so maybe she knew more than I did," said Turner Thorne, "I'm sure she's just busy. I've never coached against Joanne. Duke is a very good team. There are no easy games from now on, so I don't think it matters."

"Duke is a great team, new coach this year, but they have a lot of great talent there, but we're focused on Temple first," said Pariseau.

The Pac 10 only received three bids, with Stanford and California joining the Sun Devils. Stanford is a two seed, while Cal received a three seed.

"It has been awhile since we have only gotten three teams in. If USC stays healthy the whole year they are in. We should have been at least a four team league if people stayed healthy," said Turner Throne.

For now the Devils will head off to Maryland and begin their second season at the Comcast Center Sunday night. It's a chance for ASU to prove what they really can do when they are healthy.

"Heading into the NCAA Tournament, it brings back that excitement. It's the start of a new season. We're ready to get after it," said January.

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