The Sun Devils welcomed the rookie coach into the rivalry by handing her Wildcats the second worst loss in the 33 year history of the Duel in the Desert. ASU (13-6, 5-2 Pac 10) dominated from start to finish en route to a 75-38 drubbing of Arizona (7-11, 0-7 Pac 10).
The only larger margin of victory on either side of the rivalry was in 1978-79 when ASU defeated Arizona 105-62 in Tucson.
ASU now has taken seven straight games against UA and nine of their last 11 meetings.
Being routed isn't something Arizona has been used to under Butts this season, the Cats lost by single digits to #8 Cal, #11 Stanford and the Los Angeles schools.
"I thought we did what we do and what we are capable of doing," said ASU Head Coach Charli Turner Thorne, "We didn't allow their posts to get going, which was a big challenge for our posts today. We need to build on this for our interior defense.
"In a rivalry game everybody is going to step up. We were focused; we had a week to prepare. They have played everybody tough," said ASU senior Briann January, "They ended games with one possession with the top teams in our conference, so we knew we couldn't take them lightly."
The Devils set the tone on both ends of the court right out of the starting gates. Briann January hit a three on ASU's opening possessions and Dymond Simon converted a fast break three point play to quickly put ASU up 6-0. Sybil Dosty and Danielle Orsillo added baskets and ASU once again started fast and had a 10-0 lead.
The Wildcats finally got on the board when Reiko Thomas came into the game and hit a layup with 13:01 left in the first half. The Cats cut the lead to 10-6, but that was as close as they would get. ASU then rattled off another 10-0 run to go up 20-6. Sybil Dosty had four points during the stretch and January and Simon each hit a three to take back control of the game. ASU led by as many as 19 in the first half but took a 29-12 lead into the locker room.
The Devils came out of the half and immediately buried the Wildcats. ASU used a 19-8 run in the first seven minutes of the second half to go up 48-20 with 13:52 left in the game.
"At halftime we weren't very happy with how we played," said Turner Thorne, "Even though they weren't scoring we were giving them good looks. The second half, our defense was better and that fueled our transition offense." ASU kept their foot on the gas the rest of the way and led by as many as 41 before winning by 37 for their fifth straight victory.
"The outcome of this game is very disappointing," said Arizona Head Coach Niya Butts, "We didn't do a good job of attacking them. We just weren't very aggressive. We just backed up and picked our dribble up, we have to do a better job of attacking.
"We just didn't step up to the plate, they were tough and aggressive and they dictated the game. It is not something we want to have happen but we have to step up to the plate and play for 40 minutes. We didn't fight back and lacked that push."
The Devils did a great job of limiting the Pac 10's leading scorer and double-double machine Ify Ibekwe. ASU limited the sophomore to 13 points and just six rebounds, well below her average and forced her to turn it over 8 times while shooting just 4-13.
"We really tried to not let her get comfortable, we denied her pretty well," said Turner Thorne, "The biggest thing is not letting her get anything off of the offensive glass and in transition. I don't think she got anything with that. We wore her down and made her work for her touches."
Butts credited ASU being able to shut down Ibekwe with her Wildcats not having another threat on the floor.
"I think they were pretty effective," said Butts, "They know she likes to go right and they jumped over her right hand. They could do that because we had no other threats on the floor.
"In the post we were keying her, her numbers are crazy," said Dosty, "The guards were guarding her a lot, it is team defense. Everyone did a great job."
The game meant extra to Dosty because she grew up in Tucson watching the Arizona women's basketball program. The senior was key for the Devils scoring 13 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and blocked four shots.
"Being from Arizona I know how big this game is. I'm from Tucson; I knew we were going to give it all that we had. This is a big game for all of us and we know what this rivalry means."
Dosty had been pressing in the last few games, but Turner Thorne said that her senior spent a lot of time preparing and getting ready for this game.
"Sybil saw herself pressing too much on offense," said Turner Thorne, "She did a better job of just slowing down today. She had a great week of practice and was having more fun. She didn't press as much."
As well as the posts played, ASU once again got great guard play from Dymond Simon and Briann January. Simon scored 19 points to lead all scorers and added six assists and four steals. January scored 16 and added seven assists. The duo combined to shoot 7-9 from three point land.
"ASU has really, really good guard play," said Butts, "Anytime you have good guard play and are good defenders that can score, it will make it a difficult situation if you don't match it, with physical and intensity.
"I am so comfortable with her," said January of playing with Simon, "I know when she has the ball I have to be moving and she will get me the ball and vice versa. We wanted to push the ball and we got transition points today."
The Devils now will head to the road to try and extend their five-game winning streak as they head to Washington next Thursday to take on the Huskies. Turner Thorne likes the momentum her team takes to the road and knows it was better to get their early struggles out of the way before the stretch run.
"We are playing some good basketball, you like to learn your lessons early and our team has really grown from that tough stretch we had early."
As for the Wildcats, they now take a 0-7 Pac 10 record into Washington, but more importantly for Niya Butts, it is about rebuilding respect in a storied rivalry.
"This outcome I don't expect ever and we will do anything we can to prevent this from happening again," said Butts.