TOLEDO, OHIO - With their win over the Vanderbilt Commodores, the Arizona State Sun Devils (23-9) have been given a pretty daunting task. To take down one of the two undefeated teams, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (33-0).
"Notre Dame is a great team and if we limit our errors we’ll have a great chance during the game," said junior, Promise Amukamara. "They have great offensive players, but we’re a great defensive team. If we just play our defensive system and do what we’re capable of doing, we’ll be fine."
The Sun Devils rolled through their opening opponent, Vanderbilt 69-61, led by Katie Hempen and Sophie Brunner combined to score 30 points off the bench for Arizona State. Hempen hit five three-pointers, while Brunner was a monster down low, grabbing nine rebounds in just 22 game minutes.
If the Sun Devils will have a chance at upsetting the Fighting Irish, they'll have to slow down the tempo and limit Notre Dame to just one shot at a time, while at the same time running their offense.
"If we can limit their easy looks, take away their transition, take away their second shots, don't put them on the free throw line - that takes away about 30-35 points," Arizona State head coach, Charli Turner Thorne said. "Now you may be in position to beat them."
It won't be easy as the Fighting Irish produce the best field goal percentage, 51.4 percent, and the Sun Devils allow 43.8 percent for their opponents, 313rd in the nation.
"When you're playing a team that wants a high-possession game and they're favored, do you play the crawl ball?" Arizona State head coach, Turner Thorne said. "I've definitely done that before. With our team, I think with Notre Dame, you've got to be aggressive and you've got to take the good look when you get it. I don't think we can come down and hold the ball and then expect to get a good shot."
The Fighting Irish and Arizona State have met three times in their school's histories. Both teams split the first two games, winning in blow outs. Arizona State won 82-57 in 1983 and Notre dame 81-52 in 2002. The Sun Devils got the best of the Fighting Irish in the 2005 NCAA Tournament, winning the second round game 70-61, coming back from 13 points down to advance to the Sweet 16.
"We're thinking of shooting about 80 percent," Turner Thorne joked. "We feel like that will do it."
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