Because of aggressive defense Thursday night, the Arizona State women’s basketball team was able to hold a lead at halftime over Oregon State despite shooting just 22 percent.
The swarming defense, which has the Sun Devils ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 allowing 51.1 points per game, will be crucial again when ASU hosts Oregon at Wells Fargo Arena today.
The Ducks feature one of the most difficult matchup problems in the Pac-10 in the form of forward Catherine Kraayesveld.
The 6-foot-4 senior is back in the Ducks’ lineup after missing all but the first five games of last season with a torn ACL in a knee.
Though she can go inside and post up, she is likely to stay around the perimeter, giving her a size mismatch on virtually any defender.
"She’s a real key," ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "She’s definitely more in the perimeter but equally comfortable inside and out, just an outstanding player. It’s going to be a key matchup for us."
The Ducks will likely run a mix of zone and man-to-man defense, like Oregon State, which ran man-to-man and two types of zone against ASU.
Forward Kristen Kovesdy said the Sun Devils are ready for Oregon to throw just about anything at them today.
"They’ll run some man, they’re probably going to play some zone and they’ll press a little bit," Kovesdy said. "They’re a very aggressive team, they’re very physical. It will be a physical game inside, I know that."
Oregon has played the last two games — and will play the rest of the season — without junior guard Chelsea Wagner, who was the team’s top 3-point shooter.
She was shooting 40 percent from behind the 3-point line this season before going down with a torn ACL on Jan. 13.
The jury is still out on how Wagner’s injury will affect Oregon long term. The Ducks throttled Washington State — currently 10th in the Pac-10 — without her and lost 69-60 to Arizona in Tucson on Thursday.
"They’re really deep and their young players are playing well for them," Turner Thorne said.
"I’m sure they miss her. Time might tell on that. They gave UA all they wanted down in Tucson, so I don’t think it affected them too much."
Oregon at ASU women
When: 2 p.m. today
Where: Wells Fargo Arena
TV: Fox Sports Net Arizona
Radio: NBC (1190 AM)
Records: Oregon 12-5, 5-3 Pac-10; ASU 13-5, 5-3