On Saturday, ASU was surprised by a quick little UC Riverside team that led by as much as 15 points.
Tonight, ASU fans and players must have felt like they were experiencing deja-vu as once again their opponent, this time Louisville, enjoyed a comfortable 15 point lead at one point of the game.
Much like how Saturday's match-up unfolded, ASU used their athleticism to tire out their opponent and connecting on their shots to prove that as much as a lead is nice in the beginning or middle of a game, the only lead that is really important is the one at the end of 40 minutes of play.
"I have a new nickname for my team - The Comeback Kids," ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "I'm glad that we keep to keep this amazing experience going."
Somehow I think that Thorne calling this an amazing experience doesn't quite do justice to what was witnessed by the few, but faithful ASU fans here in LA. Instead, I think it may be better to chalk this weekend up as a miracle on Flower and Figueroa.
ASU started out tonight's game down. The Sun Devils were not just barely losing, but they were getting their plane tickets back to Tempe handed to them by the Louisville Cardinal mascot who was laughing at their sad 21 percent shooting from the field. Yet the Sun Devils never gave up. Instead, they dug in their heels and kept plugging away until they caught a break.
Tonight's break came not only with one of Louisville's stars, Angel McCoughtry, in foul trouble early and held to a mere seven points, but also late in the second half with 2:58 left in the game. This is when the Sun Devils broke through their second tied score of the game and went on a 11-2 scoring run that the Cardinal could not compete with.
Between the scoring run, wearing down the Cardinal with scrappy defense that included a full court press at time and more shot clock violations than in all of Saturday's games combined, ASU found a way to win and earning themselves the second golden airplane ticket of the night, this time to Greensboro next weekend.
Leading the way for the Sun Devils was Briann January with 22 points that included hitting a perfect 4-4 from the three point line when her team needed the points the most. Following her lead was teammate Emily Westerberg who finished with 12 points. While no Sun Devil finished with a double-double, there was a balanced attack on the boards as all but one player finished with at least one rebound.
ASU gets the headline tonight with the win, but Louisville showed tonight that they could have been flying to Greensboro next weekend very easily.
The Cardinal were physical, tough and played with the kind of heart that only an underdog can play with. Unfortunately though there could only be one team advancing and the nod goes to ASU.
Big numbers for Louisville came from Jazz Covington with the sole double-double of the game with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
As another team goes home happy and another one goes home empty handed, with some different teams making it to the Sweet 16 next weekend, the game and fans of women's basketball go home with the kind of joy that only March Madness can bring.