Former T-Birds square off in ASU-UA Battles

Amukamara (left) and Gloyd
Amukamara (left) and Gloyd

  Two former Mesa Thunderbird women's basketball players faced off against one another in a two-game series on Jan. 8 and Jan. 10, 2015, between the #18 Arizona State Sun Devils and the University of Arizona Wildcats.

  Last year's NJCAA Division II national player of the year, Peace Amukamara (Jr. Guard-ASU) and 2012 NJCAA All-American Alli Gloyd (R-Sr. Forward-Arizona) met in last week's Territorial Cup Series between the two rival programs.

  Relying on tough defense and contributions from a solid core of sophomores, juniors, and seniors, Amukamara and her Sun Devil teammates handled everything the Wildcats threw at them Thursday night in Tucson. They dominated the Wildcats defensively, allowing just 14 first half points on 6-32 (18.8%) shooting. The Sun Devils out rebounded the host Wildcats 45-32 while scoring 44 points of their own in both halves, going on to win 88-41. Gloyd (Arizona) shot 3-3 from the field, finishing with seven points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes. Amukamara maximized her eight minutes of game time by scoring six points, shooting 2-4 from the field and going 2-4 from the free throw line.

  Saturday's contest started a little differently, with a more fiesty Wildcat team holding the Sun Devils scoreless for nearly seven minutes in the first half after being tied 2-2 early on. Their stingy defense caused ASU to miss seven of their first eight shots until the Sun Devils finally connected on back-to-back buckets around the 13 minute mark to go up 6-4. At halftime the Wildcats only trailed by three, 31-28 with their defense causing 10 ASU turnovers.

  Gloyd (Arizona) dominated the boards, pulling down nine rebounds, once again leading her team in that category for the second game in a row.

  Amukamara (ASU) contributed two points, two steals, three assists, and one rebound in her 16 minutes. At one point in the game she found herself guarding Gloyd on a defensive switch down low and battled relentlessly, keeping the ball out of the block on that possession.

  Although the Wildcats fought hard and had two players scoring in double figures while staying nearly even on the glass, it was not enough to beat the dominant Sun Devils who have a great combination of defenders, rebounders, shooters, scorers, and leadership on the floor. ASU (15-1, 4-0 Pac12) is currently ranked #18 nationally. The Wildcats (7-8, 0-4 Pac12) are looking for their first conference win as both teams travel to California next week.

  Gloyd, who is coming off a torn ACL last season, has started all 15 games for the Wildcats. She is shooting 40.3% from the field, averaging 5.1 points and is the second leading rebounder on her team at 6.1 a game while playing an average of 29 minutes.

  Amukamara has quickly settled into her role as a backup point guard and does very well for the talented and well-coached Sun Devils. She has played in all 16 games this season, averaging over 15 minutes and nearly three points a contest.

  Both Alli and Peace stand out on the floor as two of the better defensive players on their teams, an obvious carryover from their time spent at Mesa where they often drew the responsibility to guard the best players. They both led their Thunderbird teams to the NJCAA National Tournament in 2012 (Gloyd), 2013 and 2014 (Amukamara) finishing 5th, 2nd, and 1st. We wish them continued success at ASU and Arizona, especially as they both travel to California to take on #15 Stanford and Cal next week.

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