Florida or bust: Despite 2,000-mile journey, ASU women focused on NCAA Tournament

Charli Turner Thorne, who has led the Arizona State women’s basketball team to seven straight NCAA Tournament appearances, said she isn’t preoccupied by how far the Sun Devils had to travel. (File photo by Anya Magnuson/Cronkite News)

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Four teams were sent to the Coral Gables regional of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. Three reside in Florida. The lone non-Florida team is also the second-best seed in the tournament.

Some people are crying “foul” for Arizona State, which plays No. 12 Central Florida at 4 p.m. MST today.

“We’re very grateful,” Sun Devils coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “We’re good with the draw. But (my youngest son) was very fired up because he’s reading all the stuff. I’m not going to say what he said about the committee, because I had to clear him up on that and everything.”

Turner Thorne said the Sun Devils “don’t mind traveling” and “we’re just really excited to be here,” but television analysts have been critical of the tough draw. ASU (20-10) flew approximately 2,000 miles for the game. Its opponent, UCF (26-6), drove a little more than three hours to get to the site.

ASU guard Courtney Ekmark said the Sun Devils aren’t preoccupied by the distance. They feel confident about the game after facing a tough schedule of Pacific-12 Conference teams.

“I definitely think playing a tough conference schedule is going to help us,” she said. “We’ve played against the top teams in the nation. We’ve beaten some of them. I think that’s really going to carry us through this tournament.”

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