Lack of players forces ASU women’s basketball team to forfeit 2 Pac-12 games

The 2022-23 season has been a challenging one for ASU women’s basketball coach Natasha Adair and her staff. The team has to forfeit two Pac-12 games this weekend because of injuries and health issues. (Photo by Susan Wong/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Conference losses and injuries are stacking up for the Arizona State women’s basketball team – and this weekend the program will wave the white flag.

ASU announced Wednesday that the team will forfeit two road matchups against No. 10 Utah and Colorado because it does not have enough players available to compete. The games will not be made up, and the forfeits will be considered league victories for Utah and Colorado, according to a Pac-12 statement. Per NCAA policy, however, the overall records of the three teams will not be affected.

“We came to the conclusion after meeting with our doctors and medical staff we will not be making the trip to Utah and Colorado this weekend. We understand the games will be forfeited, but the reality is there was no decision to be made,” coach Natasha Adair said in a statement. “With few healthy scholarship players, time to heal is our only option. Our plan is to get our team healthy over the course of this week and be ready when we host Arizona Jan. 22.”

ASU (7-11 overall, 0-7 Pac-12) opened the season with five straight wins against non-conference opponents before its victory lap came to an abrupt end. The Sun Devils remain winless in seven games against Pac-12 opponents, and while sitting out this weekend, the team will focus on the Jan. 22 matchup against in-state rival Arizona in an effort to end the skid.

ASU had four participants in this week’s practice after multiple players were sidelined with myriad injuries. Although the matchups were canceled because of injuries, two players were battling illness, and a total of six were ruled out this week.

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The team had nine available players for Sunday’s loss against Oregon State, while five of the team’s 13 scholarship players were listed as unavailable. Pac-12 guidelines require ASU to have a minimum of seven scholarship players available to play.

“We feel terribly for our team that wants to compete, but due to the medical circumstances we are not able to. Admittedly this is a very unusual situation, one that requires us keeping the health of both injured and healthy players as the main focus,” ASU Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson said in a statement.

The Sun Devils hope to rally from their 0-7 conference record, but the latest injury bug has further compounded the team’s issues of fewer returning players this season and limited practice time at full strength. Entering the season, juniors Jaddan Simmons and Imogen Greenslade were the only returning players with significant playing time. Sophomore forward Meg Newman was sidelined for the entire 2021-22 season because of injuries and has returned this season to play a significant role.

Following a three-game road trip at the beginning of January, the Sun Devils suffered from fatigue and constant travel, and with the pile-up of injuries, it’s unknown when the team will return to full form. ASU will have a week to rest and recuperate before Arizona arrives in Tempe for the rivalry game.

If the Sun Devils fail to meet the requirements to resume the season against the Wildcats, they will be forced to forfeit a third game, and questions of why the team can’t stay healthy will remain unanswered.

Lauren Hertz LOHR-in hertz (she/her)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Lauren Hertz expects to graduate in May 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a minor in film and media production. Hertz has interned with PBS NewsHour West, AZCentral Sports and CBS New York.

Susan Wong soo-zin wah-ong (she/her/hers)
Sports Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Susan Wong expects to graduate in May 2023 with a master’s degree in mass communication. Wong, who earned a bachelor’s in sports journalism in May 2022, is a digital media intern with Sun Devil Athletics.