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ASU women to face Nebraska in first round of NCAA Tournament

Arizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne directs her team against Oregon State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Conference women's tournament, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State’s NCAA Tournament bid was cause for celebration for the men’s program. For the women, it’s ho-hum news.

ASU earned its fifth straight tournament bid when the brackets were announced on Monday evening. The five straight appearances tie a program record, previously set from 2005-2009, also under coach Charli Turner Thorne.

The No. 7 seed Sun Devils (21-12) will face No. 10 seed Nebraska (21-10) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Arizona time in Austin, Texas in the Kansas City Regional. If the Devils advance past the first round for a fifth straight season, they will face the winner of the No. 2 Texas-No. 15 Maine game in the second round.

ASU was one of six Pac-12 teams to earn bids, along with Oregon, UCLA, Oregon State, Stanford and California. The Sun Devils went 4-10 in quad 1 games and 17-2 in quad 2-3-4 games.

ASU lost three key seniors off last season’s team — Kelsey Moos, Sophie Brunner and Quinn Dornstauder — leading Turner Thorne to call this a transition season, but the Sun Devils earned a higher seed than last season and won one more game.

“We miss them greatly, but we practiced all summer without them,” sophomore guard Robbi Ryan said. “When they left, we realized it was time to step up. We don’t have those senior leaders and it’s been a growing and learning process for sure. We’re still not quite there yet but we’re getting better every day.”

ASU also had to overcome the loss of junior guard Sabrina Haines, who tore her ACL on Dec. 3 in a game against UC Riverside, and is out the rest of the season.

Turner Thorne called the Sun Devils’ win over No. 10 ranked Oregon State in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals a confidence boost for her team.

“Last year, we beat the people that we were supposed to beat,” Turner Thorne said. “That was a huge getting-over-the hump game.”

This is the Sun Devils’ 16th NCAA appearance. It is the first time since 2014 that both the men’s and women’s teams made the NCAA field.

Mississippi State is the No. 1 seed in the Kansas City Regional. The Bulldogs beat ASU 65-57 in the Cancun (Mexico) Challenge in November.

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