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When senior guard Jade Loville talked to coach Charli Turner Thorne about transferring to ASU last year, the two talked about one specific thing: culture.
“When I recruited her, she didn’t talk about minutes, she talked about culture,” Turner Thorne said. “That was impressive. We’re very selective, we take kids that we think will fit our culture.”
For the second year, the Sun Devils are locked in at the ninth seed of the Pac-12 tournament. However, this year, ASU will have Loville, who is dedicated to building the program.
“Coming [to Arizona State] was the best decision I’ve made,” Loville said. “Charli [Turner Thorne] has helped me develop my game in so many ways. She helps me so much with the defensive side, and I just can’t wait to come back and continue to grow my game with her.”
Loville left Boise State averaging 17.1 points per game, which led the Mountain West. Scoring was her entire game. This year, while she again led her team in scoring with 16.9 points per game, she embraced the team culture and became so much more.
“She’s had to learn how to play defense at a high level,” Turner Thorne said. “As much as we have benefited from her offense, she has benefited from growing into a complete player.”
Loville said she feels she can defend to a much higher level, and create offense for her teammates. Loville and senior guard Taya Hanson have been the two who’ve kept the offense churning.
“[Hanson] always finds me, Mael [Gilles] always finds me, Jaddan [Simmons] always finds me, everyone on the court,” Loville said. “We’re doing a really good job of finding each other.”
The team knows the tournament will be full of tough competition. While only two Pac-12 teams are currently ranked in the top-25, those two teams, Stanford and Arizona, were in the last NCAA tournament championship.
“I just want to stay poised, take what the defense gives me,” Loville said. “I’m going to be guarded pretty toughly, so I just need to stay patient, wait for the offense to come to me and hit open shots.”
In the only tournament the team played in this year, ASU went 1-2 in the Cancún Challenge.
“I think [we need] to come out swinging, we don’t have time to feel the game out,” Loville said. “It’s the Pac-12 tournament, everyone is bringing their best, everyone is going to be fired up.”
ASU’s first game comes against Oregon State. The Sun Devils beat the Beavers 67-57 on Feb. 4 in their only meeting of the year. Loville scored 33 points in that game, her second-highest scoring output of the season.
The big matchup of the game will be in the backcourts, as ASU will have to defend freshman guard Talia von Oelhoffen, who made all-conference honors. Von Oelhoffen has had four 20-point games and 17 double-digit scoring nights this season. In their last matchup, she scored 16 points and converted 2-for-6 from long distance.
“It’s a brand new season, it doesn’t matter what has happened until now,” Loville said. “We play Oregon State and we beat them the last time we played them, but we still have to lock in and do the little things.”
If ASU prevails, the team would then face Stanford, the defending NCAA champions and 1-seed in the Pac-12 tournament. In their only matchup, the Cardinal, led by Pac-12 Player of the Year Haley Jones and Pac-12 Coach of the Year Tara Vanderveer, won by 28. Loville was again the only Sun Devil in double figures, scoring 19 points.
Loville and the Sun Devils begin the tournament on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. MST.