TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- For college basketball players across the country, the 2019-20 season came to an abrupt end a little more than a week ago. So instead of enjoying March Madness this weekend, everyone is at home. And some Sun Devils are still in disbelief.
"A text message came through, that just said 'I'm so sorry. I feel so bad for your seniors,'" says Arizona State women's basketball coach Charli Turner Thorne. "And my heart just sank. I mean, I knew."
That's how Turner Thorne found out she had to tell her team there would be no NCAA Tournament, no March Madness. She would also have to tell her five seniors their careers were now over.
"In the text [to the team] I just said I had no words," says Turner Thorne. "Ja'Tavia Tapley had never been to the NCAA Tournament before. You know, our grad transfer."
Sun Devil senior Robbi Ryan says everyone was "definitely heartbroken. I'm just kind of still in disbelief, it doesn't seem real, you know. Because that's what teams work for basically the whole season, is the tournament."
ASU, led by those seniors, beat top three teams in the country in back-to-back games earlier this season. The team felt primed for a run in the big dance.
"We knew once we got healthy over that two week break, we could beat anybody," says Turner Thorne. "And I'm always going to think about what this team could've done."
Ryan adds, "I think we had a really high ceiling and a lot of potential. And so, I think that's what I'll remember most is probably just the potential we could've had in the tournament."
One of Turner Thorne's mottoes for her teams is 'Finish Everything, Finish Strong."
"And not just in basketball, but in life," she says. "You know, no one really cares how you start, they just care how you finish. You're defined by how you finish. We didn't get to finish."
The Arizona State seniors though, won 20 or more games every year in Tempe. They made college basketball history this season with the wins over the Oregon schools. And they can certainly still finish strong in life.
Turner Thorne calls it, "A tough reminder of just how - be grateful and take advantage of every second. There's some opportunities here for all of us to maybe have a little extra time to reflect and pause and you know, be better. Be better moving forward."