Women's Basketball to Host ASU Holiday Classic Friday and Sunday

Nov. 30, 2000

TEMPE, Ariz. - Coming off their runner-up finish at the Asahi Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu last weekend, the Arizona State Sun Devils will play host to the 21st annual ASU Holiday Classic this weekend at Wells Fargo Arena. The host Sun Devils, looking to defend back-to-back tournament championships, will take on the La Salle Explorers in the first game of the tournament at 5 p.m. on Friday night, while the Kent State Golden Flashes (2-1) will play the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (1-3) at 7 p.m. in the nightcap. On Sunday, the consolation game will tip off at 1 p.m. and the championship game starts at 3 p.m.

Great Start

With a 4-0 start to the season, the Sun Devils won their first four games for the first time since 1991-92, while the team's 4-1 record matches the start of last year's squad and is the best since 1992-93 had the same mark through five games. Last year, ASU turned in the best start since 1991-92 with a 7-1 record, winning its first three games before falling at then No. 10 North Carolina then capturing four straight victories (including two in the 1999 Wells Fargo Classic) before losing to then No. 25 Texas in Austin on Dec. 21.

Probable Starters	'00-01		Pos.	Ht.	Cl.	PPG	RPG	NOTES#23	Betsy Boardman	G/F	6-1	Fr.	11.4	3.6	Avg. 16.5 points in last two games#13	Leah Combs	F	6-2	Jr.	2.8	4.8	9 rebounds vs. Stephen F. Austin#35	Melody Johnson	C	6-2	Jr.	14.4	8.2	Shooting 62 percent from the field#33	Natalie Tucker	G	5-9	Sr.	5.4	3.6*	Has started 61 straight games#4	Amanda Levens	G	5-9	Jr.	15.2	2.6	Career-best 28 points vs. SFA

Off the Bench '00-01 Pos. Ht. Cl. PPG RPG NOTES#3 Liz Paulson G 5-11 Sr. 0.0 1.8* Coming off major back surgery#11 Aubrey McFadyen G/F 6-1 Sr. 2.6 1.4 Played in 23 games last year#12 Brett Leonard G 5-5 So. 3.2 2.6* Hit first 2 treys of career vs. Hawaii#21 Sarah Allen G/F 6-1 So. 2.8 1.4 Scored 10 points vs. South Florida#31 Jen Albert F 6-2 Fr. 0.4 0.6 HM USA Today HS All-American#32 Rainy Crisp G 5-6 Jr. 1.0 2.4 Played in 22 games last year#34 Li'i Liu G/F 5-10 Fr. 0.0 1.0 Has team's highest vertical jump#52 Cian Carvalho F 5-11 Jr. 4.0 4.6 Third on the team in rebounding* assists per game

ASU Tournament History

The Sun Devils have compiled a 30-11 record in their own tournaments, reaching the championship game in 19 of 20 tournaments. ASU has captured the title in its own tournament 10 times and has won the ASU Holiday Classic in each of the last two seasons. Last year, the Sun Devils won their own tournament with an 85-67 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the first round and a 61-56 win over South Carolina in the championship game. ASU's Theresa Jantzen was named the tournament MVP, becoming the 12th Sun Devil to earn the tournament's highest honor, while teammate Rachel Holt joined her on the all-tournament team.

Last Time Out

The Sun Devils finished the Asahi Rainbow Wahine Classic with a 2-1 record falling to No. 22 North Carolina State 54-51 Sunday afternoon in the championship game.Three Sun Devils scored in double figures in ASU's first loss of the season. Freshman Betsy Boardman led the runner-up Sun Devils with 16 points, while junior Amanda Levens had 13 points and junior Melody Johnson scored 12 points and grabbed a team-high five rebounds. Levens also led the team with three assists. For NC State, tournament MVP Tynesha Lewis led the game with 17 points, while the Wolfpack's Adeola Olenrewaju had 12 rebounds.

Levens and Johnson were each named to the Rainbow Wahine Classic All-Tournament team. Arizona State kept the game close in the first half, despite being outshot 39.1 percent to 46.9 percent from the field in the first half. The 22nd-ranked Wolfpack held a 27-18 lead with 3:55 left in the first half, their largest of the stanza, but the Sun Devils got within one with 1:45 to play on the strength of a pair of free throws each by Levens and senior Natalie Tucker and a two baskets by Boardman. NC State then scored a pair of baskets of its own to hold a 31-26 halftime lead. For ASU, Boardman was 4-of-5 from the field and scored 10 points in the first half.

In the second half, the Sun Devils narrowed the gap to just two points on two occasions early, but the Wolfpack took advantage of a 13-2 run to take a 48-35 advantage with 11:00 to play in the game, their largest lead of the day. NC State led by 10 points with 4:27 to play (54-44), but the Sun Devils ended the game on a a 7-0 run to get within three points (54-51) when junior Leah Combs scored on a putback with 1:12 to play. ASU had an opportunity to score at the end but fell short to give NC State the 54-51 victory and the Rainbow Wahine Classic Championship.

Johnson Named Pac-10 Player of the Week

Junior Melody Johnson earned the first Pac-10 Conference Player of the Week honor of the season after averaging 17.0 points and 7.3 rebounds to lead ASU to a 2-1 record and its runner-up finish in the Rainbow Wahine Classic last week. Johnson turned in 16 points and eight rebounds in ASU's opening-round win over Stephen F. Austin, shooting 70 percent (7-10) in the game, and then recorded her first double-double as a Sun Devil with a career-best 23 points and tying a career-high 10 rebounds vs. Hawaii. In the championship game vs. No. 22 North Carolina State, Johnson led the team with 12 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots. The accolade marks the first for Johnson and the 18th all-time selection for ASU.

In the Polls

Arizona State made an appearance in this week's Associated Press poll, earning nine votes to tie for 39th. This season, ASU will face nine opponents ranked or receiving votes in one of the polls, including No. 2 Tennessee, No. 12 Oregon and No. 17/22 Stanford. Two other participants in the ASU Holiday Classic are also receiving votes in the national polls with UCSB getting 23 votes in the USA Today poll (34th) and three in the AP poll and Kent State with three votes in the AP poll.

About La Salle

La Salle brings a 2-1 record to Tempe after winning their first two games over Rider (81-53) and Drexel (84-74) before falling at Villanova 70-56 on Nov. 28. An experienced team which features five seniors and two juniors, the Explorers return all 10 letterwinners and five starters from last season's 12-17 team including senior power forward Shannon McDade who averaged 12.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in to lead the team in both categories in 1999-2000. This season, she is the team's top scorer (18.7 ppg) and second in rebounding (8.7 rpg) to junior forward Beth Hudak who has pulled down 9.3 rebounds per contest in the team's first three games. Senior co-captain guard Jen Zenszer is second on the team in scoring at 13.7 points per game and has hit seven three-pointers on the season.

Probable Starters '00-01

Pos. Ht. Cl. PPG RPG

#4 Chrissy Walker F 5-11 So. 2.7 4.3*

#24 Beth Hudak F 6-2 Jr. 7.3 9.3

#41 Shannon McDade C 6-1 Sr. 18.7 8.7

#3 Suzanne Keilty G 5-9 Jr. 4.3 0.7

#22 Jen Zenszer G 5-7 Sr. 13.7 5.7

* assists per game

In the Series

Friday's game with La Salle will mark the first meeting between the two teams, while the Sun Devils also hold a sterling 4-0 advantage over teams from the Atlantic-10 Conference including a 66-58 overtime victory over St. Joseph's to win the 1998 ASU Wells Fargo Classic. A first meeting with Kent State is also possible in ASU's second game, while the series with UC Santa Barbara is tied at 3-3 with victories by the Gauchos in the last two matchups.

A Look Ahead at Kent State and UCSB

ASU's second game in the Holiday Classic will match the Sun Devils up with a pair of conference champions and NCAA Tournament qualifiers from one season ago in Kent State and UC Santa Barbara. Kent State notched a 25-6 overall record and a 15-1 mark in the Mid-American Conference last year and is 2-1 this season after opening the season with victories over St. Bonaventure and Pittsburgh before falling at Indiana 79-42 on Nov. 28, the first of five games on the road. All five Golden Flash starters are averaging in double figures in scoring led by senior forward Liz Beggs at 16.3 points per game.

UC Santa Barbara has gotten off to a rough start with a 1-3 record, dropping its last three games at Nebraska 69-61, at USC 60-56 and to Arizona 71-63. Last year, UCSB won a school-record 30 games and captured its fourth straight Big West Conference title to advance to the NCAA Tournament. This season, the Gauchos are young with just two seniors after the loss of seven letterwinners and three starters but have four players averaging in double figures led by junior forward Kayte Christensen at 12.5 ppg. Senior center Nicole Greathouse is the team's top rebounder, coming in at 8.0 boards per game.

Welcome Additions

Four of Arizona State's top five scorers are making their debuts for the Sun Devils this season, led by junior Amanda Levens, a transfer from Old Dominion University who is averaging 15.2 points per game. Junior Melody Johnson, who transferred from the University of Colorado, is averaging 14.4 points and 8.2 rebounds, honorable-mention high school All-American Betsy Boardman is averaging 11.4 points and junior Cian Carvalho, a junior college transfer from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community is fifth on the team with 4.0 points per game.

ASU's newcomers have been the leading scorers in each of ASU's five games this season with Boardman leading the team vs. Texas-San Antonio (15 points) and North Carolina State (16), Levens vs. South Florida (14) and Stephen F. Austin (28) and Johnson vs. Hawaii (23).

Notes From Beyond the Arc

Arizona State has knocked down 34.9 percent of its three-pointers (22-63) in its first five games, led by sophomore Brett Leonard who has hit 4-of-6 attempts. Junior Amanda Levens has eight three-pointers on the season, including three of ASU's season-high eight treys vs. Hawaii which was one shy of the school single-game record of nine three-pointers made in a contest.

On the other hand, ASU's defense has been just as successful beyond the arc, allowing its opponents to shoot just 13.0 percent (3-23) this season. That trend is not completely out of the ordinary for the Sun Devils who have led the Pac-10 Conference in three-point field goal defense in each of the last two seasons including a 27.3 percent mark last season.

Three-Dot Data

Arizona State's 4-1 mark is the third-best overall record in the Pac-10 Conference, trailing just Oregon and Oregon State who have each opened the season with 3-0 marks ... Dating back to a 75-58 victory over Oregon State on March 4 of last year, the Sun Devils have won three straight games at Wells Fargo Arena ... Last year, the team won its first eight games in Tempe ... The Sun Devils have scored first in all five games this season ... The team has jumped out ahead of three teams by eight points or more in the opening minutes including a 10-0 run in the first 2:35 vs. Texas-San Antonio, a 10-2 run vs. Stephen F. Austin in the first 5:36 and a 10-0 run in the first 5:57 of the Hawaii game ... ASU's 67-61 victory at Hawaii in the second round of the Rainbow Wahine Classic marked the team's first road victory since defeating Washington State in Pullman, Wash., on Jan. 15 of last year, a span of eight consecutive road losses.

More Three-Dot Data

A win in the ASU Holiday Classic would mark head coach Charli Turner Thorne's 50th win at Arizona State and the 90th of the coach's career ... Turner Thorne brings a 49-67 mark at ASU and a 89-107 overall record into Friday's game with La Salle ... Arizona State is outscoring its opponents by an average of 15.4 points per game this year with the team's biggest win being a 35-point victory over South Florida (74-39) on Nov. 19 ... ASU's opponents are averaging just 47.8 points per game, while the Sun Devils have held all but one oppponent to 54 points or less (Hawaii with 61) ... two opponents have managed 40 points or less (UTSA with 40 and South Florida with 39) ... ASU is averaging 15.0 assists per game in 2000-01 with 12 of 13 players getting into the action ... Senior Natalie Tucker leads the team in assists for the third straight season at 3.6 assists per game.

Head Coach Charli Turner ThorneSince Charli Turner Thorne took over the reigns of the program in 1996-97, the Sun Devils have begun a steady climb back to the national prominence that the team enjoyed in the early 1990s. She has improved the team's wins total in her four seasons and guided ASU to three consecutive double-digit win seasons in as many years. In 1999-2000, Turner Thorne led the Sun Devils to a 14-14 regular-season record and a 7-11 mark in the Pac-10 Conference, both of which marked the school's most victories since 1992-93. Turner Thorne's Sun Devils also earned the team's first postseason appearance in eight seasons, falling to Colorado State 66-54 in Fort Collins, Colo., in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament

A Springboard for the Future

Arizona State's invitation to the Women's National Invitation Tournament last bodes well for the future. Of the 32 teams that advanced to the WNIT in 1998-99, seven earned NCAA Tournament bids in 2000 and nine advanced to the WNIT for a second season (a total of 16 teams in postseason play).

Tough Slate

This season, Arizona State will take on nine teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament or the Women's National Invitation Tournament last year including 2000 national runner-up Tennessee. Other NCAA qualifiers on the 2000-01 slate include Stephen F. Austin, North Carolina State, Arizona, Oregon, Stanford and UCLA, while USC and Hawaii advanced to the WNIT. The Sun Devils will also face at least one more NCAA participant in the ASU Holiday Classic in either Kent State or UC Santa Barbara.

Home-Court Advantage

The Sun Devils turned in an 11-3 mark at home last year, including six Pac-10 Conference victories, which ranks second on the ASU list for home victories in a season with the 11-1 mark of the 1981-82 team. The 1982-83 Sun Devils hold the school record for home wins with a 12-3 mark in Wells Fargo Arena, while ASU's 78.6 winning percentage at home ranks third in school history.

ASU Picked Fifth, Sixth in Preseason Pac-10 Polls

Arizona State was picked to finish fifth in the Pac-10 Conference by the league's coaches and sixth by the media in their preseason polls, the same spots they were picked last season.

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