Women's Hoops Downs Northern Arizona 61-56

Dec. 6, 2000

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Junior Melody Johnson narrowly missed her second double-double of the season with 15 points and nine rebounds as the Arizona State Sun Devil women's basketball team edged the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks 61-56 Wednesday night at NAU's Walkup Skydome.

Arizona State started out slowly, falling behind by five points at halftime. Northern Arizona ended the half with a 12-0 run over 4:28 to erase a 23-18 ASU lead and take a 30-25 advantage into the locker room. While the teams each had 18 rebounds at the break, the Lumberjacks outshot the Sun Devils 48.0 percent (12-25) to 31.0 percent (9-29) in the first half and held the team to its lowest first-half effort of the season.

'Under the circumstances, we'll take the win,' Arizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. 'We didn't expect this to be an easy game at all. Meg Sanders is a great coach, and this is a great team that is going to get some wins. We are happy to get a win. We have girls with finals tomorrow at 7:40 a.m. and we've had finals all week, so I think it was mental exhaustion in a lot of ways.'

In the second half, however, the Sun Devils quickly put themselves back into the game, using a 6-0 run including two layups by Johnson in the opening 2:09 of the second half to go ahead 31-30. There were three lead changes over the next two minutes until junior forward Bridjette Wickham turned in a layup to put the Lumberjacks up 34-33 with 15:50 left to play.

Arizona State regained the lead with 11:33 to play when freshman Betsy Boardman hit a three-pointer to put the team up 41-40. NAU went ahead 42-41 on another Wickham layup, but the Sun Devils took the lead for good when Levens knocked down a pair of free throws with 10:45 to play. NAU would get within one point with 4:18 to play, but the Sun Devils hung on for the 61-56 victory.

'I challenged my team at halftime,' Turner Thorne said. 'I give them a lot of credit for bearing down. I got a little fired out and sent them out early (for halftime warmups). This team has a lot of pride. I think we're going to get into a lot of games like this, and if we can show this kind of toughness and pride, that will be great.'

For the Sun Devils, Johnson narrowly missed her second double-double of the season with 15 points and nine rebounds, while junior Amanda Levens had 11 points and a team-high five assists. Arizona State had 11 steals in the game including seven in the second half.

For Northern Arizona, now 2-6 on the year, Wickham led the team with 14 points and 13 points in the game. Junior Anna Sturing had 12 points, while senior Kristi Harkey led the Lumberjacks with five assists.

Arizona State, now 6-2 on the season, takes 11 days off for finals before heading to Denver on Dec. 18. The Sun Devils will then return to Wells Fargo Arena for a Dec. 21 game with Cal State Northridge before taking on No. 2 Tennessee Dec. 27 at Bank One Ballpark in the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic.

All of Arizona State's games this season can be heard live on XTRA 910 AM or on the Internet at www.thesundevils.com.

- www.thesundevils.com -

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