First-place Sun Devils to Take on No. 22/21 Oregon Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena
Feb. 2, 2001
TEMPE, Ariz. - Standing alone in first place in the Pac-10 Conference and on a five-game winning streak, the Arizona State Sun Devils end their three-game homestand with a showdown with the No. 22/21 Oregon Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena. Winners of their last five games and six of their last seven, the Sun Devils matched their wins total from all of last year (14) with Thursday night's 58-51 victory over Oregon State. The Sun Devils bring a 14-6 overall record into Saturday night's game and hold a 6-2 mark in the Pac-10 which puts them into sole possession of first place in the conference, one win ahead of Oregon, Arizona and Washington. ASU looks to win its sixth consecutive game, something the team has not done since the 1991-92 season, while its next victory will mark the most victories since the 1992-93 Sun Devils went 17-10 on the year as well as match the team's seven Pac-10 wins from one season ago. The Sun Devils also aim to snap an 11-game losing streak against the Oregon Ducks and upset their second ranked team of the season after downing the No. 23/25 Arizona Wildcats 67-57 last week at Wells Fargo Arena.
Probable Starters '00-01 Pos. Ht. Cl. PPG RPG NOTES#23 Betsy Boardman G/F 6-1 Fr. 10.5 4.1 T5th in Pac-10 at 2.0 steals per game#52 Cian Carvalho F 5-11 Jr. 7.1 5.1 8 rbs, 4 steals vs. Oregon State#35 Melody Johnson C 6-2 Jr. 14.0 6.9 14 pts, 9 rbs to lead team vs. OSU#4 Amanda Levens G 5-9 Jr. 14.3 3.3 2nd in Pac-10 in FT percentage (82.9)#33 Natalie Tucker G 5-9 Sr. 5.4 3.4* Team-high 6 assists at UCLA
Off the Bench '00-01 Pos. Ht. Cl. PPG RPG NOTES#3 Liz Paulson G 5-11 Sr. 0.6 0.6* Coming off major back surgery#11 Aubrey McFadyen G/F 6-1 Sr. 1.4 0.7 Nine points vs. South Florida#12 Brett Leonard G 5-5 So. 3.9 1.8* 9 pts on 3-of-4 shooting vs. OSU#13 Leah Combs F 6-2 Jr. 4.4 4.4 4 pts, 8 rbs vs. Oregon State#31 Jen Albert F 6-2 Fr. 0.6 0.4 4 points vs. Cal State Northridge#32 Rainy Crisp G 5-6 Jr. 2.7 1.9 Career-high 9 points vs. Arizona#34 Li'i Liu G/F 5-10 Fr. 0.3 0.7 Has team's highest vertical jump* assists per game
ExposureASU's flagship station XTRA 910 AM will broadcast the Oregon game to the Valley of the Sun with Vince Marotta calling the action. The broadcast is also available via the ASU official athletics web site (www.thesundevils.com). Cox Communications (Channel 9) will broadcast the contest to a local cable audience with George Allen and Fat Lever calling the action. ASU is 4-1 when playing on television this year. Over the last two seasons, the Sun Devils are a perfect 9-0 when appearing on Cox Communications including Thursday night's 58-51 victory over Oregon State.
In the RankingsArizona State continues to garner attention in the national polls, receiving 22 votes to rank 30th in the Jan. 29 Associated Press poll. Oregon is ranked 22nd by AP and 22nd by the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll. Previously this season, the Sun Devils made an appearance in the Nov. 27 Associated Press poll, earning nine votes to tie for 39th but dropped from the ranks of vote getters after falling to UCSB Dec. 3.
Arizona State has faced four ranked opponents this season and earned its first victory with Saturday's 67-57 victory over the No. 23/25 Arizona Wildcats. Prior to that, the team's last upset over a ranked opponent was a 77-76 win over then undefeated and No. 7 Washington at Wells Fargo Arena on Jan. 8, 1998. Before its win over the Wildcats, ASU had come up short in three contests with ranked teams this year, including a pair of losses under five points, falling to then No. 22 North Carolina State 54-51 Nov. 26 in the Rainbow Wahine Classic and to then No. 2 Tennessee 67-63 Dec. 27 in the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic.
As a team, Arizona State has been ranked a total of 34 weeks in the team's history. ASU's last ranking came on March 1, 1992 when the Sun Devils were ranked 25th by the Associated Press, but the team fell out of the polls the following week. The Sun Devils spent most of the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons ranked in the national polls, climbing as high as ninth in the middle of the 1982-83 campaign.
In the Conference RaceThis marks the first time in school history that the Sun Devils have been in first place in the Pac-10 Conference at this point in the season. The highest the team had been ranked previously at this point in league play was second on Feb. 1, 1993, after the Sun Devils reeled off five consecutive Pac-10 wins to improve to 5-2 in the league. In 1991-92 and 1992-93, their two best seasons since joining the Pac-10, the Sun Devils were fifth (3-5) and third (5-3) in the Pac-10 through eight games, respectively.
Arizona State has never won a Pac-10 Conference title in its 14-year existence, while the team's best finish in the Pac-10 was a tie for fourth in 1993 with a 10-8 record. The Sun Devils' most Pac-10 victories came in 1991-92 when the team notched an 11-7 record and a fifth-place finish en route to 20-9 overall mark and an NCAA Tournament bid. ASU finished third on two occasions while a member of the Western Collegiate Athletic Association (1981-82 and 1982-83), while its highest conference finish ever was a second-place showing in the Pacific West Conference in 1985-86.
Last Time OutJunior Melody Johnson had 14 points and nine rebounds as the Sun Devils won their fifth straight game with a 58-51 victory over Oregon State Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena.
Arizona State streaked out to an early 16-6 lead and held a 29-22 advantage at halftime, outshooting the Beavers 41.4 to 27.3 percent in the first 20 minutes. The Sun Devils jumped ahead 27-14 with 4:01 to play in the half, but the Beavers finished the half on an 8-2 run. For the Sun Devils, freshman Betsy Boardman, a native of Portland, Ore., and junior Amanda Levens each had eight points in the first half. In the second half, Oregon State narrowed the lead to six points on three separate occasions and got within four points, 50-46, with 2:59 to play after forcing three straight Arizona State turnovers. Levens' layup with 2:27 remaining in the game put the Sun Devils up by six, while ASU hit 6-of-10 free throws down the stretch to earn the 58-51 victory.
Johnson paced the ASU squad with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Levens finished with 13 points and a team-best four assists for the Sun Devils. Juniors Cian Carvalho and Leah Combs each added eight rebounds, while Carvalho also chipped in with a career-best four steals. Oregon State senior Syesha Thomas led the game with 17 points, while freshman Hollye Holbrook added 10 points. Junior Felicia Ragland, the Beavers' leading scorer, was held to just nine points on 3-of-13 shooting but chipped in with nine rebounds, six assists and four steals. As a team, ASU outshot OSU from the field 40.4 to 31.8 percent and outrebounded the Beavers by a 45-37 margin.
The Current StreakArizona State's current five-game Pac-10 winning streak is the first for the team since 1992-93. ASU has not won six consecutive games since the 1991-92 team defeated six straight Pac-10 opponents that February (Feb. 8 to Feb. 29). That team, which was the last Sun Devil squad to make an NCAA Tournament appearance, also turned in ASU's longest winning streak, opening the season with nine straight wins. Here are some reasons for Arizona State's success over the last five games:
- ASU has scored an average of 70.4 points per game and held its opponents to just 61.0 points per contest.
- The Sun Devils have shot 45.1 percent from the field (124-275).
- The team has averaged 38.8 rebounds per game, while its opponents have managed just 31.8 boards per game in that stretch.
First and Facts About This SeasonSo far this season, the Sun Devils have accomplished a number of things that the team has not done in at least seven years:
* ASU earned its first victory over Arizona in seven years, snapping a 14-game losing streak with its 67-57 win on Jan. 27.
* With wins at UCLA and USC, Arizona State completed its first Pac-10 Conference road sweep since 1992-93 and notched its first sweep over the Los Angeles schools since the 1981-82 season and the first ever on the road.
* ASU's win at UCLA snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Bruins and marked the team's first victory at Pauley Pavilion since 1991-92, while the Sun Devils' victory at Cal also marked the first for the team since that same season.
* ASU has won games at Cal, USC and UCLA in a single season for the first time in school history.
Bench ProductionArizona State's bench has averaged 20.8 points over the last five games (23 vs. WSU. 32 at UCLA, 18 at USC, 18 vs. Arizona, 13 vs. Oregon State), led by junior forward Cian Carvalho who has started the last two games. Carvalho has averaged 10.2 points and 5.2 rebounds over the last six games including a career-high 16 points to lead the team at UCLA on Jan. 18, the third consecutive game that she notched a career scoring best. Also providing sparks off the bench are sophomore guard Brett Leonard and junior guard Rainy Crisp. Leonard has averaged 7.6 points per game over the last five games (up from her season average of 3.9 ppg) with a career-high 12 on 4-of-7 shooting at UCLA and nine points vs. Oregon State, while Crisp has scored 4.0 points per game over the last five with seven points at USC on Jan. 20 and a career-best nine vs. the Wildcats on Saturday night.
About #22/21 OregonAfter opening Pac-10 play with four straight wins, the Ducks stumbled slightly (with a couple of key players out with injuries), falling at Washington State 67-64 on Jan. 20 and at home to USC 55-53 on Jan. 25. UO snapped the brief losing spell with a 54-43 victory over UCLA on Jan. 27 but lost to the Arizona Wildcats 88-76 Thursday night in Tucson. Oregon brings a 12-6 overall record and a 5-3 league mark into Saturday's gamel. Senior forward Angelina Wolvert leads the team in scoring at 12.8 points per game, including 18 in the Ducks' loss to Arizona, while junior guard Jamie Craighead is averaging 11.1 points per game (a team-high 21 vs. the Wildcats) and leads the Pac-10 in three-point shooting, knocking down 46.7 percentage of her attempts from beyond the arc (50-107), including 7-of-12 in Tucson. Senior Jenny Mowe is the team's best rebounder, averaging 5.7 boards per game which is good for 14th in the Pac-10. As a team, the Ducks lead the Pac-10 in scoring defense (59.7), field goal percentage (46.8), field goal percentage defense (38.0) and three-point defense (28.6).
In the SeriesOregon leads the series with the Sun Devils with a 24-8 advantage dating back to the 1980-81 season. The only Pac-10 school that head coach Charli Turner Thorne has not yet led her team to a victory over in her four-plus seasons at ASU, the Ducks have won the last 11 games in the series including a 66-55 win in Eugene on Feb. 6 and a 67-56 victory in Tempe on March 2. Arizona State's last victory over Oregon came on Jan. 28, 1995 in a 79-77 decision in Tempe.
Oregon ConnectionsThe Sun Devil roster features two players who hail from the state of Oregon in senior Liz Paulson (Lake Oswego) and freshman Betsy Boardman (Portland). A 1996 graduate of Lakeridge High School, Paulson led the Beaver State in scoring as a junior at 21.6 points per game. She arrived at ASU last year after spending two years at Pepperdine University (redshirting one) and one at Central Florida Community College. Boardman came to ASU from Beaverton High School where she was an honorable-mention high school All-American in each of the last three seasons and runner-up for Oregon Player of the Year following her senior season. In 2000, Boardman led her Beavers to the school's first Metro League championship and was selected as the league's MVP.
Keeping 'Em Off the ScoreboardArizona State leads the Pac-10 Conference and among the best in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 58.8 points per game so far this season. In the last three games, the Sun Devils' opponents have managed just 55.7 points per game, including just 51 by Oregon State on Thursday night.
ASU has held six opponents to 50 points or less this season including 47 by Cal on Jan. 6, while four of those teams have managed 45 points or less (with a season-low 39 by South Florida). ASU held then No. 2 Tennessee to just 67 points, 16.4 points short of the Lady Vols' season average of 83.4, while Arizona scored just 57 points, 23.8 points lower than their conference-leading 80.8 points per contest.
Prior to ASU's 58-47 win at Cal, the last time ASU held a Pac-10 opponent under 50 points was in 1997-98 with a 69-49 win over Oregon State in Tempe, while 47 is the fewest points for a league opponent since defeating Oregon 79-42 in Tempe on Jan. 30, 1992. Prior to that, ASU had never held a Pac-10 opponent to less than 50 points on the road in the previous 14 years of conference play.
Taking Care of the BallArizona State is averaging a Pac-10 low 16.6 turnovers per game in 2000-01 which may not sound so good until you consider that the team had 20.5 turnovers per game last season. The Sun Devils turned in a season-low nine turnovers vs. La Salle and has had 16 or less giveaways in nine of the team's 20 games this year (including 13 each vs. Washington and Washington State). The Sun Devils have also won the turnover battle (having fewer turnovers than their opponents) in 17 of 20 games including a 24-21 advantage over then No. 2 Tennessee and a 20-11 edge at then No. 21/22 Stanford. Last year, the lowest turnover total for the team was 13 in their final game of the season in the WNIT vs. Colorado State.
The Sun Devils lead the Pac-10 in turnover margin, forcing 4.15 more turnovers than they commit per game. ASU is also third in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio at 0.84 (278 assists to 332 turnovers). Senior Natalie Tucker, who leads the team with an average of 3.4 assists per game (eighth in the Pac-10), is third in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.37).
Home-Court AdvantageWith a 8-3 home mark this year, the Sun Devils have turned in an 19-6 mark at home in the last two seasons including an 11-3 mark last year which ranked second on the ASU list for home victories in a season with the 11-1 mark of the 1981-82 team. Last year, the Sun Devils won their first eight home games of the season.
Notes From Beyond the ArcArizona State has knocked down 34.0 percent of its three-pointers (82-241), which is third-best in the conference. Junior Amanda Levens has met success on 39.8 percent of her attempts and is shooting better from three-point land than she is from the field (39.8 to 39.3 percent). Levens has a team-best 33 three-pointers on the season which is already 10th on ASU's single-season charts and just one short of a tie for eighth place (34). The 5-9 junior ranks fourth in the Pac-10 in three-point field goal percentage and sixth in three-pointers made (1.65 treys per game). Levens drained three treys of the team's eight treys in the team's wins at Hawaii and UCLA, which was one shy of the school single-game record of nine three-pointers made in a contest. Levens also knocked down a career-high 4-of-4 three-pointers in ASU's win over Washington State on Jan. 13.
Levens has drained at least one three-pointer in 16 games and more than one in 11 of those contests, while freshman Betsy Boardman has at least one trey in 13 games. Boardman also ranks eighth in the Pac-10 in three-point field goal percentage, draining 32.8 percent of her attempts (19-58).
Head Coach Charli Turner ThorneSince Charli Turner Thorne took over the reins 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 four 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 2000 Women's National Invitation Tournament. The Sun Devils' 73-56 win over La Salle in the first game of the ASU Holiday Classic on Dec. 1 marked the 90th win of head coach Charli Turner Thorne's coaching career and her 50th while at ASU. She has notched a 59-72 record in four-plus seasons at Arizona State and was 40-40 in her three seasons at Northern Arizona.
Notes From the Charity StripeSince shooting just 40.9 percent from the free throw line (9-22) in its season opener vs. Texas-San Antonio, ASU has shot 65.0 percent from the charity stripe since (307-472) ... The team turned in a season-high 80 percent (16-20) from the charity stripe at USC on Jan. 20 ... Junior Amanda Levens is shooting a team-best 82.9 percent from the free throw line (87-105) which is good for second in the Pac-10 ... UCLA's Michelle Greco leads the Pac-10 in that category at 88.7 percent but has attempted almost half as many free throws as Levens (47-53)... Levens' miss in the second half vs. Arizona ended a streak of 17 consecutive free throws (last three attempts vs. WSU, 4-4 at UCLA, 8-8 at USC, 2-3 vs. Arizona), while earlier this season, she had a streak of 16 consecutive free throws that ended in the Stanford game ... In the last 11 games, ASU has been to the free throw line 308 times (an average of 28.0 free throw attempts per game) and drained 64.3 percent of those attempts (198-308).
Super JuniorsAfter sitting out last season as Division I transfers, juniors Amanda Levens and Melody Johnson have made themselves right at home this season. The pair is 1-2 in scoring this season and has also been named all-tournament in both of ASU's tournaments this season (Asahi Rainbow Wahine Classic and ASU Holiday Classic)
Levens, a 5-9 guard who transferred from Old Dominion University, is pacing the ASU squad at 14.3 points per game and ranks sixth in the Pac-10 in that category. Levens has notched double figures in all but three of ASU's games this season. Johnson, a 6-2 guard from the University of Colorado, is second on the squad and seventh in the Pac-10 in scoring at 13.9 ppg and has scored in double figures in 18 of 20 games and had nine points in each of the other two. Levens, who was last week's Pac-10 Player of the Week, has hit a team-best 33 three-pointers, while Johnson, who earned the first conference player-of-the-week award this year, leads the Sun Devils in rebounding at 6.9 boards per game which is good for fifth in the Pac-10.
Welcome AdditionsArizona State's top four 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 14.3 points per game. Junior Melody Johnson, who transferred from the University of Colorado, is averaging 13.9 points and a team-best 6.9 rebounds, honorable-mention high school All-American Betsy Boardman is averaging 10.5 points and junior Cian Carvalho, a junior college transfer from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community is fourth on the team with 7.1 points per game and second with 5.1 rebounds per contest (which ranks 18th in the Pac-10). ASU's newcomers have been the leading scorers in each of ASU's 20 games this season, most recently with Carvalho scoring a career-high 16 points at UCLA (her first game as the team's lead, Levens turning in 15 points at USC and again vs. Arizona and Johnson scoring 14 vs. Oregon State.
More Attendance Records FallingWith 5,379 fans in attendance Jan. 27 vs. Arizona, the Sun Devils broke their single-game attendance record for Wells Fargo Arena. The team's overall single-game record is 16,782 set earlier this season vs. Tennessee at Bank One Ballpark, while the crowd for the Arizona game surpassed the 5,271 who attended last year's Arizona game on Feb. 26, 2000. ASU ranks 28th in the country this season, averaging 2,701 fans per game.
Three-Dot DataThree Sun Devils rank in the top 17 in the Pac-10 Conference in scoring (Amanda Levens-sixth, Melody Johnson-seventh, Betsy Boardman-17th), while Johnson and Cian Carvalho are among the top 20 rebounders in the conference (Johnson-fifth, Carvalho-18th) ... ASU's win at UCLA marked the 25th Pac-10 victory for Charli Turner Thorne, while her first conference win at ASU also came against UCLA, in Tempe in 1996-97 ... With a 99-112 career record, Turner Thorne is just one victory shy of hitting the century mark for career wins ... With a 14-6 record so far this season, the Sun Devils have notched double figures in wins in each of the last four seasons, something the program had not accomplished since 1989-1993 ... Last year, the Sun Devils turned in an 11-9 mark through 20 games but lost six of their last nine to end the year at 14-15 ... Senior Natalie Tucker has started 76 consecutive games, every game of her three-year career at ASU ... Tucker leads the team in assists for the third straight season at 3.4 assists per game, while the senior guard has 307 career assists (an average of 4.1 per game) which ranks eighth on the ASU career list ... she also ranks in ASU's top 10 charts for career three-pointers and free throw percentage ... ASU has overcome two half-time deficits for victories this season, both on the road (at Northern Arizona and at California) ... ASU is averaging 13.9 assists per game in 2000-01 with 12 of 13 players getting into the action ... ASU has held 12 teams to four three-pointers or less this season including three opponents with no treys.