Women's Hoops Claims Share of First Pac-10 Conference Title
March 10, 2001
TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State Sun Devils fell to Stanford 51-49 Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena but clinched a share of their first Pac-10 Conference title. The Sun Devils ended the regular season with a 20-10 overall record and a 12-6 conference mark which puts them into a three-way tie for first place for the Pac-10 Championship with Washington and Stanford.
'It feels really surreal right now. We lost the game, and then all of a sudden, we are Pac-10 champs,' Arizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. 'Disappointment is not my major emotion, I think it's pride. We had one goal all season and that was to win the Pac-10 Championship and we did it. Now we need to set one more goal. There's another championship out there.'
For Arizona State, it is the first Pac-10 Championship in school history in men's or women's basketball, while it is the 10th in 15 years for Stanford. Washington lost at UCLA 81-56 Saturday for their sixth conference loss. The Sun Devils finish with the school's most overall wins since 1991-92, while the team had never finished higher than fourth in the Pac-10 prior to this season. It marks the second time that Stanford has shared the Pac-10 title, tying with Washington in 1989-90, while the Cardinal won undisputed titles in 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998.
Arizona State led 24-23 at the half with no team holding a lead of more than three points. Both team struggled from the field in the first half with Stanford shooting just 37 percent (10-of-27) and ASU checking in at 35 percent (9-of-25). Junior Melody Johnson turned in eight points and three rebounds in the first half, while Stanford junior Lindsey Yamasaki had nine points.
Arizona State opened the second half on a 5-0 run to take their largest lead of the ball game, 29-23, with 17:44 to play. Stanford then responded with a 9-3 run which included seven points by Phoenix native and freshman Nicole Powell to tie the game at 34 with 13:05 left. Stanford did not trail again. Powell hit a three-pointer with 3:20 left to put Stanford up 48-43. ASU junior Amanda Levens, who has set ASU's single-season mark for three-pointers with 59 so far this season, knocked down a trey to cut the lead to two with 1:57, but Stanford junior Bethany Donaphin answered with a basket 21 seconds later.
The Sun Devils cut the lead to one again when senior Natalie Tucker drilled a three-pointer with 1:19 to play but would not score again. Levens put up a three-pointer that missed with 10 seconds to play, but Powell got the rebound and was fouled. She knocked down one of two free throw attempts with 7.1 seconds to play, and another Levens long-range shot was off the mark to keep ASU from capturing the outright conference title.
Powell finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds, her ninth double-double of the season, while Johnson led the Sun Devils with 15 points and six rebounds. Tucker had 10 points for the Sun Devils, including a pair of three-pointers, and four assists. Donaphin was the only other Stanford player in double figures with 10 points including eight in the second half.
'We have a great league,' Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said. 'The parity in the league has been really good and has brought out a lot of excitement. I want to compliment Charli. I know it's her birthday, and I told we were sorry we couldn't give you a birthday present, but she's done a great job with the program. We need people like Charli in coaching. She's a good person.'
Arizona State now awaits a postseason invitation with the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Sunday at 3 p.m. on ESPN. The Sun Devils will gather at head coach Charli Turner Thorne's house to view the selection show. An NCAA Tournament bid will be the first for the Sun Devils since 1991-92.
'We have a lot of mixed emotions,' Levens said. 'We have a lot of mixed emotions right now. We've been working on this for six or seven months, but it hasn't set in though. I think tomorrow we'll wake up and feel better. I think we'll have the same attitude during the tournament: anyone, any time, anywhere. I think we're ready.'