No. 22 Women's Hoops to Tip Off Season Saturday Afternoon vs. St. Peter's

Nov. 12, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Fresh off their first ever Pac-10 Championship season and their first NCAA Tournament appearance in nine years, sixth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne and her 22nd-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils open the 2001-02 regular season with higher expectations than ever before. ASU tips off the year with three home games, starting with St. Peter's Saturday, Nov. 17 at 2:30 p.m. The match-up with the Peahens is the middle game in an ASU sports tripleheader on Nov. 17, which features the men's basketball team taking on Stephen F. Austin in its season opener at 11:30 a.m. and the volleyball team taking on Cal at 7:30 p.m. in its regular-season home finale.

With seven returning letterwinners, including four starters and three All-Pac-10 performers from one season ago, in addition to a crop of four talented freshmen, the Sun Devils look to improve upon the 2000-01 campaign which will go down in the history books as one of the best in school history. Arizona State finished last season with a 20-11 overall record and a school-record 12-6 mark in the Pac-10 en route to winning a share of the Sun Devils' first ever Pac-10 Championship and earning the school's first NCAA Tournament bid since 1992-93, facing 18th-ranked LSU in the first round.

ASU in Season OpenersThe Sun Devils are 19-7 all-time in season openers. ASU has won its last two and four of its last five openers including last year's 57-40 victory over Texas-San Antonio at Wells Fargo Arena on Nov. 18. Under head coach Charli Turner Thorne, ASU is 4-1 to begin the year. In home openers, ASU is 21-5 all time, having won six of the last seven and 14 of the last 16 games.

In the PollsArizona State is ranked 22nd in the preseason Associated Press poll, which marks the first time in 18 years that ASU has been ranked in the preseason AP poll dating back to a No. 16 listing in the 1983-84 preseason rankings. In addition to the AP poll, the Sun Devils have shown up in several of the preseason polls that have been released so far this season. Here is a look at where the Sun Devils are ranked by the preseason prognosticators:

	Basketball Times - 17th	Athlon's - 17th	Women's Basketball Journal - 17th	Lindy's - 24th	Associated Press - 22nd	USA Today/ESPN Coaches - 26th (two points out of Top 25)

ASU Picked Second, Fourth in Preseason Pac-10 PollsArizona State has been picked to finish second in the Pac-10 Conference by the media (with a pair of first-place votes) and fourth by the league's coaches. Last year, ASU was tabbed fifth by the coaches and sixth by the media in their preseason polls but surpassed all outside expectations by finishing in a tie for first with Stanford and Washington for ASU's first ever Pac-10 basketball title.

Tough SlateThis season, Arizona State will play 11 games against six teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament or the Women's National Invitation Tournament last year. NCAA qualifiers on the 2001-02 slate include Oregon, Stanford and Washington, while Loyola Marymount, Arizona and Oregon State advanced to the WNIT. The Sun Devils also have a chance to take on NCAA qualifier and Big East powerhouse Rutgers in the second round of the ASU Holiday Classic.

About St. Peter'sSt. Peter's returns two starters and seven letterwinners from last year's 17-11 team, which finished fourth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Peahens' leading returning scorer and rebounder is senior forward Felicia Harris who averaged 12.6 points and 6.7 rebounds last year, while the team will also gain the services of a pair of Division I transfers who sat out last season in Tanesha Seaton (Kentucky) and Kara Leslie (New Hampshire). Freshman guard Tyiana Sears led the team with 19 points and eight rebounds in its 78-57 exhibition win over the New York Gazelles, an AAU club team made up of former college players, on Nov. 7, while the Nov. 17 contest in Tempe is the regular-season opener for the Peaheans. St. Peter's head coach Mike Granelli is entering his 30th year at St. Peter's and is ranked ninth all-time among women's Division I coaches with a 553-214 career mark. Since 1981-82, the Peahens have captured 10 regular-season and eight postseason MAAC titles under Granelli.

Up NextFollowing their season opener with St. Peter's, the Sun Devils play two more home games in quick succession, taking on Delaware State on Monday, Nov. 19 and Loyola Marymount on Wednesday, Nov. 21. Both games tip off at 7 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils then take to the skies, heading to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the 2001 Paradise Jam. The Sun Devils will take on Western Michigan, Richmond and Kansas State while in St. Thomas. The trip marks ASU's first outside the 50 states since traveling to the San Juan Shootout in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1996-97, Charli Turner Thorne's first season at Arizona State. Last year, ASU left the contiguous United States for a successful trip to the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu, where the team finished second after falling to 22nd-ranked NC State 54-51 in the championship game.

Getting Off to a Good StartAs they tip off the season, the Sun Devils will be looking to match or better the great start of last year's team. Last season, the Sun Devils won their first four games for the first time since 1991-92. That 1991-92 team turned in the best start in school history, winning its first nine contests.

Exhibition ResultsArizona State breezed through its exhibition games with a pair of victories, downing Team Concept, an AAU club team of former college players, 67-53 on Nov. 4 and Delta Kosice (Slovakia) 77-48 on Nov. 9. Four Sun Devils scored in double figures in each game. Against Team Concept, seniors Melody Johnson and Amanda Levens led the way with 14 points each, while senior Cian Carvalho and sophomore Betsy Boardman each contributed 13 points.

Arizona State jumped ahead in the first half, shooting 38.2 percent to just 17.2 percent for Team Concept. The Sun Devils held their opponent scoreless for four minutes midway through the first half, building a 29-10 lead. Johnson and fellow senior Leah Combs each finished the period off with layups to give the Sun Devils a 37-15 halftime lead. Carvalho had 11 of her 13 points in the first half, hitting 3-of-5 shots from the field, including a three-pointer, and knocking down all four of her free throw attempts. Team Concept made a game of it in the second half, outshooting the Sun Devils 59.1 percent to 25 percent and getting within 12 points on three occasions. ASU hit all four of its free throws down the stretch, however, to come away with the 67-53 victory. Levens and Johnson each had 10 points in the second half to lead the Sun Devils.

In addition to her 13 points, Boardman led the Sun Devils with eight rebounds and six steals, while Levens and freshman Kylan Loney each had four assists in the contest. For Team Concept, Nicole Greathouse, a former UC Santa Barbara Gaucho, led the team with 10 points, while former Notre Dame standout Katryna Gaither had eight points and 10 rebounds.

In the second game, Johnson scored 22 points to lead ASU to a win over Delta Kosice. ASU took a 40-19 lead at halftime, outscoring the Slovakians 21-3 over the last 9:23 of the first half. Boardman had 11 points and seven rebounds in the first half, while Johnson scored 10 points.

In the second half, Delta Kosice got as close as 15 points, but Johnson had 12 points and the Sun Devils outshot their opponent 50 to 44.4 percent in the second half. A total of four Sun Devils scored in double figures in the exhibition win, led by Johnson who was 7-of-11 from the field. Levens had 14 points and tied Boardman for the team high with five assists, while Boardman finished the night with 13 points,eight rebounds and a pair of steals. Carvalho also turned in double figures with 12 points, while freshman Lauren Stagg also turned in a nice game for the Sun Devils with seven points, four assistants and a pair of steals.

Pac-10 Conference HonoreesThe Sun Devils return a trio of all-conference performers from one season ago, including senior center Melody Johnson and senior guard Amanda Levens who were named to the All-Pac-10 Conference first team, marking the first time in school history that ASU has had two players earn first-team accolades. Arizona was the only other school to have two first-team selections last year. Freshman guard/forward Betsy Boardman was named to the five-player Freshman All-Pac-10 squad, marking the third consecutive season that the Sun Devils have had a player named to the all-rookie team. In addition, three Sun Devils earned Academic All-Pac-10 honors with junior Leah Combs becoming ASU's first first-team selection since 1990.

Head coach Charli Turner Thorne was named the 2001 Pac-10 Conference Coach of the Year as selected by the league's coaches, ASU's first such honor, and was one of eight finalists for the 2001 Russell Athletic/WBCA Division I National Coach of the Year Award. As a finalist, Turner Thorne earned the distinction of WBCA District 8 Coach of the Year as selected by WBCA member coaches from that geographical region.

Pac-10 Postseason TournamentA new era starts as the Pac-10 begins its first annual Women's Basketball Tournament on March 1-4, 2002, at McArthur Court on the campus of the University of Oregon, in Eugene, Oregon. The league's Directors of Athletics and the Pac-10 Council approved the postseason tournament last fall. The Pac-10 postseason tournament will be a 10-team event which will be hosted by one of the Pac-10 members on its campus each year. A total of nine games will be played with the champion earning the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

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. That climb culminated in 2000-01 when Turner Thorne's Sun Devils captured ASU's first Pac-10 Championship, an NCAA berth, a return to the national rankings and the team's first 20-win season in nine years. The 2001 Pac-10 Coach of the Year and District 8 Regional Coach of the Year has improved the team's wins total in each of her five seasons and guided ASU to five consecutive double-digit win seasons in as many years. In 1999-00, 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.

Home-Court AdvantageWith a 12-3 home mark in 2000-01, ASU tied the school record for home victories at Wells Fargo Arena, while the team's 80.0 winning percentage in each of the last two seasons ranks second in school history behind the 91.7 percentage of the 1981-82 Sun Devils (11-1). The Sun Devils have turned in an 22-6 mark at home in the last two seasons.

First and Facts About The 2000-01 Season

* The Sun Devils won their first Pac-10 Conference title, clinching a three-way tie with Stanford and Washington, and earned the school's first NCAA Tournament bid since 1992. The Sun Devils had been picked to finish fifth and sixth in the preseason conference polls by the coaches and media, respectively.

* Arizona State won 20 games for the first time since 1991-92, including 12 at home which tied the school record.

* Arizona State cracked the national top 25 for the first time since 1991-92, was ranked in consecutive weeks for the first time since 1982-83 and finished in tie for 25th in the final Associated Press poll, the team's first ranking in the final poll of the year in 18 years.

* The Sun Devils won seven consecutive Pac-10 games (Jan. 11 to Feb. 8) for the first time in school history and turned in their longest overall winning streak since the 1991-92 squad opened the season with a school-record nine wins.

* ASU defeated USC and UCLA twice, marking the first season sweeps over those schools in school history. 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 1981-82 and the first ever on the road.

* ASU earned its first victory over Arizona in seven years, snapping a 14-game losing streak with its 67-57 win on Jan. 27, and then completed the first season sweep of the Wildcats since 1992-93 with a Feb. 24 win in Tucson, the team's first win at McKale Center in eight tries.

* ASU's win over the No. 22/21 Ducks on Feb. 3 ended an 11-game skid vs. Oregon.

* The Sun Devils upset three ranked opponents which they had not done in a single season since the 1991-92 NCAA Tournament-bound Sun Devils downed No. 17 Kansas, No. 21 Cal and No. 5 Stanford.

* 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.

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