Levens Leads Devils Past N. Illinois

Dec. 15, 2001

DeKALB, IL---Amanda Levens scored a game-high 26 points in herhomecoming to lead Arizona State past Northern Illinois, 61-50, innon-conference women's basketball action here Saturday (Dec. 15).

Arizona State won its seventh game in a row, improving to 9-2 onthe season. Northern Illinois saw its own four-game winning streak cometo an end as the Huskies fell to 5-3 overall.

Levens, who grew up in nearby Belvidere, IL, tallied 18 of herpoints after the break as ASU pulled away to defend its No. 28 rankingin this week's Associated Press national poll. The Sun Devils---rated30th by the ESPN/USA Today voters---also got 11 points from MelodyJohnson. Jennifer Youngblood tallied 12 points and a game-high eightrebounds for Northern Illinois.

NIU raced out to an 18-4 lead, suffocating the Sun Devil attackfor the first seven minutes as six different Huskies scored in thatspan. But Levens canned a three-pointer---her first points of theafternoon---at the 10:00 mark, and added a free throw as Arizona Statescored ten unanswered points. A Rainy Crisp lay-up with 7:08 to play inthe half trimmed the deficit to 18-14 and Levens' rebound putback gavethe Sun Devils a 21-20 lead they never relinquished.

'I thought we had an opportunity today with a team like ArizonaState coming here, and early on I thought our team was ready to playbecause we executed well,' NIU coach Carol Hammerle said. 'We then justbecame very inconsistent. Arizona State elevated their defense, and westruggled to score.'

ASU closed the half on a 20-2 run, taking a 24-20 lead to thelocker room. Northern Illinois missed 11 of its final 12 shots from thefield before the intermission, shooting just 39 percent from the floorwhile Arizona State went nine-of-22 for 41 percent.

Levens' second trey pushed the magin into double digits, puttingArizona State ahead 37-25 at the 14:27 mark. The lead remained at 11points (40-29) before the Huskies made one final charge. Twothree-point plays from Youngblood capped a 10-2 run which cut thedeficit to 42-39 with 8:30 left, but Betsy Boardman buried athree-pointer and Levens added two jumpers as the Sun Devils ran backout to a 52-41 lead with 5:33 to play. Northern Illinois never gotcloser than four points the rest of the way.

The Sun Devils shot 44.4 percent (20-of-45) from the field,including four three-pointers. That attack overcame a 17-of-30performance by forcing 21 Huskie turnovers. Johnson was just five-of-13from the stripe but grabbed seven rebounds as the Sun Devils won thebattle of the boards, 34-31. Jessica Shattuck scored nine points forNIU, which shot 40.8 percent (20-of-49) but went scoreless fromthree-point range and took only 13 free throws, making ten. Kim Boedingadding eight and Kristan Knake tallying seven plus four assists for thehosts.

'Arizona State did a nice job of reading our defense. They wereable to take what we gave them,' Hammerle added. 'After our initialstart, they gave us a different look and we did not execute well.'

Northern Illinois travels to Normal, IL, on Thursday (Dec. 20)to meet instate rival Illinois State for a 7:05 p.m. match-up. ArizonaState returns to action Friday (Dec. 21), opening the Pacific-10Conference schedule when Stanford visits for a 7 p.m. contest.

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