Women's Hoops Returns to Conference Action Sunday Morning vs. Cal

Dec. 22, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Winners of seven of their last eight games, the Arizona State Sun Devils complete their Pac-10 opening weekend with a rare morning tilt with California at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 23 at Wells Fargo Arena. On Friday, ASU opened up the conference slate with a 75-66 loss to sixth-ranked Stanford which snapped the Sun Devils' seven-game winning streak, which was the longest winning streak of last year's team and is the team's most consecutive victories since 1991-92. The Sun Devils take on Cal looking for their first Pac-10 win of the year, while the team is 9-3 overall. California is 4-4 on the year, falling at Arizona 66-61 on Friday night in the team's Pac-10 opener.

ExposureASU's flagship station XTRA 910 AM will broadcast the Cal 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).

Fox Sports Net will televise the California game to a national cable audience with Barry Tompkins and Tammie Blackburn calling the action. It marks the first television appearance of the year for the Sun Devils who were 9-4 when playing on live TV last year.

Up NextFollowing the Cal game, ASU will take a week off for the holidays before returning to action on Sunday, Dec. 30, playing host to intrastate rival Arizona at 2 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.

Turner Thorne Third in All-Time Wins at ASUWith a 74-79 record at ASU, head coach Charli Turner Thorne is already third in all-time wins by a Sun Devil women's basketball coach. Last year's Pac-10 Coach of the Year, she needs just two wins to move into second on that list and pass Maura McHugh who turned in a 75-65 record in her six seasons at the helm from 1987-93. Juliene Simpson is the all-time winningest coach in ASU women's basketball history, notching a 134-92 record in eight seasons (1979-87).

Levens Repeats as Pac-10 Player of the WeekSenior guard Amanda Levens has been named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week for the second consecutive week, Commissioner Tom Hansen announced Monday. Levens, who hails from Belvidere, Ill., averaged 23.5 points in a pair of wins in her native state as ASU defeated Chicago State Dec. 13 and Northern Illinois Dec. 15. Levens led the Sun Devils in scoring in both games, notching 21 points against the Cougars and 26 points against the Huskies. She shot a combined 57.7 percent (15-of-26) from the field and connected on 44.4 percent of her three-point shots (4-for-9). Levens also averaged 5.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals in the wins.

The Player-of-the-Week honor is the third of Levens' career and the 20th all-time selection for Arizona State. She becomes the first Sun Devil to ever earn back-to-back selections and is the first ASU player to earn two conference player-of-the-week honors in a season since Ryneldi Becenti in 1992-93.

Last Time OutSenior guard Amanda Levens scored a game-high 28 points, but it was not enough as Arizona State fell to sixth-ranked Stanford 75-66 Friday night in the team's Pac-10 season opener at Wells Fargo Arena.

Stanford sophomore Nicole Powell was 10-of-15 from the field for 25 points, while senior Lindsey Yamasaki had 22 for the Cardinal.

In the first half, ASU took control early with a 15-2 run that gave it a 34-21 advantage with 5:02 remaining before the half. Levens scored nine of the 15 points, and finished with 16 in the first half. Stanford got back into the game with a 12-2 run over the final four minutes, and ASU led just 36-33 at intermission. The three-point deficit marked the first time Stanford has trailed at halftime this season.

Stanford took its first lead of the game on the strength of a 17-5 run to open the second half. The Cardinal took the lead at 39-37 on a Powell lay-up at 18:22 and built the lead to 50-41 just 3:27 later.

The Sun Devils cut the lead to five at 52-47 with 11:17 remaining, but Stanford went on a 10-2 run behind six points from Yamasaki to push the lead to 62-49 at the 7:58 mark. The Sun Devils, who tied for the Pac-10 title with Stanford and Washington last season, got no closer than seven points the rest of the way.

For ASU, Levens led the team in scoring for the ninth time this year and turned in her seventh 20-point effort of the season with 28 points, while sophomore Betsy Boardman had a season-high 11 points and senior Cian Carvalho chipped in with 10.

A Loss in the Battle of the BoardsASU was outrebounded for the first time this season vs. Stanford, losing the battle of the boards to the Cardinal 32-27. The Sun Devils outrebounded all 10 of their previous opponents this season and are averaging 38.4 rebounds per game compared to a Pac-10 low 31.4 for their opponents. In the last nine games, ASU has held its opponents to just 30.4 boards, including a season-low 23 by Rutgers. Last season, ASU also led the Pac-10 in rebounding defense, holding its opponents to just 33.5 boards per contest.

StreakingASU's seven-game winning streak, which was snapped with Friday night's loss to the sixth-ranked Stanford Cardinal, was the longest for the Sun Devils since the team won seven consecutive Pac-10 games last year from Jan. 13 to Feb. 8. The 1991-92 team holds the school record for consecutive victories, opening the season with nine straight victories.

ASU in Pac-10 OpenersIncluding the team's 75-66 loss to Stanford on Friday night, ASU is 2-14 all time in Pac-10 Conference season openers, including a 2-6 record when opening at home.

Last year, ASU lost at then 21st-ranked Stanford 92-64 Jan. 4 at Maples Pavilion and dropped two of its first three conference games before going on a school-record seven-game Pac-10 winning streak. The season before, ASU opened the Pac-10 Conference slate with two wins for the first time in school history, defeating Stanford 74-68 on Jan. 6 and following that with a 69-59 win over Cal Jan. 8 at Wells Fargo Arena. Prior to their victory over Stanford in 2000, Arizona State had earned a victory in its conference opener only once before, downing Washington State 82-73 in Tempe on Jan. 3, 1991.

Home-Court AdvantageWith a 5-2 home mark this year, the Sun Devils have turned in an 27-8 mark at home in the last three seasons. Last year, the team went 12-4 at home, tying the school record for home victories at Wells Fargo Arena.

In the PollsArizona State is unranked for the fourth week after dropping out of the poll on Nov. 26 but continues to receive votes in each poll (27th in AP, 27th USA Today). Following back-to-back losses on Nov. 21 and Nov. 24, Arizona State dropped out of the polls on Nov. 26 after being ranked 21st and 25th in the Nov. 19 Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches polls, respectively. Cal is unranked.

About CaliforniaCalifornia brings a four-game losing streak to Tempe after falling at Arizona 66-61 on Friday night in Tucson. The Golden Bears won their first four games of the year but finished the non-conference slate with losses to Georgia, San Francisco and Saint Mary's. Senior forward Ami Forney leads the Bears in scoring (14.8 ppg) and rebounding (5.6), including 23 points vs. Arizona, while the Cal team paces the Pac-10 in scoring defense, holding its opponents to just 56.2 points per game.

In the SeriesCalifornia leads the all-time series with the Sun Devils 20-15, while the series is tied 8-8 in games played in Tempe. ASU won both games last year when the Sun Devils snapped an eight-game road losing streak against the Golden Bears in Berkeley with a 58-47 win on Jan. 6 and swept the series with a 70-58 victory in Tempe on March 8.

Cal ConnectionsArizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne and assistant coach Laura Hughes also have a connection to second-year Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer. Turner Thorne was an assistant under Horstmeyer at Santa Clara for three seasons from 1990-1993. The Broncos won three West Coast Conference titles in those three seasons including a 28-3 mark and WNIT championship in 1990-91 and a run to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 1991-92. Hughes was a big part of the Broncos' success on the court, starting at power forward in 1990-92. She averaged 15 points and seven rebounds per game and shot a school-record 53.9 percent in her two seasons there.

Lighting Up the ScoreboardSenior guard Amanda Levens, winner of each of the last two Pac-10 Player-of-the-Week honors, leads the team and is ranked second in the Pac-10 at 20.5 points per game this season, including seven efforts with 20 points or more. She has led the team in scoring in 10 of 12 games this year and has topped the 20-point mark in each of the last four games, including a game-high 28 vs. Stanford Friday night.

The transfer from Old Dominion University scored a career-high 30 points in ASU's season-opening win over St. Peter's, while at the Paradise Jam, Levens just missed tying her career high with 29 points in ASU's win over Kansas State. Leven's 30-point effort vs. St. Peter's marked the most points for a Sun Devil since Molly Tuter scored 32 in a 70-66 victory over Southern Utah on Nov. 8, 1997.

In her short ASU career, Levens has led ASU in scoring in 25 games and has had 14 efforts with 20 points or more.

Joining the 1,000-Point ClubWith her 28-point effort vs. Stanford on Friday, senior Amanda Levens, who came to ASU after two seasons at Old Dominion, has passed the 1,000-point mark and has scored 1,017 points in her career (302 points at ODU, 715 at ASU). Earlier this season, senior Melody Johnson joined the 1,000-point club and now has scored 1,036 points so far in her career. Johnson had 440 points in her two seasons at the University of Colorado and has 596 so far at ASU, while the Colorado Springs, Colo., native needs just 11 more rebounds to reach the 500-board mark for her career (199 at Colorado, 290 so far at ASU).

The pair also has a shot at becoming the 13th and 14th Sun Devils to join ASU's 1000-point club and the first players since Olivia Jones (1980-83) to do it in just two seasons. Levens needs 285 more points at ASU, while Johnson needs 404 to accomplish the feat.

Amanda's Hot HandSenior guard Amanda Levens has shot 44.7 percent from three-point land (21-47) over the past eight games, including a career-best 6-of-9 performance in ASU's win over Kansas on Dec. 5. She has knocked down a team-best 26 treys and is shooting 41.3 percent from beyond the arc (26-63). Levens has knocked down at least one three-pointer in all but one game this year and all but five games in her Sun Devil career. She has also had more than one three-pointer in seven games this year, including three vs. Stanford.

ASU's single-season leader with 60 three-pointers made last year, Levens already stands in fifth place on ASU's career list with 86 three-pointers in her career. She is now chasing Ryneldi Becenti (90 in 1991-93) for fourth place, while Crystal Cobb (1989-94) holds the ASU school record with 134 three-pointers in her career.

Scoring DefenseAfter leading the Pac-10 in scoring defense last year (61.5 ppg), ASU has continued its stingy ways in 2001-02, allowing just 57.2 points per game. Prior to giving up 75 points against Stanford, ASU's defense had allowed just 48.2 points per game in the previous five games. ASU set a school record by holding Chicago State to just nine points in the first half of its 83-43 victory on Dec. 13.

The Sun Devils rank second in the Pac-10 in the category behind Cal (56.2 ppg). ASU held Fordham to just 40 points, the fewest points given up this year and the fewest since downing South Florida 74-39 on Nov. 19 of last year, while the Sun Devils held Kansas State to a season-low 58 points, 27 points below the Wildcats' then season average of 85.7 ppg.

Dishing It OutASU's starting backcourt of senior Amanda Levens and true freshman Kylan Loney is averaging 7.8 assists per game so far this season, the most since Natalie Tucker and Kitch Kitchen averaged 8.4 assists as the second-best tandem in the Pac-10 in 1998-99. Levens and Loney are currently the second-best pair of guards in the league behind Oregon's Shaquala Williams and Edniesha Curry who are averaging 8.5 assists per game.

At 4.3 assists per game, Levens ranks sixth in the Pac-10 in the category and has led the team with five assists in three of the last four games, while Loney is 10th in the league at 3.6 per game. Levens is also ranked ninth in the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.4, while Loney is seventh in that category at 1.5.

Quick Hits- A victory Sunday vs. California would be Charli Turner Thorne's 75th win at ASU and her 35th Pac-10 victory.

- ASU's crowd of 2,419 at the Stanford game was the largest home crowd of the year for the Sun Devils.

- Sunday's game pits the two stingiest teams in the Pac-10 in scoring defense with Cal leading the league by allowing just 56.2 points per game and ASU second at just 57.2 ppg allowed per contest.

- Despite the loss, ASU held Stanford to 75 points, 10 points below their Pac-10 leading average per game, and 32 rebounds, 11.7 rebounds below their Pac-10 best 43.7 per game.

- ASU emerged from the non-conference slate with nine victories for the first time since the 1991-92 season.

- After shooting just 36.8 percent from the field in its first four games (87-236), ASU has shot 44.4 percent in the last seven (187-414). From three-point land, ASU has improved from 24.4 percent (10-41) in its first four games to 36.3 in the last seven (37-102). Since the first Pac-10 statistics of the year were released two weeks ago, ASU has improved from sixth to fourth in field goal percentage and from 10th to sixth in three-point shooting.

- The Sun Devils have turned in five of their best six shooting performances in the last five games, including a season-high 55.8 percent (29-52) in their victory at Chicago State. The team's shooting performance at Chicago State was the best since ASU shot 61.1 percent (33-54) in a Dec. 3, 1999 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

- ASU has held its last four opponents to just 20.7 percent shooting from three-point range (6-29), including an 0-for-6 effort by NIU. Stanford came into Friday's game as the Pac-10's best shooters from three-point land at 40.6 percent but knocked down just 33.3 percent of its attempts from beyond the arc (3-9).

- Senior Melody Johnson continues to lead Arizona State in career field goal percentage, converting on 55.7 percent of her attempts (225-404). This year, the Colorado Springs, Colo., native ranks second in the Pac-10 in the category, knocking down 53.0 percent of her attempts from the field (53-100), including a perfect 7-for-7 effort Dec. 13 at Chicago State.

- Eight Sun Devils are averaging at least 10 minutes per game, while two are just shy of the 10-minute mark at 9.9 and 9.6 minutes. Senior Amanda Levens is leading the team in minutes played at 28.7 per game, while true freshman point guard Kylan Loney is second at 26.5.

- While the Sun Devils have gotten to the free throw line 354 times in 12 games (29.5 times per game and over 100 more times than any other Pac-10 school), the team has struggled a bit at the charity stripe, knocking down just 60.7 percent of its attempts (215-354). ASU has shot below 60 percent from the free throw line five times this year, including a season-low 53.1 percent (17-32) Friday night vs. Stanford.

- Senior Amanda Levens has already been to the line 102 times this year and has knocked down 76.5 percent of her attempts (78-102). Last year, Levens set school single-season marks for free throws (146) and was second in attempts (183) and is on pace to eclipse those marks in 2001-02.

- ASU's bench has averaged 21.1 points per game over the last eight contests (169 points), including a season-high 27 points at Chicago State on Dec. 13. ASU's bench has had 20 or more points in five games this year, and the Sun Devils are 8-2 on the year when outscoring their opponents' bench.

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