Women's Hoops Returns Home to Face Washington, Washington State This Weekend

Jan. 8, 2002

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Winners of three of their last four games and 10 of their last 12, the Arizona State Sun Devils return home to the friendly confines of Wells Fargo Arena this weekend, playing host to Washington on Thursday and Washington State on Saturday. Last weekend, ASU split a pair of road games, falling at Oregon State and rebounding with their first victory at Oregon in eight games. The Sun Devils, now 12-4 on the year and 3-2 in the Pac-10, look to avenge last year's two losses to the Huskies in a match-up of two of last season's Pac-10 tri-champions, while ASU also looks to extend an eight-game winning streak over the Cougars which dates back to the 1997-98 season. Washington brings a three-game winning streak to Tempe and is 9-5 overall and 4-1 in the conference, while Washington State is 2-13 overall and 0-5 overall and has lost its last 10 games.

ExposureASU's flagship station XTRA 910 AM will broadcast both games to the Valley of the Sun with Vince Marotta calling the action. The broadcasts are also available via the ASU official athletics web site (www.thesundevils.com).

Turner Thorne Second in All-Time Wins at ASUWith a 77-81 record at ASU, head coach Charli Turner Thorne has moved into sole possession of second place in all-time wins by a Sun Devil women's basketball coach. With ASU's victory over Arizona on Dec. 30, the 2001 Pac-10 Coach of the Year passed Maura McHugh who turned in a 75-65 record in her six seasons at the helm (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).

Last Time OutOregon couldn't stop Arizona State's accurate shooting Sunday as the Sun Devils won 86-72 at McArthur Court to snap an eight-game losing streak in Eugene. The Sun Devils turned in season highs in overall (57.4 percent), three-point (60 percent) and free throw shooting (89.7) en route to the victory which was the team's first in Eugene since 1993.

Arizona State hit 68 percent of its shots in the first half - at one time late in the first half, the Sun Devils were shooting as high as 76 percent - and jumped out to a 49-30 halftime lead. The Ducks had a 13-8 advantage with 14:57 on the clock. But Arizona State went on a 17-2 run over the next six minutes, sparked by eight points from senior Amanda Levens who missed eight minutes after being shaken up after taking a charge, to lead 25-15.

Arizona State led by as many as 25 points midway through the second half, but Oregon used a run to close the gap to 75-63 with 3:03 left on the clock. The Sun Devils, however, knocked down 11 of 13 free throw attempts over the next three minutes to earn the victory.

Four ASU players scored in double figures for the fourth straight game, led by Levens who had 22 points. Levens knocked down 10-of-11 attempts from the line as the Sun Devils shot a season-best 89.7 percent (26-29) on free throws. Senior Melody Johnson tied her season high with 18 points, shooting 8-of-9 from the field, and tied with sophomore Betsy Boardman for the game high with seven rebounds.

For Oregon, junior guard Shaquala Williams scored 19 of her career-high-tying 31 points in the first half, while freshman Kedzie Gunderson scored a career-high 10 points in the game. Arizona State held Oregon's starting backcourt of Jamie Craighead and Alissa Edwards scoreless and allowed the Ducks a season-low 23 rebounds, outboarding Oregon 37-23.

Home-Court AdvantageWith a 7-2 home mark this year (including a 2-1 Pac-10 record), the Sun Devils have turned in a 29-8 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.

Levens Lighting Up the ScoreboardSenior guard Amanda Levens, winner of two Pac-10 Player-of-the-Week honors this season, leads the team and is ranked second in the Pac-10 at 20.2 points per game. She has scored 20 points or more on nine occasions this season, including a team-high 22 points at Oregon last weekend. She has led the team in scoring in 14 of 16 games this year and has topped the 20-point mark in six of the last eight games, averaging 22.5 points per contest in that stretch (180 points).

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 29 games and has had 16 efforts with 20 points or more. With 323 points this year through 16 games, she needs just 147 to match the 470 she had all of last year.

Winning the Battle of the BoardsASU has outrebounded all but two of its opponents this season and holds a 12-2 record in those games. Stanford and Oregon State have been the only teams to outrebound the Sun Devils this year. The Sun Devils are averaging 37.9 rebounds per game compared to a Pac-10 low 32.2 for their opponents, including a season-low 23 by both Rutgers and Oregon. ASU also led the Pac-10 in rebounding defense last year, holding its opponents to just 33.5 boards per contest.

Balanced AttackArizona State has averaged 81.0 points per game over the last three games, up from the team's season average of 69.8. In Pac-10 play, the Sun Devils are averaging 74.4 points per contest. That increase can be attributed to the fact that four Sun Devils have scored in double figures in each of the last four games, led by senior Amanda Levens who is averaging 21.0 ppg in Pac-10 play and sophomore Betsy Boardman who is averaging 13.4 points per game in conference action.

Defending the ThreeThe Sun Devils are leading the league in three-point field goal defense, allowing their opponents to shoot just 31.1 percent from beyond the arc (41-132). Although they finished ninth in the category last year, ASU led the league in three-point defense in 1998-99 and 1999-00.

ASU has held its last eight opponents to just 22.5 percent shooting from three-point range (16-71), including a 1-for-7 effort by Oregon State on Jan. 4. Stanford came into the Dec. 23 game as the Pac-10's best shooters from three-point land but knocked down just 33.3 percent of its attempts from beyond the arc (3-9).

About Washington & Washington StateWashington heads to Tempe riding a three-game winning streak that included a home sweep of UCLA and USC last weekend. The Huskies, who shared the Pac-10 title with Arizona State and Stanford last year, are 9-5 overall and 4-1 in league action this season with their only conference loss coming at Oregon. Junior guard Loree Payne leads four Huskies in double figures for scoring at 14.5 points per game. As a team, Washington ranks second in the Pac-10 in scoring at 75.4 points per contest. Sophomore forward Andrea Lalum is the club's top rebounder at 7.0 boards per game.

Washington State is 2-13 overall and 0-5 in the Pac-10. The Cougars have lost 10 consecutive games and will be looking for their first Pac-10 win of the year at Arizona on Thursday night. Senior center Brittney Hawks leads the Cougars in scoring and rebounding, averaging a double-double with 12.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Freshman guard Francine McCurtain, a Chinle, Ariz., native and graduate of Winslow High School, is second on the team in scoring (12.3 ppg) and rebounding (4.3 rpg).

In the SeriesWashington leads the series with Arizona State 22-10 including a 9-7 advantage in Tempe. Last year, Washington won both meetings with a 66-62 win in Tempe on Jan. 11 and a 79-60 victory in Seattle on Feb. 10. Prior to last year's loss at Wells Fargo Arena, ASU had won the last three meetings in Tempe.

Arizona State holds a 19-11 advantage in the series with Washington State and has won the last eight meetings with the Cougars. Last year, ASU began and ended its school-record seven Pac-10-game winning streak with wins over Wazzu, earning an 83-70 victory in Tempe on Jan. 13 and eking out a 74-72 decision in Pullman on Feb. 8. WSU's last victory over the Sun Devils came during the 1996-97 season with ASU sweeping the series in each of the last four years.

Washington ConnectionHead coach Charli Turner Thorne was a graduate assistant at the University of Washington under then head coach Chris Gobrecht from 1988-90. During Turner Thorne's stint at Washington, the Huskies advanced to the NCAA Tournament both seasons reaching the Elite Eight in 1989-90.

Joining the 1,000-Point ClubSeniors Amanda Levens and Melody Johnson have each surpassed the 1,000-point mark for their careers this season. Levens, who came to ASU after two seasons at Old Dominion, has scored 1,095 points in her career (302 points at ODU, 793 at ASU), while Johnson has now scored 1,087 points in her career. Johnson had 440 points in her two seasons at the University of Colorado and has 647 so far at ASU, while the Colorado Springs, Colo., native has also topped the 500-board mark and has 516 career rebounds (199 at Colorado, 317 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 207 more points at ASU, while Johnson needs 343 to accomplish the feat.

Amanda From Beyond the ArcSenior guard Amanda Levens has shot 43.8 percent from three-point land (28-64) over the past 12 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 33 treys and is shooting 41.3 percent from beyond the arc (33-80), which ranks sixth in the league. Levens has knocked down at least one three-pointer in all but two games this year and all but six games in her Sun Devil career. She has also had more than one three-pointer in 10 games this year including a pair in each game in Oregon last week.has moved into third place on ASU's career list with 93 three-pointers in her career and needs just seven more to become only the third Sun Devil in school history to hit 100 treys. Levens needs 23 three-pointers to tie with Molly Tuter (1994-97) for second all time with 116, while Crystal Cobb (1989-94) holds the ASU school record with 134 three-pointers in her career.

Kicking It Up a NotchPortland, Ore., native Betsy Boardman has kicked it up a notch in Pac-10 play, shooting 52.4 percent from the field, including a 58.8 clip from beyond the arc, and averaging 13.4 points per game. A Pac-10 All-Freshman selection last year, she has scored in double figures in each of the last five games, including a season-high 17 points at Oregon. After shooting just 24 percent from three-point land in the first 11 games of the year, Boardman has shot 58.8 percent from beyond the arc in the last five games (10-17) and now ranks ninth in the Pac-10 in the category, shooting 37 percent on the year (17-46).

Scoring DefenseAfter leading the Pac-10 in scoring defense last year (61.5 ppg), ASU has continued its stingy ways in 2001-02, ranking second in the league at just 59.3 points per game. Cal leads the league in category at 57.7 ppg. ASU has held four teams under 50 points, including 49 by Cal on Dec. 23 and 40 points by Fordham on Dec. 1, which was the fewest points given up this year and the fewest since downing South Florida 74-39 on Nov. 19 of last year. The Sun Devils also set a school record by holding Chicago State to just nine points in the first half of its 83-43 victory on Dec. 13.

Dishing It OutASU's starting backcourt of senior Amanda Levens and true freshman Kylan Loney is averaging 8.3 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 rank just behind Oregon State's Leilani Estavan and Ericka Cook (8.8 assists per game) as the top duo in the conference this year. At 4.8 assists per game, Levens ranks fifth in the Pac-10 in the category. She has led the team in the category in seven of the last eight games, including a career-high nine assists at Oregon State, while Loney is 10th in the league at 3.5 per game. Loney is fifth in the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.47, while Levens is sixth at 1.46.

In the PollsArizona State is unranked for the seventh week after dropping out of the poll on Nov. 26 but continues to receive votes in each poll (28th in AP, 30th 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. Washington and Washington State are unranked.

Levens Repeats as Pac-10 Player of the WeekSenior guard Amanda Levens was named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week on two consecutive weeks (Dec. 10 and 17) after leading ASU to four straight victories. She became the first Sun Devil to ever earn back-to-back selections and the first to earn two conference player-of-the-week honors in a season since Ryneldi Becenti in 1992-93. The Player-of-the-Week honors were the second and third of Levens' career and the 19th and 20th all-time selections for ASU.

StreakingASU's seven-game winning streak, which was snapped with a Dec. 23 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.

Not Shying Away From AnyoneSo far this season, ASU has faced six coaches ranked among the 25 all-time winningest coaches in NCAA women's basketball history and come up with wins in five of the games: Arizona's Joan Bonvicini (18th), Stanford's Tara VanDerveer (17th), Northern Illinois' Carol Hammerle (22nd), Kansas' Marian Washington (16th), Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer (3rd) and Mike Granelli of St. Peter's (10th). ASU has played teams coached by 12 of the top 25 coaches over the last five seasons, while in the past three seasons alone, ASU has played all five of the NCAA's winningest women's basketball coaches.

Quick Hits

- The Sun Devils have topped 80 points in two of the last three games, including a season-high 87 points vs. Arizona and 86 at Oregon. ASU's 87 points vs. the Wildcats marked the most for the Sun Devils since the team scored 96 in a 96-52 win over Gonzaga on Dec. 5, 1998, a span of 96 games.

- ASU has shot 77.3 percent from the free throw line in the last two games (41-53), including a season-high 89.7 percent at Oregon (26-29), up from the team's 63.8 clip on the year. The 89.7 percent effort vs. the Ducks is the best since the team shot 96.3 percent at USC on Feb. 19, 2000 (26-27).

- The Sun Devils rank in the top three in the league in five defensive categories this year, including rebounding defense (1st), three-point defense (1st), scoring defense (2nd), scoring margin (2nd) and rebounding margin (3rd).

- Senior Cian Carvalho has averaged 12.2 points per game over the last five contests, including a season-high 15 points vs. Arizona. She hit the first two three-pointers of her career vs. Stanford and has had at least one three-pointer in each of the last four games.

- After shooting just 36.8 percent from the field in its first four games (87-236), ASU has shot 45.4 percent in the last 12 (294-648). From three-point land, ASU has improved from 24.4 percent (10-41) in its first four games to 39.2 in the last 12 (60-153).

- In the last four games, ASU has shot 52.9 percent from three-point land (27-51), including a season-high 6-of-10 outing at Oregon on Jan. 6. From the field, the Sun Devils have topped the 50-percent mark in two of the last three games, including a season-high 57.4 percent outing at Oregon. In those three games, ASU has shot 47.3 percent overall (80-169).

- Since the first Pac-10 statistics of the year were released three weeks ago, ASU has climbed from sixth to third in field goal percentage and from 10th to second in three-point shooting.

- Senior Melody Johnson turned in her second double-double of the year and the seventh of her career with 14 points and a career-high 12 rebounds vs. Arizona Dec. 30. She turned in her first double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds vs. Richmond on Nov. 26 to earn Paradise Jam MVP honors.

- Johnson continues to lead Arizona State in career field goal percentage, converting on 55.4 percent of her attempts (246-444). This year, the Colorado Springs, Colo., native ranks sixth in the Pac-10 in the category, knocking down 52.9 percent of her attempts from the field (74-140), including a perfect 7-for-7 effort Dec. 13 at Chicago State and an 8-of-9 outing Jan. 6 at Oregon.

- The Sun Devil rotation includes 11 players this year with nine averaging at least 10 minutes per game and freshman Lauren Stagg just shy of the 10-minute mark at 9.4 minutes per game. Senior Amanda Levens is leading the team in minutes played at 28.9 per game, while true freshman point guard Kylan Loney is second at 26.1.

- While the Sun Devils have gotten to the free throw line 445 times in 16 games (27.8 times per game and 93 more times than any other Pac-10 school), the team has struggled a bit at the charity stripe, knocking down just 63.8 percent of its attempts (284-445). ASU has shot below 60 percent from the free throw line six times this year, including a season-low 53.1 percent (17-32) Dec. 23 vs. Stanford.

- Senior Amanda Levens has already been to the free throw line 131 times this year and has knocked down 77.9 percent of her attempts, which ranks ninth in the Pac-10 (102-131). 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 18.8 points per game over the last 12 contests (225 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 10-2 on the year when outscoring their opponents' bench.

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

- ASU's crowd of 2,419 at the Stanford game on Dec. 23 was the largest home crowd of the year for the Sun Devils. ASU has averaged 1,854 fans per game so far in the Pac-10 season.

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.

Road WarriorsCounting last weekend's trip to the state of Oregon, Arizona State is in the middle of a stretch that will see the team play six of eight games on the road. The Sun Devils are 3-1 in road games this season, winning at Chicago State and Northern Illinois in December and splitting a pair at Oregon State (loss) and Oregon (win). Last year, ASU finished the season with a 7-5 road record, including a 5-4 mark in Pac-10 play, which marked the most road wins since the 1992-93 squad turned in the same record. ASU's 86-72 victory at Oregon on Jan. 6 snapped an eight-game road losing streak at McArthur Court and was the team's first victory in Eugene since the 1992-93 season.

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.

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