Women's Basketball To Host Wells Fargo Holiday Classic Friday and Saturday

Nov. 27, 2002

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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After turning in season-opening wins over Chicago State and Northern Illinois, the Arizona State Sun Devils return to action this weekend, playing host to the 23rd annual Wells Fargo Holiday Classic Friday and Saturday, Nov. 29-30 at Wells Fargo Arena. Arizona State, off to a 2-0 start for the fifth straight season, will be looking to claim its second straight title in its own tournament. The Sun Devils play Portland State (2-0) in the first game at 6 p.m. on Friday night followed by Oklahoma State (0-3) vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee (0-2) in the nightcap at 8 p.m. On Saturday, the consolation game will tip off at 4 p.m. followed by the championship game at 6 p.m.

ASU Tournament HistoryThe Sun Devils have compiled a 33-12 record in their own tournament, reaching the championship game in 21 of 22 tournaments. Last year, ASU won the 2001 Wells Fargo Holiday Classic with wins over Fordham and Rutgers. ASU has captured the title in its own tournament 11 times, including two of the last three. Last year, two-time All-Pac-10 selection Amanda Levens was the tournament MVP, while Melody Johnson was also named to the all-tournament team.

Home-Court AdvantageArizona State, which plays its first seven games of the year in the friendly confines of Wells Fargo Arena, brings a 10-game home winning streak into this weekend's Wells Fargo Holiday Classic after winning its last eight Pac-10 home contests last year and its first two games of the 2002-03 season. The school record for consecutive home victories is 12 games, accomplished over the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons. ASU has turned in a 37-8 record at home in the last three seasons.

Good StartWith its win over Northern Illinois on Monday, ASU has turned in a 2-0 record to open the season for the fifth straight season, a streak dating back to 1998-99. 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.

Young GunsASU's true freshmen made big contributions so far this year with three of the highly touted rookies among ASU's top four scorers. Freshman Kristen Kovesdy is leading the team in scoring at 16.5 points per game and has knocked down all 11 of her attempts from the field so far this year, while freshman Jill Noe is second on the team in scoring at 15.0 points per game. Freshman Amy Denson rounds out the group of rookies leading the team in scoring, coming in at fourth at 11.5 points per game, while Noe and Kovesdy are second and third on the team in rebounding at 6.5 and 6.0 boards per game, respectively.

Noe led the Sun Devils with a double-double in their season-opening victory over Chicago State with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Kovesdy matched the feat with a double-double of her own with 19 points, on 7-of-7 shooting, and 10 rebounds off the bench Monday night vs. Northern Illinois.

Offensive FirepowerAfter leading the Pac-10 in most defensive categories in the last two years, this year's Sun Devils have also shown a little offensive firepower so far this year. In ASU's two regular-season games, the team is averaging 76.0 points per game, including 82 in their season-opening win over Chicago State on Nov. 22. The team is also shooting 45.9 percent from the field including a 58.5 percent showing vs. Chicago State. If you add in ASU's two exhibition games, including an 101-57 victory over Banska Bystrica, the Sun Devils are averaging 81.8 points per game and shooting 48.6 percent (121-249).

Quick Notes

- Sophomore guard Carrie Buckner is leading the team with 8.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game this year. She is also third on the team in scoring at 13.5 ppg, is shooting 55.6 percent from the field (10-18) and has blocked two shots.

- While freshman Kristen Kovesdy is leading the team in field goal percentage (11-11), freshman guard Jill Noe is shooting 58.8 percent from the field (10-17) and 66.7 percent from three-point land (4-6).

- As a team, ASU is averaging 10.0 steals per game including a season-high 12 in its win over Chicago State.

- This year, Arizona State returns just one starter (with the loss of junior and two-year starter Betsy Boardman to an ACL tear) and five letterwinners from its 2001-02 squad but adds a recruiting class of five freshmen and one junior college transfer which was ranked in the top 25 in the nation by Blue Star. The 2002-03 Sun Devil roster is a young one featuring a junior college transfer, four sophomores and six freshmen.

About Portland StatePortland State returns four starters and six letterwinners from its 11-18 team last year. The Vikings bring a 2-0 record to Tempe with a 71-60 win over Cal State Northridge on Nov. 22 and an 86-68 victory over Cal Poly on Nov. 25. Senior guard Nikki Petticrew is leading the team in scoring at 23.5 points per game, including a 24-point effort at Cal State Northridge, while junior forward Sarah Hedgepeth is averaging 13.5 points per game. Petticrew and Hedgepeth are tied for the team lead with 6.5 rebounds apiece, while Petticrew has knocked down a team-best nine three-pointers on the year.

A Look Ahead at Oklahoma State and Wisconsin-MilwaukeeOklahoma State enters Friday's night matchup with Wisconsin-Milwaukee after losing its first three games, including a 76-66 loss to Wichita State on Tuesday. The Cowgirls return three starters and four letterwinners from last year's 16-15 squad. Junior Trisha Skibbe leads the Cowgirls in scoring at 13.3 ppg and is second in rebounding with 5.7 rpg. Freshman guard Lori Allen is second on the team in scoring at 9.3 ppg and has pulled down a team-best 6.0 rebounds per game.

The Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers return three starters and eight letterwinners from their 20-8 NCAA Tournament squad last year but also enter Friday night's game looking for their first win of the season after dropping games to Purdue (82-59) and at Marquette (73-53). Junior center Maria Viall is leading the team in scoring and rebounding at 21.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. She has turned in a pair of 20-point efforts and has barely missed a pair of double-doubles, including 22 points and nine rebounds in the Panthers' loss at Marquette.

In the SeriesFriday night's game marks the first meeting between Arizona State and Portland State, while ASU holds a 34-8 all-time record vs. teams from the Big Sky Conference. ASU has also never faced Wisconsin-Milwaukee or Oklahoma State. The Sun Devils have never played a team from UWM's Horizon League, while ASU is 10-21 all time vs. teams from the Big 12 Conference including last year's 75-68 victory over then unranked Kansas State to win the Paradise Jam tournament championship.

Turner Thorne Second in All-Time Wins at ASUWith a 92-86 record in her six-plus years 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 last year, 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 mark in eight years (1979-87).

Since 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. In 2000-01, 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, while her 2001-02 squad tied the school mark for single-season wins with a 25-9 record. 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 six seasons and guided ASU to five consecutive double-digit win seasons.

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