Women's Hoops to Host Instate Rival Arizona Thursday Night

Jan. 20, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Coming off close losses to UCLA and USC last weekend, the Arizona State Sun Devils (11-6 overall, 3-5 Pac-10) look to snap a two-game losing streak Thursday night when the team plays host to instate rival Arizona. Thursday night's game with the No. 19/20 Wildcats is scheduled to tip off at 6 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena and will be televised by AZ-TV (George Allen and Doug Gerlach calling the action).

Arizona State, which has lost three of its last four games, will be looking to notch the team's third straight home win over Arizona and avoid its first three-game losing streak since dropping the last three games of the 1999-00 season. Thursday night's game will be the 56th meeting between the two teams in the longest series in school history, which dating back to 1975-76, the first year of varsity women's basketball at ASU. The Wildcats, ranked 19th in this week's Associated Press poll and 20th in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll, bring a 12-4 overall record and a 6-2 Pac-10 mark in Thursday night's game, having swept the Los Angeles schools last weekend and won five of their last six games.

In the SeriesArizona State holds a 33-22 advantage in the all-time series with Arizona, including a 16-12 advantage in games played in Tempe. The Sun Devils have won four of the last five games in the series with the Wildcats, including two of three last season. Last year, ASU turned in an 87-64 victory over Arizona Dec. 30 in Tempe, which was ASU's biggest win in the series since turning in a 29-point 83-54 victory in 1980-81. ASU fell to the Wildcats 72-66 on Feb. 23 in Tucson and downed Arizona 66-58 on March 2 in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament, which was the first of ASU's three come-from-behind wins en route to the inaugural league tournament title. ASU trailed by 10 points at halftime of that game (36-26). Senior Cian Carvalho scored 15 of her 17 points in the second-half effort, and the Sun Devils held the Wildcats to just 17.4 percent shooting and four field goals in the final 20 minutes en route to the victory.

The series with Arizona is the longest for the Sun Devils and dates back to the 1975-76 season, the first year of varsity women's basketball at Arizona State (although the team played another seven games before that year with UA winning five of seven). ASU snapped a 14-game losing streak to the Wildcats in 2000-01 with its first season sweep since 1991-92. While the Wildcats have gotten the best of the series in recent years, the Sun Devils dominated it in the early games, winning 18 of the first 20 meetings which included a streak of 16 games that encompassed eight full seasons (1978-79 to 1985-86).

Arizona ConnectionArizona State freshman Jenny Thigpin was a high school teammate of Arizona redshirt freshman Shawntinice Polk at Hanford (Calif.) High School. Thigpin, a 6-2 forward, and Polk, a 6-5 center, led the Hanford Lady Pups to three straight league titles (1999-01) and the 2001 CIF Division II state championship.

Home-Court AdvantageArizona State's losses to UCLA and USC last weekend snapped a 10-game Pac-10 home winning streak for the Sun Devils and marked the team's first Pac-10 home losses since ASU fell to then sixth-ranked Stanford 75-66 on Dec. 21, 2001. ASU has now won 16 of its last 19 home games and 10 of 12 Pac-10 home games dating back to last year. In the last three seasons, ASU has gone 17-5 in Pac-10 play at home.

Earlier this year, the Sun Devils had their school-record 13-game home winning streak snapped by No. 9 Notre Dame on Dec. 7. That streak included the team's last eight Pac-10 home contests of last season and its first five games of the 2002-03 season. The previous school record for consecutive home victories was 12, accomplished over the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons. ASU, which played its first seven games of the 2002-03 season at home, has turned in a 42-11 record at Wells Fargo Arena in the last four seasons.

There's No Place Like HomeIn addition to their 8-3 record at Wells Fargo Arena this year (2-2 in Pac-10 games), the Sun Devils are also turning in some stellar stats in their home games. At home, ASU is averaging 69.6 points a game and shooting 42.7 percent from the field (271-634) and 36.1 percent from three-point land (52-144). In comparison, on the road, the team is averaging 66.3 points per game and shooting 40.6 percent from the field (146-360) and just 24.2 percent from three-point land (15-62).

Just Say NoeFreshman Jill Noe earned her second Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week honor of the season last week and became the first true freshman in the Pac-10 to earn two player-of-the-week honors in a season since Stanford's Nicole Powell did it in 2000-01. Noe was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for Dec. 30-Jan. 5 after averaging 21.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 4.5 steals in ASU's home wins over Oregon State and Oregon. She turned in a career-high 23 points and 11 rebounds in the victory over Oregon State and followed up that effort with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in ASU's win over Oregon. On the weekend, Noe shot 41.7 percent from the field (10-24), 42.9 percent from three-point land (6-14) and 83.3 percent from the free throw line (15-18).

Noe was also named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Dec. 9-15. She came within one rebound and one assist of recording the 13th triple-double in Pac-10 history in ASU's 76-53 defeat of Denver on Dec. 9. Noe finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, adding six steals in 26 minutes of play. She shot 7-of-11 (.636) from the field, including a 75.0 percent clip (3-of-4) from 3-point range. Noe also recorded two blocked shots and committed no turnovers in the victory over the Pioneers.

Noe has done it all for the Sun Devils this year, pacing the team in scoring (15.1 ppg), three-point field goal percentage (.394), free throw percentage (.822), assists (3.5 apg), steals (2.5 spg) and is third on the team in rebounding (5.6 rpg). She is ranked second in the Pac-10 in free throw shooting, third in steals, seventh in scoring, sixth in three-point shooting and tied for ninth in assists. With 256 points, she already ranks fourth on the ASU single-season list for scoring by a freshman and is also threatening the school freshman records for steals (fifth with 42) and assists (ninth with 59).

Noe has scored in double figures 14 times in 17 games this year (with four 20-point games) and has paced the team in scoring in 10 of ASU's 17 contests this season, including nine of the last 13. She notched career highs for scoring in back-to-back games with 21 points at California on Dec. 29 and 23 points Jan. 2 vs. Oregon State and matched her career best again with 23 points (including 18 in the second half) at Washington State on Jan. 11. Noe is also tied with fellow freshman Kristen Kovesdy for the team lead with three double-doubles on the year including 11 points and 11 rebounds Jan. 16 vs. UCLA.

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 this season. This year, the team is averaging 68.5 points per game which ranks fifth in the Pac-10, including a season-high 82 points twice (last at Akron on Dec. 20). The team also ranks sixth in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage and three-point percentage, shooting 42.0 percent from the field (417-994) and 32.5 percent from three-point land (67-206).

But Not to Forget the Defense...Despite the team's improved offensive performance, the Sun Devils still continue to be one of the top defensive teams in the conference. ASU is second in the Pac-10 in rebounding defense, allowing just 33.1 rebounds per game. The Sun Devils are also ranked third in the league in scoring defense, allowing just 62.3 points per contest. Arizona State has led the league in both rebounding and scoring defense in each of the last two years (2000-01 and 2001-02). Last year, the team set a Pac-10 record by giving up just 59.1 points per game.

Last Time OutFreshman Jill Noe had 15 points as Arizona State lost its second straight close game, falling to USC 58-53 Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena.

It was the tale of two halves for the Sun Devils who took control of the first 20 minutes of the game. USC scored the first four points of the game, but ASU scored the next eight points to go up 8-4 with 16:03 left and never looked back. ASU pushed its lead to double digits midway through the half and took their biggest advantage when Noe nailed a three-pointer with 12 seconds left to give ASU a 34-18 halftime lead. Noe led all players with 11 points and six rebounds in the first half, while the Sun Devils turned in their second-best first-half performance of the year, knocking down 59.1 percent of their shots (13-22)

USC began its comeback at the beginning of the second half, opening the period with a 10-0 to cut the Sun Devil lead to six, 34-28 with 16:09 to play. ASU held onto a single-digit lead for the next 13 minutes, but the Women of Troy made their move late in the half, using a 9-0 run, including six points from junior Ebony Hoffman, to take a 54-53 lead with 1:12 to play. USC held the Sun Devils scoreless over the final 1:12 of the game, and Hoffman and junior Jessica Cheeks each hit a pair of late free throws to secure the 58-53 victory. After shooting 59.1 percent in the first half, ASU shot just 16.7 percent in the second half (5-30).

For the Sun Devils, Noe led the team with 15 points and eight rebounds, while sophomore Carrie Buckner and freshman Kristen Kovesdy each had eight points. Sophomore Kylan Loney led the team with six assists.

USC's Hoffman led all scorers with 16 points, 12 coming in the second half, while Cheeks also scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half. Sophomore Rachel Woodward had 13 rebounds for the Women of Troy, while Cheeks also led the team with six assists.

Ball TheftsThe Sun Devils are ranked second in the Pac-10 in steals this season, averaging 11.4 steals per game. The team had a season-high 20 steals vs. UW-Milwaukee in the championship game of the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic on Nov. 30 and 19 in their victory over Denver on Dec. 9. ASU has tallied at least 10 steals in 11 of 17 games this year. Freshman Jill Noe leads the team and is ranked third in the Pac-10 with 2.5 thefts per game, including a career-high-tying six steals Jan. 2 vs. Oregon State. Eight Sun Devils have 12 or more steals on the year.

Young GunsThree of ASU's true freshmen continue to lead the team and rank in the top 20 in the Pac-10 in both scoring and rebounding. Freshman guard Jill Noe ranks first on the team and seventh in the Pac-10 in scoring at 15.1 points and third on the team and 15th in the Pac-10 in rebounding at 5.6 boards per contest. Noe has led the team in scoring in nine of the last 13 games, including a career-best 23 points Jan. 2 vs. Oregon State and again Jan. 11 at Washington State. Freshman forward Kristen Kovesdy leads the team and ranks eighth in the Pac-10 in rebounding (6.7 rpg) and is tied for second on the team and 16th in the Pac-10 in scoring (11.2 ppg). Kovesdy also leads the team and ranks third in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage at 59.5 percent (72-121). Freshman forward Amy Denson is tied with Kovesdy for second on the team in scoring and ranks third in rebounding, checking in at 16th in the league with 11.2 points per game and ninth with 6.2 rebounds per game.

Double TroubleASU had a true freshman turn in her first career double-double in each of the team's first three games, while the Sun Devil rookies have all eight of ASU's double-doubles this season. Freshman guard Jill Noe led the Sun Devils with a double-double in their season-opening win over Chicago State with 17 points and 10 rebounds, freshman forward Kristen 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 vs. Northern Illinois, and freshman forward Amy Denson turned in 12 points and 14 rebounds in ASU's victory over Portland State in the first round of the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic. Kovesdy turned in the second double-double of her young career at Kent State on Dec. 18 with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Denson turned in the second of her career with 17 points and 11 rebounds at Cal on Dec. 29 and Noe accomplished the same feat on Jan. 2 with career bests of 23 points and 11 rebounds vs. Oregon State. Both Noe and Kovesdy had their third double-doubles of the season Jan. 16 vs. UCLA with Noe turning in 11 points and a career-high-tying 11 rebounds and Kovesdy adding 13 points and a career-best 13 boards.

Second-Half SurgesThis year's Sun Devils have shown the ability to kick things up a notch in the second half, outscoring their opponents 638-553 over the final 20 minutes this year. The team has only been outscored in the second half just four games this year (all losses - at Stanford, at Cal, vs. UCLA and vs. USC). ASU has shot 44.8 percent from the field in the second half this year (220-491), including a season-best 81.0 percent outing Dec. 20 at Akron (17-21). Comparatively, the Sun Devils have outscored their opponents just 526-506 and shot just 39.2 percent from the field (197-503) in the first halves of games this year.

In the team's first loss of the year to No. 9 Notre Dame, the Sun Devils followed up a dismal 17-point, 13.8-percent half by playing the Fighting Irish to a 35-35 tie and shooting 39.5 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes. On Dec. 18 at Kent State, ASU rebounded from a 26.7 percent first half (8-30) with a 51.9 percent half (14-27). In ASU's games at Washington and Washington State on Jan. 9 and 11, the team averaged 16.5 points and shot 22.8 percent from the field (13-57) in the first halves compared to 44.5 points and 46.9 percent from the field (31-66) in the second halves of the two contests.

Success at the Charity StripeThis season, the Sun Devils have turned into one of the league's best free throw shooting teams, ranking fourth in the Pac-10 in the category at 68.7 percent on the year (263-383). Last year, the team finished ninth in the Pac-10 in the category at just 63.9 percent (524-820). The Sun Devils turned in their best effort from the charity stripe this year with an 83.3 percent outing (15-18) at Kent State on Dec. 18 and have shot 70 percent or better from the line in nine of 17 games. Freshman Jill Noe leads the team and is second in the Pac-10 at 82.2 percent (74-90), including 8-of-8 Jan. 18 vs. USC, while freshman Amy Denson is second on the team at 73.2 percent (41-56). Six Sun Devils are shooting at least 65 percent from the charity stripe on the season.

Quick Notes- Sophomore Carrie Buckner played a career-high 35 minutes in each of ASU's games vs. UCLA and USC last weekend, averaging 10.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game and taking the toughest defensive assignment in each contest. She held the Pac-10's scoring leader, UCLA senior Michelle Greco, to just six points, 12.6 points below her league-leading average of 18.6 points per game and added 12 points and six rebounds, while against the Women of Troy, she had eight points and matched her career-best with five steals.

- On the year, Buckner ranks fifth in the Pac-10 with 2.1 steals per game. With 35 takeaways this year, she needs just three more to match her production from last year.

- In ASU's losses to UCLA and USC last weekend, the Sun Devils averaged just 55.5 points per game. The team shot just 37.1 percent from the field (43-116) and 15.8 percent from three-point land (3-19). ASU also turned the ball over an average of 27.0 times per contest, including a season-high 31 giveaways vs. USC, and had 11 shots blocked on the weekend.

- The Sun Devils have already blocked 54 shots this season, which surpasses the 51 the team had all of last year and is the most since the 1998-99 team had 62 rejections. Last year, ASU finished ninth in the Pac-10 with just 1.5 blocks per game, while this season, the team ranks fifth with 3.2 per contest. Freshman Kristen Kovesdy leads the team and ranks eighth in the Pac-10 in the category with 0.8 blocked shots per game. Her 14 blocked shots also put her in fifth on the ASU single-season list for blocks by a freshman and just five rejections out of second place on the list.

- ASU outrebounded UCLA 55-35 on Jan. 16, which marked a season high for the Sun Devils in rebounding and the most boards since the team turned in 55 in a win over Delaware State on Nov. 19, 2001. The last time ASU had 50 or more rebounds against a Pac-10 team came during the 1996-97 season when both Arizona State and Arizona had 50 rebounds in a 66-42 Wildcat win in Tempe.

- After turning an average of 15.5 offensive rebounds per game in the last two contests, including a season-high 17 vs. UCLA on Jan. 16, the Sun Devils are now leading the Pac-10 in the category with 15.82 offensive boards per game. Freshman Kristen Kovesdy ranks fourth in the Pac-10 with 3.1 offensive rebounds per game.

- Despite being one of the better free throw shooting teams in the Pac-10 this year, the Sun Devils have shot just 59.3 percent from the charity stripe (51-86) in the last four games down from their season average of 68.7 percent (263-383). The team shot a season-low 46.2 percent (6-13) Jan. 16 vs. UCLA, its third season low in the category in as many games.

- ASU's seven new players account for 64.1 percent of the team's scoring (746 of 1164 points) and 58.6 percent of the team's rebounding (373 of 636 boards) this year.

- Freshman Kristen Kovesdy is leading the team and ranks third in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage, knocking down 59.5 percent of her shots on the year (72-121). She knocked down her first 16 attempts of the season, including a perfect 7-of-7 performance in ASU's season-opening win over Chicago State, 4-of-4 vs. Northern Illinois and her first five shots vs. Portland State. Kovesdy did not miss her first shot until the 11:59 mark of the second half in that game vs. Portland State, ASU's third game of the year.

- Freshman Jill Noe leads the team and is tied for ninth in the Pac-10 with 59 assists (3.5 per game) so far this year. She is already ninth on the ASU single-season list for assists by a freshman, a record that honorable-mention Pac-10 All-Freshman selection Kylan Loney set last year with 104 assists.

- Through ASU's 17 games, sophomore Kylan Loney is second on the team with 27 three-pointers, surpassing the total of 14 she had all of last year. Freshman Jill Noe ranks first on the team and ninth in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting, knocking down 39.4 percent of her attempts from beyond the arc (28-71) this year, while Loney is ranked second on the team at 36.5 percent (27-74). Loney drilled a career-best and team-high five three-pointers in ASU's Jan. 4 win over Oregon, while Noe has knocked down at least three treys in five games this year.

- The Sun Devil bench has outscored their opponents' reserves in all but five games this year and is averaging 18.2 points per game (310 points).

- This year, Arizona State returns just one starter and six letterwinners from its 2001-02 Pac-10 Tournament Championship and NCAA Tournament squad (with the losses of junior and two-year starter Betsy Boardman and sophomore forward Alexis Tate to season-ending knee injuries) but has added 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 active roster is a young one featuring a junior college transfer, three sophomores and six freshmen.

Turner Thorne Second in All-Time Wins at ASUWith a 101-92 record in her seven years at ASU, head coach Charli Turner Thorne holds sole possession of second place in all-time wins by a Sun Devil women's basketball coach. Turner Thorne earned the 100th win of her ASU career with a 78-63 victory over Oregon on Jan. 4 of this year. 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.

Attendance RecordsWith 7,274 fans in attendance at the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II on Dec. 27, ASU set a school single-game attendance record for Wells Fargo Arena. It also marks the largest crowd to see a Pac-10 women's game so far this year. ASU's overall attendance mark is 16,728 at the first Hoops for the Cure Classic in December of 2000 at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix. The Sun Devils are ranked fifth in the Pac-10 in attendance with 1,950 fans per home game this season.

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