Women's Hoops to Open Regular Season Friday Night vs. Akron

Nov. 18, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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After a pair of wins in the exhibition season, eighth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne and her Arizona State Sun Devils open the 28th season of Sun Devil women's basketball on Friday night, playing host to the Akron Zips at 7:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena in the season opener for both squads. The Sun Devils then continue their season-opening weekend on Sunday night, taking on the Grambling State Lady Tigers at 6:30 p.m. Arizona State looks to win its sixth straight season opener and its first two games for the sixth consecutive year as well. After opening the season with this weekend's home game, the Sun Devils head to Grand Bahama Island for the 2003 Junkanoo Jam where they will take on No. 8/5 Kansas State in their first game on Nov. 28 and either No. 9/8 Penn State or George Washington in the second game.

This year, Arizona State, which is ranked 35th by womenscollegehoops.com and receiving votes in both national polls, returns four starters (with the loss of sophomore Jill Noe, a 2003 Pac-10 All-Freshman selection who led the team in scoring last year, to an ACL tear) and eight letterwinners from its 2002-03 squad which turned in a 16-14 record, upset three ranked opponents and advanced to the second round of the 2003 Women's National Invitation Tournament. The Sun Devils also regain the services of junior Betsy Boardman, who started all 64 games of her first two years and missed all of last season with an ACL tear, and add a recruiting class of three true freshmen that was ranked as high as eighth in the nation. The 2003-04 Sun Devil active roster is still a young one featuring just one senior, four juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen.

Good StartsThe Sun Devils won their first five games last season, turning in the team's first 5-0 start since 1991-92, while the team's 8-1 non-conference record was the best start since that 1991-92 team turned in a 9-1 non-conference mark. Arizona State has opened the season with back-to-back wins in each of the last five seasons, a streak dating back to 1998-99, and will attempt to win its sixth straight season opener this week against Akron.

Canned Food DriveArizona State will hold a canned food drive at its season opener vs. Akron on Friday. Fans will receive free admission to the game with the donation of a non-perishable food item. The collected food items will be donated to the St. Vincent de Paul. Fans can bring their food items to the East or West Entrance of Wells Fargo Arena to redeem for free admission to the game.

Notes from the Exhibition SeasonThe Sun Devils won both of their exhibition games this season, turning in a 92-41 victory over Latvian Select on Nov. 6 and a 77-57 win over the West Coast All-Stars on Nov. 15...ASU is now 10-6 in exhibition games under eighth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne...junior Carrie Buckner had 16 points, eight rebounds and six steals to lead Arizona State vs. Latvian Select...junior Betsy Boardman scored 15 points to lead ASU to its win over the West Coast All-Stars, while Buckner and sophomore Jenny Thigpin each grabbed a team-high seven rebounds in the contest...Buckner shot 55.6 percent from the field (10-18) and averaged 12.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in the two exhibition contests...sophomore YoVanna Rosenthal nabbed 5.0 steals per game, including six thefts against Latvian Select, while junior Lauren Stagg averaged 5.0 assists per game to lead the Sun Devils...Stagg shot 83.3 percent from the field (5-6) and had 10 assists with only one turnover and five steals in the two games.

About AkronAkron returns one starter and eight letterwinners from its 2-26 team last year, including junior guard Lindsay Hemmelgarn who averaged 9.3 points per game last season. The Zips turned in a 66-59 victory over Findlay in their first exhibition game Nov. 8 and fell to Ashland University 89-76 in their final exhibition contest Nov. 12.

Arizona State holds a 1-0 record in the series with Akron, earning an 82-43 victory last year on Dec. 18 in Akron. Freshman Jill Noe had 16 points to lead four Sun Devils in double figures for scoring in that game last year. The Sun Devils hold a 6-1 record against schools from the Mid-American Conference, winning three games over MAC opponents last year (Akron, Kent State and Northern Illinois).

About Grambling StateSenior guard Scherwanda Boston is the top returning scorer and rebounder for Grambling State after averaging 10.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season. The Lady Tigers turned in a 18-10 overall record last year, while their 14-4 conference record was good for third in the Southwestern Athletic Conference last season. Grambling will open the season on Nov. 21 against Tougaloo College before heading to Tempe on Nov. 23.

Sunday's game will mark the first meeting between Arizona State and Grambling State, while it will also be the Sun Devils' first game against a team from the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Home-Court AdvantageThe Sun Devils will play five of their first seven games of the year at Wells Fargo Arena where the team has won a school-record 13 games in each of the last two seasons. Last year, ASU turned in a 13-4 record which matched the school-record 13 victories the 2001-02 team had (13-2). The Sun Devils won their first five home games in 2002-03 to set a school record with 13 straight home wins, a streak that dated back to the last eight home games of the 2001-02 season. Arizona State has turned in a 49-13 record at Wells Fargo Arena in the last four seasons.

Up NextThe Sun Devils hit the road next week, traveling to Grand Bahama Island for the Junkanoo Jam over Thanksgiving weekend. ASU will take on Kansas State in its first game in the Bahamas on Friday, Nov. 28 and will either play Penn State or George Washington in its second game on Saturday, Nov. 29. The Sun Devils return home after their stay in the Bahamas to play host to the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic Dec. 5-6 in Tempe, a tournament featuring ASU, Binghamton, Montana State and Western Michigan.

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