Women's Hoops Heads To No. 1 UConn and Holy Cross

Dec. 16, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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After taking a week off for finals, the Arizona State Sun Devils return to action this week, wrapping up the non-conference slate to the East Coast to take on two-time defending NCAA champion and top-ranked Connecticut (6-0) on Thursday, Dec. 18 and Holy Cross (4-4) on Saturday, Dec. 20. Both games tip off at 7 p.m. Eastern Time (5 p.m. Mountain) and can be heard locally on NBC 1190 AM. The UConn game will be televised statewide by AZ-TV. Arizona State (5-2) has won its last three games and all five of its home games this season. As they head east, the Sun Devils will be looking to snap a six-game road losing streak (dating back to the last six games of last year) and end a streak of eight straight losses away from Wells Fargo Arena including this year's neutral-site losses at the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas. Following this week's games, Arizona State will take six days off for the holidays before opening its Pac-10 Conference schedule at Wells Fargo Arena on Dec. 27 against Washington State and Dec. 29 against No. 23 Washington.

In the SeriesThursday night's game between Arizona State and No. 1 Connecticut will mark the first meeting between the two teams, while the Sun Devils hold a 6-3 all-time record against teams from the Big East Conference. UConn holds a 6-0 record this season, most recently escaping with a 72-69 victory at USC on Dec. 7 to extend its consecutive regular-season winning streak to 73. The Huskies have won 67 straight home games and have had 100 consecutive sell-outs including 23 straight at the Hartford Civic Center (16,294) where the two teams will play on Thursday night.

Arizona State holds a 1-0 record in the series against Holy Cross, winning the only previous meeting between the two teams with a 67-49 victory at the Northern Lights Tournament in Anchorage, Alaska on Dec. 19, 1995. The Sun Devils hold a 3-0 advantage against teams from the Patriot League. Holy Cross is 4-4 this year, most recently downing Siena 59-58 in Worcester, Mass., on Dec. 11.

Against Ranked OpponentsASU's game at No. 1 Connecticut will mark the team's first game against the nation's top-ranked team since falling to then No. 1 and eventual national champion USC 72-70 on Jan. 14, 1983. The Sun Devils are 0-1 this season against ranked opponents, falling to then No. 9/8 Kansas State 59-50 earlier this season. ASU's last victory over a team ranked in the national top five came during the the 2001-02 season when the Sun Devils upset then No. 2 Stanford 70-63 on March 4 in the championship game of the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament. ASU turned in a 3-4 mark against ranked opponents last season, turning in upsets of three ranked opponents including wins over No. 14 Georgia, No. 19 Arizona and No. 20 Washington.

Wiping the GlassArizona State currently leads the Pac-10 Conference in rebounding offense, offensive rebounds, rebounding defense and rebounding margin. The Sun Devils have outrebounded all but one of their opponents this season (Kansas State) and are averaging 44.7 boards per game to just 30.0 for their opponents. In the last three games, ASU has outrebounded its opponents by an average of 18.7 boards per game. On the offensive glass, the team is averaging 18.3 rebounds per game, including a season-high 28 against Western Michigan on Dec. 5. Defensively, ASU has held its opponents to just 8.9 offensive rebounds per game, including a season-low seven by George Washington Nov. 29.

Individually, ASU is one of just two schools in the Pac-10 to have three players ranked in the league's top 20 in the category. Sophomore Kristen Kovesdy is the team's top rebounder, ranking 14th in the Pac-10 at 5.9 rebounds per game, including a team season-high 12 in ASU's win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 10. Junior Betsy Boardman ranks 15th in the league at 5.8 boards per game, while sophomore Amy Denson is 20th at 5.3 rebounds per contest. A total of five Sun Devils are averaging at least 5.0 rebounds per game this year.

Kovesdy Coming On StrongSophomore forward Kristen Kovesdy has come on strong in the last three games. She turned in the fourth double-double of her career and her first of the season with a career-high 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting and 12 rebounds in ASU's Dec. 10 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. She set a career high with nine field goals made and tied her career best with 12 FG attempts and was just one rebound shy of tying her career best in that category.

After starting the season shooting just 19.0 percent in the first four games (4-21), Kovesdy has made 81.3 percent of her field goals in the last three (13-16). She has averaged 10.0 points per game in the last three contests. Kovesdy is leading the team and ranked 14th in the Pac-10 at 5.9 rebounds per game and has had an average of 9.0 boards per game in the last two.

Tough DefenseArizona State has established itself as one of the top defensive teams in the Pac-10 Conference. The Sun Devils have led the league in at least one defensive category in each of the last five years (1998-present) and are pacing the Pac-10 in rebounding defense (30.0 rpg) this season. The team also ranks third in the league in scoring defense this year, allowing just 57.1 points per game. ASU led the Pac-10 in three-point defense in each of the last two years and four of the last five seasons, allowing opponents to shoot just 30.1 percent from beyond the arc in that five-year span (426-1414). The Sun Devils led the league in scoring and rebounding defense in both 2000-01 and 2001-02 and have held opponents to just 62.2 points and 34.1 rebounds per game over the last five-plus seasons (9826 points and 5391 rebounds, 158 games from 1998-99 to present). In addition to leading the league in three-point defense (.297), the Sun Devils finished second in rebounding defense (33.6) and third in scoring defense (61.8) last season.

Home-Court AdvantageThe Sun Devils have won all five of their home games so far this season and a total of six straight games at Wells Fargo Arena where the team has won a school-record 13 games in each of the last two seasons. Including this year's five wins, ASU has won 10 of its last 11 home games dating back to a Jan. 23 win over then No. 19 Arizona last season. 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 54-13 record at Wells Fargo Arena in the last four-plus seasons (1999-00 to present).

While ASU has won its last six home games (five this year), the team will be looking to snap a six-game road losing streak dating back to the last six road contests of last season as the team heads to UConn and Holy Cross this week. Counting its two neutral-site games this year in the Bahamas, ASU has lost its last eight games away from the friendly confines of Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils' last road win came on Jan. 11, 2003 when the team turned in a 66-58 victory over Washington State in Pullman.

Quick Notes

- In its current three-game winning streak, ASU has averaged 78.3 points and shot 45.7 percent from the field (86-188) after averaging just 47.5 points and shooting 31.5 percent (34-108) in the previous two games (both losses).

- ASU's bench is turning in an average of 31.9 points per game. Sophomore YoVanna Rosenthal is the team's leading scorer off the bench at 7.9 points per game, while true freshmen Alisha Godette (5.6 pp), Aubree Johnson (5.6) and Emily Westerberg (5.4) are all turning solid scoring efforts in relief as well.

- Rosenthal continues to make the most of her minutes, averaging 7.9 points, 3.1 assists and 2.4 steals in just 16.4 minutes per game. She had two of the best games of her career in the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic on Dec. 5-6, averaging 9.5 points, 3.0 steals and 2.5 assists in just 13.0 minutes per game. She also shot 52.9 percent from the field on the weekend (9-17) en route to being named to the all-tournament team. Rosenthal leads the team in assists (22) and steals (17) and is tied for fourth in the Pac-10 in steals (2.4 thefts per game).

- Arizona State is leading the Pac-10 with an average of 18.9 assists per game. Junior Carrie Buckner paces the team with 3.4 assists per game (8th in the Pac-10) and owns the league's third-best assist-to-turnover ratio (2.40).

- The Sun Devils shot a season-high 55.2 percent (32-58) and knocked down a season-best 32 field goals in their Dec. 10 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. While ASU scored 87 points, which was just two points shy of the team's season high (89 vs. Grambling State on Nov. 23), ASU also gave up a season-high 74 points to the Islanders.

- Arizona State won its first two games this season, marking the sixth straight season that the team has opened the year with back-to-back victories.

Up NextFollowing its games at top-ranked Connecticut and Holy Cross this week, the Sun Devils will take six days off for the holidays before returning home to open Pac-10 Conference play on Dec. 27 and 29. Arizona State will play host to Washington State at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 27 and continue league play with Washington at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 29.

The Sun Devils will host a Baby Diaper Drive to benefit Homeward Bound at its Dec. 27 league opener with Washington State. Fans bringing a donation of diapers, baby wipes or formula will receive free admission to the game against the Cougars.

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