Women's Hoops Travels to San Antonio for the UTSA Thanksgiving Classic

Nov. 23, 2004

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Following a 70-45 victory over San Diego last week, the Arizona State Sun Devils hit the road for their second tournament of the season, traveling to San Antonio, Texas, for the UTSA Thanksgiving Classic. ASU will take on Seton Hall (1-1) in its first game on Friday and Prairie View A&M (1-0) in the second round Saturday in the tournament, which is being hosted by the University of Texas-San Antonio at the 5,100-seat Convocation Center. The Sun Devils are 2-1 on the year after opening the season with a win over Virginia and a loss at No. 3/2 LSU at the Women's Sports Foundation Classic and earning their sixth straight home victory last Saturday against the Toreros. Following the two games in San Antonio, Arizona State will return home for the ASU Holiday Classic on Dec. 3-4 before playing four of the team's next five games on the road, including a trip to Athens, Ga., to take on No. 3/3 Georgia on Dec. 7. The Sun Devils' only home game in that stretch will be a Dec. 21 matchup with three-time defending national champion and eighth-ranked Connecticut at Wells Fargo Arena.

In the SeriesFriday's game will mark the first meeting between Arizona State and Seton Hall, while the Sun Devils hold a 6-4 all-time record against teams from the Big East Conference. ASU will also have a first meeting with Prairie View A&M in the team's second game on Saturday. The Sun Devils won their only previous meeting with a school from the Southwestern Athletic Conference (Grambling State in 2003-04) and will take on another SWAC team, Alabama State, in the first round of next week's ASU Holiday Classic.

Seton Hall returns three starters and 10 letterwinners from last season's 15-15 team including senior forward Ashley Bush who is averaging 16.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game this year after leading the team in points, rebounds and steals last season. Sophomore forward Monique Blake, a 2004 Big East All-Freshman team selection, is averaging 15.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in two games this year. The Pirates are 1-1 this year, opening the season with a 60-54 win over La Salle and falling to Ball State 71-69 at the Aeropostale Seton Hall Basketball Classic last week.

Prairie View A&M brings back three starters and eight letterwinners from its 5-21 squad last year. The Lady Panthers are 1-0 after opening the year with a 73-52 victory over Paul Quinn College on Nov. 22. Sophomore forward Previce Price led the team with 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting and had 10 rebounds, while freshman forward Ashley Gulley scored 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

ExposureAll of Arizona State's games will be broadcast live or on tape delay on NBC 1190 AM with 28-year Valley broadcaster Jeff Munn (play-by-play) and Phoenix Mercury general manager Seth Sulka (color) calling the action. Former ASU play-by-play announcer Vince Marotta will fill in for Munn this weekend at the UTSA Thanksgiving Classic. Munn, who is a fill-in radio play-by-play announcer for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the club's public address announcer, is in the first year of his second stint as ASU's play-by-play voice. All of ASU's radio broadcasts are also available live on the internet at www.thesundevils.com.

Home-Court AdvantageThe Sun Devils turned in a 13-1 record at Wells Fargo Arena last year, tying the school record for home wins for the third consecutive year and setting the school mark for home winning percentage in a season (.929). Including last week's win over San Diego in the team's home opener, ASU has won its last six home games and 19 of its last 21 home games. The Sun Devils hold a 63-14 record at Wells Fargo Arena in the last five-plus seasons (.818) and a 40-7 mark over the last three-plus campaigns (.851). In 2002-03, ASU turned in a 13-4 record which matched the school-record 13 victories the 2001-02 team had (13-2).

Last Time OutSophomore Emily Westerberg scored 17 points to lead Arizona State to a 70-45 victory over San Diego last Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena. San Diego took a 12-2 lead with 14:37 to play in the first half as ASU missed nine of its first 10 shots and turned the ball over five times. The Toreros continued to control the game for the next three minutes and led 17-8 with 11:17 left in the first half. The Sun Devils went on a 19-2 run over the next eight minutes to take a lead the team would not relinquish.

Westerberg, who had 13 of her 17 points in the first half, scored nine straight points during that run as ASU tied the game at 19-19 with 5:40 to play. The Sun Devils scored the next eight points to take a 27-19 lead with 3:22 remaining, a stretch that was capped off by the first career three-pointer by sophomore Aubree Johnson. ASU scored the last seven points of the first half to take a 34-21 halftime advantage.

The Sun Devils scored the first seven points of the second half to go up 40-21 with 16:59 to play. led by as many as 26 four minutes later after a pair of steals by junior Amy Denson and back-to-back layups by junior Kristen Kovesdy. ASU shot 53.3 percent in the second half and led by as many as 27 late in the half en route to the 70-45 victory.

Westerberg led all scorers with 17 points, knocking down 5-of-9 attempts from the field and 7-of-9 from the free throw line, while Denson added 13 points for the Sun Devils. Johnson and Kovesdy each had nine points, and senior Carrie Buckner led the team with six rebounds. Four Sun Devils turned in three steals apiece for the team, which forced 31 San Diego turnovers. ASU outshot San Diego 43.8 percent to 40.5 and outrebounded the Toreros 40-28.

A Look at the 2004-05 SeasonNinth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne, the second winningest coach in school history, and the Sun Devils return 11 letterwinners, including all five starters, from last year's 17-12 squad. This season, ASU looks to extend a streak that has seen the team advance to the postseason for a school-record five consecutive seasons. ASU's roster features four seniors this year in guards Betsy Boardman, Lauren Stagg, Carrie Bucker and Kylan Loney. Loney was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection last season after leading the team in assists and three-point shooting. The Sun Devils also return a talented group of four juniors and three sophomores who have made significant contributions in the last two years, including 2004 honorable-mention All-Pac-10 selection Kristen Kovesdy and Pac-10 All-Freshman honoree Emily Westerberg. Joining the returners are redshirt freshman Jacquelyn Johnson and true freshman Reagan Pariseau. Johnson was the 2004 Pac-10 Track and Field Newcomer of the Year after winning NCAA and Pac-10 heptathlon titles last season, while Pariseau was the MVP of the Greater Spokane League last year at Central Valley High School in Spokane, Wash.

Tough SlateArizona State has put together one of the toughest schedules in the nation this season. The Sun Devils will take on eight teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year, including a Dec. 21 match-up with three-time defending NCAA champion Connecticut. Including a Nov. 12 game at No. 3/2 LSU, the Sun Devils will take on five teams ranked in the preseason polls, including three of the preseason top five squads in the country during the non-conference slate. The team travels to No. 3/3 Georgia on Dec. 7 and will then play host to No. 8/8 Connecticut on Dec. 21 at Wells Fargo Arena. Two Pac-10 teams - No. 7/5 Stanford and No. 25/24 Arizona - are ranked with ASU, Oregon, USC, UCLA and Washington receiving votes.

Getting It Done on 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 six years (1998-99 to present). Last year, ASU paced the Pac-10 in rebounding defense (32.2 rpg) and three-point field goal defense (30.4 percent allowed) and finished second in scoring defense (61.1 ppg). By allowing just 32.2 rebounds per game, ASU set a school record for rebounding defense in 2003-04, besting the previous low of 33.3 by the 2001-02 Pac-10 Tournament champion squad. ASU also led the Pac-10 in three-point defense for the third straight year and the fifth time in six seasons.

This season, the Sun Devils are allowing their opponents just 53.3 points and 29.7 rebounds per game. ASU is also holding opponents to just 15.4 percent shooting from three-point range (2-13) and limiting teams to just 9.7 offensive rebounds per game.

In the last six-plus seasons (since the start of the 1998-99 season to present), the Sun Devils have allowed opponents to just 62.6 points and 33.9 rebounds per game and 29.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc (11,457 points, 6,207 rebounds, 504-1720 three-pointers, 183 games).

Early-Season Quick Hits

... Junior forward Kristen Kovesdy is leading the team in scoring at 11.0 points per game this season. She paced the team with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting in ASU's season-opening victory over Virginia on Nov. 11. Kovesdy, who already ranks third on the Arizona State career field goal percentage chart at 54.1 percent (224-414), has shot a blazing 71.4 percent from the field (15-21) this year. She finished second in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage last year at 55.7 percent, the seventh-best season effort by a Sun Devil.

... In its three games this season, Arizona State has turned in 61.3 points and 34.0 rebounds per contest and has shot 42.7 percent (67-157), including 46.7 percent in the second half (35-75).

... Senior Kylan Loney and sophomore Emily Westerberg are tied for second in scoring at 10.7 points per game each. Westerberg had a game-high 17 points in last week's win over San Diego and has made 82.4 percent of her free throw attempts this year (14-17).

... Junior Amy Denson is ASU's leading rebounder with 5.7 boards per tilt in ASU's three regular-season games, including a team-high eight in the season-opening win over Virginia. Denson led the team in rebounding in four games last year and paced the squad in the category in Pac-10 play (4.7 rpg).

... Denson also paces the squad with eight assists in the three games (2.7 per contest). Last year, she nearly doubled her assists total from her freshman year, averaging 1.5 assists per game compared to 0.8 in her rookie season.

... ASU has averaged 14.0 steals per game in its three regular-season contests this year after finishing third in the Pac-10 in the category last season (10.0 steals per game). The Sun Devils reached double figures for steals in 19 of 29 games last year with a season high of 17. Arizona State has been in double figures for steals in each of its three games this year and turned in a season-high 19 steals in last week's win over San Diego with four Sun Devils turning in three steals apiece in the victory.

... After finishing fifth in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting last year at 33.8 percent, the Sun Devils are shooting just 20.0 percent from beyond the arc through three games this year (6-30). Senior Kylan Loney, who ranked sixth in the Pac-10 last year at 37.8 percent, is shooting just 16.7 percent from three-point range (2-12). Loney had a similar start last year, shooting 15.4 percent in the first five games and lighting it up for 41.0 percent in the last 24 contests (41-100).

... Senior guard Kylan Loney and junior forward Kristen Kovesdy were named to the all-tournament team as the Sun Devils finished second at the Women's Sports Foundation Classic Nov. 11-12 in Baton Rouge, La. ASU defeated Virginia 60-50 in its first-round matchup and fell to then No. 3/2 LSU 65-54 in the championship game.

... ASU's Nov. 11 game with Virginia tied for the earliest start in school history. The Sun Devils also opened the season on Nov. 11 in 1978-79. The contest against the Cavaliers also marked the first time that ASU had begun a campaign on the road since the 1995-96 Sun Devil squad went to Ames, Iowa for the Cyclone Classic.

Turner Thorne Second in All-Time Wins at ASUWith a 125-113 record in eight seasons at ASU, Turner Thorne needs just nine wins to tie the school record for victories. Juliene Simpson is currently the all-time winningest coach in Arizona State women's basketball history, notching a 134-92 mark in eight seasons in Tempe (1979-87).

Turner Thorne has led her Sun Devils to a school-record five consecutive postseason bids including WNIT appearances in 2000, 2003 and 2004 and ASU's first back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 20 years in 2001 and 2002. ASU previously had advanced to postseason play in three straight seasons (NWIT runner-up in 1981, NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 1982 and 1983). After a 17-12 mark in 2003-04, Turner Thorne became only the second coach in school history to lead the Sun Devils to four consecutive winning seasons. The last time ASU had four straight winning campaigns was under Juliene Simpson from 1980-81 to 1983-84.

Since Turner Thorne took over the reins of the program in 1996-97, the Sun Devils have regained the national prominence 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, advanced to the NCAA Tournament and won the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament Championship.

ASU Picked Fourth in Preseason Pac-10 PollsArizona State has been picked to finish fourth in the Pac-10 Conference by the media and the league's coaches. It marks the fourth time in five years that ASU has been picked to finish in the upper half of the Pac-10. Last year, ASU was picked fourth by the media and fifth by the coaches and ended up in a tie for third place in the final league standings.

March MadnessArizona State University and Wells Fargo Arena have been selected to host the Tempe Regional of the 2005 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship. ASU will play host to games on March 26 and 28 in Tempe. Tickets for the NCAA Tempe Regional are on sale now at the ASU ticket office, by calling (480) 965-2381 or by logging on to www.thesundevils.com.

Up NextFollowing this week's games in San Antonio, Arizona State will return home on Friday-Saturday, Dec. 3-4 for its own ASU Holiday Classic. The Sun Devils will play Alabama State in their first game and either Gonzaga or Nevada in their second. The Sun Devils have won their own tournament in each of the last three seasons. Last year, Betsy Boardman was the MVP and Kylan Loney and YoVanna Rosenthal were named to the all-tournament team as ASU downed Western Michigan and Binghamton to capture the tournament title.

After their tournament, the Sun Devils will play four of their next five games on the road, traveling to No. 3/5 Georgia on Dec. 7 and New Mexico on Dec. 18 and opening the Pac-10 Conference season on the road at Washington State and Washington on Dec. 27 and 29, respectively. The team's only home game in that stretch is a Dec. 21 game with No. 8/8 Connecticut at Wells Fargo Arena.

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