Women's Hoops Opens Pac-10 Season at WSU and UW This Week
Dec. 25, 2004
TEMPE, Ariz. -
Following a 61-50 win over eighth-ranked Connecticut last week, the Arizona State Sun Devils open Pac-10 Conference play this week, traveling to the Pacific Northwest to take on Washington State (4-5) and Washington (4-6). The Sun Devils travel to Pullman to take on the Cougars on Monday, Dec. 27 at Friel Court and then head to Seattle to take on the Huskies on Wednesday, Dec. 29 at Bank of America Arena. With the Dec. 21 victory over UConn, which was the team's second win over a ranked opponent this season, Arizona State improved to 8-2 on the year and won for the seventh time in eight games. This week's trip to the state of Washington wraps up a stretch of four of five games on the road for the Sun Devils, who have turned in a 4-2 mark away from Wells Fargo Arena this year. ASU will be looking to win its first two Pac-10 games for the second season in a row and just the third time in school history. The team is also looking to avenge a loss at Washington State on the last day of the regular season last yea and hopes to snap an eight-game losing streak in Seattle and get its first win at Bank of America Arena since 1996.
Washington State brings a 4-5 record into Monday's game, having dropped its last two contests to Eastern Washington and Valparaiso, while Washington stands at 4-6 overall and has lost five of its last six games, including a 76-74 overtime loss to Colorado on Dec. 21. The Huskies open league action on Monday night, playing host to the Arizona Wildcats.
ASU in Pac-10 OpenersASU holds a 3-15 all-time record in Pac-10 Conference openers since joining the league in 1986-87 (2-6 under head coach Charli Turner Thorne). The team snapped a three-game losing streak in league starters last year with a 68-60 victory over Washington State on Dec. 27, 2003 at Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils followed that win up with an 84-81 overtime victory over Washington on Dec. 29, 2003 to open league play with a 2-0 record for just the second time in school history. The Sun Devils also won their first two Pac-10 games to start the 1999-00 league slate, downing Stanford 74-68 on Jan. 6, 2000 and then defeating California 69-59 on Jan. 8 at Wells Fargo Arena. This year marks just the second time in six years that ASU has not opened Pac-10 play with Stanford.
In the Series With Washington StateArizona State holds a 24-12 advantage in the series with Washington State and has won 13 of the last 14 meetings with the Cougars. Last season, the teams split a pair of meetings with ASU opening Pac-10 play with a 68-61 victory in Tempe on Dec. 27, 2003 and WSU getting a 75-72 victory on Feb. 28, 2003 in Pullman. The series is tied at 9-9 in games played in Pullman with last year's loss snapping ASU's streak of six straight wins on the Palouse.
The Cougars bring a 4-5 record into Monday's game, which is the Pac-10 opener for both teams, and have lost their last two games, falling to Eastern Washington and Valparaiso last week in Pullman. Sophomore guard Adriane Ferguson is leading WSU in scoring at 13.4 points per game, while sophomore forward Katie Benz is averaging 12.3 points and a team-best 9.2 rebounds per contest.
In the Series With WashingtonWashington leads the series with Arizona State 26-13, including a 15-3 advantage in games played in Seattle. The teams split two meetings last year with each team winning on its home floor. The Sun Devils downed the Huskies 84-81 in overtime on Dec. 29, 2003 at Wells Fargo Arena, which marked ASU's sixth win in seven meetings with UW in Tempe, while UW got the best of ASU 63-55 on Feb. 26 in Seattle. This week, Arizona State heads to the Pacific Northwest looking to snap an eight-game losing streak in Seattle with the team's last road win against the Huskies coming with an 81-77 victory on Feb. 3, 1996. That 1995-96 season also marked ASU's last season sweep of the Huskies.
Washington is 4-6 on the year, having dropped its last three games and five of its last six. Most recently, the Huskies fell in overtime to the Colorado Buffaloes 76-74 on Dec. 21 in Seattle. Junior guard Kayla Burt is leading the team in scoring at 10.8 points per game, while sophomore forward Jill Bell is the Huskies' top rebounder at 7.1 boards per game and also adds 7.9 points per game.
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. 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.
Fox Sports Net Arizona and Northwest will televise the Washington game, which marks the third television game of the year for the Sun Devils who are 2-0 in television games this season.
Balanced ScoringThe Sun Devils have gotten balanced scoring so far this year with six different players leading the team in scoring in the team's 10 games. Sophomore Emily Westerberg turned in a season-high 18 points in ASU's Dec. 21 win over No. 8 Connecticut, while junior Amy Denson became the sixth Sun Devil to lead the team in scoring with a season-high 14 points Dec. 18 at New Mexico.
ASU has three players averaging in double figures for scoring with less than one point separating the trio. Senior Kylan Loney is leading the team and ranked 14th in the Pac-10 at 11.6 points per game, while junior Kristen Kovesdy (11.4 ppg) and sophomore Emily Westerberg (11.1 ppg) trail closely behind at 15th and 16th in the league rankings. In ASU's Nov. 27 win over Prairie View A&M, all 13 Sun Devils scored two or more points, while ASU has nine players averaging at least 3.0 points per game this year.
ASU's Leading Scorers in 2004-05Date Opponent Leading ScorerN 11 vs. Virginia Kristen Kovesdy (16 points)N 12 at #3/2 LSU Kylan Loney (12 points)N 20 San Diego Emily Westerberg (17 points)N 26 Seton Hall Betsy Boardman (14 points)N 27 Prairie View A&M Reagan Pariseau (14 points) Kristen Kovesdy (14 points)D 3 Alabama State Kylan Loney (16 points)D 4 Gonzaga Kristen Kovesdy (21 points)D 7 at #11/14 Georgia Kylan Loney (23 points)D 18 at New Mexico Amy Denson (14 points)
Attendance RecordsWith 8,927 fans in attendance at last week's upset of three-time defending NCAA champion Connecticut, Arizona State broke the school single-game women's basketball attendance mark for Wells Fargo Arena. The team set the school single-game attendance record on Dec. 27, 2000 when 16,782 fans showed up to watch the team play Tennessee at Bank One Ballpark in the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic. Prior to ASU's Dec. 21 victory over UConn, the biggest crowd to see a women's basketball game at Wells Fargo Arena came on Dec. 8, 2002 with 7,274 fans at the Notre Dame game in the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II.
Top All-Time WBB Crowds at Wells Fargo Arena1. 8,927 vs. UConn Dec. 21, 20042. 7,274 vs. Notre Dame Dec. 7, 2002 (Hoops for the Cure Classic II)3. 5,379 vs. Arizona Jan. 27, 20014. 5,271 vs. Arizona Feb. 26, 20005. 4,203 vs. Arizona Feb. 8, 19976. 4,110 vs. Arizona Feb. 19, 1993
Home-Court AdvantageWith a 4-0 mark this year including last week's upset of No. 8 UConn, Arizona State has won its last nine home games and 22 of its last 24 in the friendly confines of Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils hold a 66-14 record at home in the last five-plus seasons (.825) and a 43-7 mark over the last three-plus campaigns (.860). The school record for consecutive home wins is 13, set by the Sun Devils over the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons (last eight in 2001-02, first five in 2002-03).
The 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). In 2002-03, ASU went 13-4 at Wells Fargo Arena which matched the school-record 13 victories the 2001-02 team had (13-2).
Road WarriorsAfter finishing with a 4-11 road record last year (4-8 away, 0-3 neutral), the Sun Devils have already turned in a 4-2 mark away from home this season, including an upset at then No. 11/14 Georgia on Dec. 7. Last year, ASU went 3-6 in Pac-10 road games with victories at California, Oregon State and Oregon. The team played six of its last eight games away from Wells Fargo Arena last season, dropping their last six (0-5 away, 0-1 neutral) with their last road win coming on Jan. 24 at Oregon.
Last Time OutSophomore Emily Westerberg had 18 points and junior Kristen Kovesdy added 14 on 6-of-6 shooting as Arizona State upset No. 8/8 Connecticut Dec. 21 at Wells Fargo Arena. It marked the first December loss in 11 years for the three-time defending national champions, snapping a string of 60 straight December victories, while the Sun Devils earned their second win of the year over a ranked opponent.
ASU took an early 6-1 lead, but the Huskies appeared ready to run away with the victory midway through the first half, going on a 10-0 run to take a 17-8 lead with 10:14 to play. The Sun Devils, however, stayed in the game with a pair of clutch three-pointers each by Westerberg and fellow sophomore Alisha Godette. Godette drained a pair on back-to-back possessions to cut the lead to three, while Westerberg scored the final eight points of the half for ASU, including her second trey of the period with seven seconds left to cut the UConn lead to 31-30 at halftime.
In the second half, ASU scored the first eight points to take a seven-point lead of its own, 38-31 with 16:27 to play, but UConn tied the game at 38 less than two minutes later. After two more ties, the Sun Devils took control of the game for good with senior Kylan Loney and sophomore Aubree Johnson hitting a pair of jumpers to go up by four. The Huskies cut the lead to two points three times, but Loney knocked down two free throws with 4:26 left and junior Amy Denson nailed a jumper with 1:46 to play to put the Sun Devils up 54-48. Holding the Huskies to just 19 second-half points, ASU knocked down 7-of-8 free throws over the final minute to seal the win.
UConn senior Ashley Battle led all scorers with 21 points but was the only Husky in double figures. Westerberg scored 12 of her 18 points in the first half and added a game-high three steals, while Kovesdy had 10 of 14 in the second half for ASU. Denson led the Sun Devils with eight rebounds and added seven points and three assists.
Against Ranked OpponentsFollowing the team's 61-50 upset of No. 8/8 Connecticut on Dec. 21, Arizona State now holds a 2-1 record against ranked opponents this season with its loss coming at then No. 3/2 (and now top-ranked) LSU on Nov. 12. The team's 67-57 win at No. 11/14 Georgia on Dec. 7 marked ASU's first victory over a ranked opponent on the road since the Sun Devils defeated then No. 15 USC 64-55 on March 11, 1993.
Last year, the Sun Devils went 2-4 against ranked opponents last year, upsetting then No. 24 Washington 84-81 in overtime on Dec. 27 and No. 7 Stanford 73-53 on Feb. 7, both at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, while in 2002-03, ASU upset three ranked opponents (3-4 mark). ASU's last win over a team ranked in the top five came against then No. 2 Stanford when the Sun Devils upset the Cardinal 70-63 on March 4 in the 2002 Pac-10 Tournament championship game.
In the RankingsArizona State debuted at 23rd in the Associated Press poll and 25th in the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA coaches' poll on Dec. 13 but fell out of the rankings after just one week (loss at New Mexico). That marked the first time that the Sun Devils were ranked in the national top 25 since Jan. 14, 2002 (23rd in AP poll that week). During the 2001-02 season, ASU was ranked in three weeks. That year, the Sun Devils won a school-record 25 games, captured the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
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 seven seasons (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 lead the Pac-10 in rebounding defense (29.0 rebounds per game) and scoring defense (50.0 points per game) and rank second in three-point defense (27.9 percent). ASU has held eight of its 10 opponents under 60 points and tied the school record for fewest points allowed after holding Prairie View A&M to just 30 points on Nov. 27. The very next game, ASU almost tied the school record again with a 71-31 victory over Alabama State. ASU also outrebounded Prairie View A&M by a margin of 43-9 in the victory.
In the last seven seasons (since the start of the 1998-99 season to present), the Sun Devils have allowed opponents to just 62.1 points and 33.8 rebounds per game and 29.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc (11,744 points, 6,379 rebounds, 519-1767 three-pointers, 189 games).
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 then No. 3/2 (and now top-ranked) LSU, the Sun Devils will take on six teams ranked in the most recent polls, including three of the preseason top five squads in the country during the non-conference slate (Georgia, LSU, UConn). The team upset then No. 11/14 Georgia 67-57 in Athens, Ga., on Dec. 7 and then No. 8/8 Connecticut 61-50 on Dec. 21 at Wells Fargo Arena.
Loney Lights It UpSenior guard Kylan Loney continues to lead the Sun Devils and rank 14th in the Pac-10 in scoring at 11.6 points per game. She ranks sixth in the Pac-10 in three-point field goal percentage, knocking down 39.6 percent of her long-range attempts (19-48). In ASU's Dec. 7 upset of No. 11/14 Georgia, Loney tied her career bests with five three-pointers and nine three-point attempts and was named the U.S. Bank Pac-10 Player of the Week for the second time in her career.
Loney, who ranked sixth in the Pac-10 last year at 37.8 percent, was shooting just 16.7 percent from three-point range (2-12) in the first three games of the season. In the last seven games, however, she has knocked down 47.2 percent of her attempts (17-36) and has climbed to 39.6 percent for the season. 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).
Loney has climbed to second on the ASU career list for three-pointers made with 122 and needs just 12 more this season to tie the school record, held by Crystal Cobb who had 134 three-pointers from 1989-94.
Keeping Up with KovesdyJunior forward Kristen Kovesdy ranks second in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage this season, shooting 61.3 percent from the field (49-80). 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. Kovesdy already ranks second on the Arizona State career field goal percentage chart at 54.5 percent (258-473).
Kovesdy ranks second on the team and 15th in the Pac-10 in scoring at 11.4 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 and tied freshman Reagan Pariseau for the team lead with 14 points in ASU's win over Prairie View A&M on Nov. 27 in San Antonio. She turned in a season-high 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting in the win against Gonzaga in the championship game of the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic on Dec. 4. Last week against No. 8 UConn, she finished second on the team with 14 points, going 6-of-6 from the field.
A Little Help From Their FriendsArizona State leads the Pac-10 with an average of 17.4 assists per game. In the last six games, the Sun Devils have averaged 19.2 assists per contest, including a season-high 30 Nov. Prairie View A&M. In those six games, ASU has had an assist on 73.7 percent of its field goals made (115-156), including 17 of 21 Dec. 21 vs. UConn.
Junior forward Amy Denson is leading the team and ranked 10th in the Pac-10 with 3.0 assists per game, including a career-best seven in ASU's Nov. 27 win over Prairie View. Denson has continued to improve her passing in each of her three seasons at ASU. 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. Senior Kylan Loney is second on the team with 2.8 assists per game, including a season-high six Dec. 4 against Gonzaga. With 324 assists in her four years at ASU, she is ranked eighth on the ASU career lists and should finish her career in the top five.
Early-Season Quick Hits
... As of Dec. 24, ASU's unofficial RPI was seventh and the team's strength of schedule was ninth (www.collegerpi.com).
... The Sun Devils are also getting balanced rebounding this season with seven different players leading the team in the category in at least one game. Seven Sun Devils are averaging at least 2.0 boards per game.
... At only 5-9, senior guard Carrie Buckner is ASU's top rebounder with 4.4 boards per contest. In the last three games, Buckner has averaged 6.0 rebounds, including seven each against Georgia and New Mexico and four in last week's win over UConn. Junior Amy Denson trails closely behind at 4.3 rebounds per game, including a season-high eight last week against the eighth-ranked Huskies.
... Sophomore Emily Westerberg continues to be outstanding from the charity stripe and is leading the team and ranked fourth in the Pac-10 in free throw shooting at 89.7 percent (35-39), including a 6-fot-6 effort last week against UConn.
... As a team, ASU made a season-high 90.0 percent of its free throw attempts (9-10) Dec. 18 at New Mexico and is ranked fifth in the Pac-10 in free throw shooting this season at 68.3 percent.
... The Sun Devils turned in season lows for scoring (45 points), field goal shooting (29.5 percent), three-pointers made (0), free throws and attempts (9-10) and rebounds (28) in their Dec. 18 loss at New Mexico. That loss snapped ASU's six-game winning streak, which was the longest since the team turned in seven straight non-conference victories during the 2001-02 season.
... Prior to shooting 29.5 percent Dec. 18 at New Mexico, ASU had been leading the Pac-10 in field goal percentage this year at 47.0 percent and is now fourth in the league at 44.7 percent. Prior to New Mexico, ASU had shot 49.4 percent from the field in its previous four games, including a season-high 62.3 percent (38-61) Nov. 27 against Prairie View A&M.
... Seniors Kylan Loney and Betsy Boardman rank second (122) and third (119) on the Arizona State career list for three-pointers made. On Dec. 7 at No. 11/14 Georgia, the pair passed honorable-mention All-American Amanda Levens who is now fourth on the list with 117 three-pointers in her career (2000-02). Crystal Cobb holds the ASU career record with 134 treys (1990-94).
... ASU has shot just 19.0 percent from three-point land in its last two games (4-21), including a season-low 0-for-9 effort Dec. 18 at New Mexico. In the previous five games, the Sun Devils had shot 53.6 percent from three-point land (30-56), including a season-high 60.0 percent in their Nov. 27 win over Prairie View A&M. ASU tied the school record with nine three-pointers made in the game vs. the Lady Panthers. ASU knocked down 50.0 percent of its three-pointers (7-14). Dec. 7 at then No. 11/14 Georgia.
... The Sun Devils have climbed to third in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting at 36.7 percent (36-97). Last year, the team finished fifth in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting (33.8 percent) but shot just 20.0 percent from beyond the arc in their first three games this year (6-30).
... Freshman Reagan Pariseau would be tied for second in the Pac-10 at 50.0 percent (6-12) from three-point land, including a 4-of-5 effort Nov. 27 against Prairie View, but falls short of the league minimum of 1.0 made per game.
... After averaging 25.0 turnovers per game in its first three contests, Arizona State has turned the ball over just 16.9 times in its last seven including a season-low 13 Nov. 26 against Seton Hall.
... The team is forcing an average of 25.8 turnovers per game by its opponents this season and ranks third in the Pac-10 in turnover margin (+6.5).
... ASU ranks fourth in the Pac-10 with 12.2 steals per game 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 eight of its 10 games this year and turned in a season-high 19 steals in its Nov. 20 win over San Diego with four Sun Devils turning in three steals apiece in the victory.
... Senior Carrie Buckner is leading the team and ranked sixth in the Pac-10 with 2.6 steals per game. She has averaged 3.0 steals per game in the last five games, including a season-high five in ASU's Dec. 4 win over Gonzaga and four Dec. 18 at New Mexico.
... 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 131-114 record in eight seasons at ASU, Turner Thorne needs just three 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 NextAfter this week's Pac-10 season-opening games at Washington State and Washington, the Sun Devils return to Wells Fargo Arena, where they have won nine straight games, for a three-game homestand. ASU will play host to intrastate rival Arizona on Monday, Jan. 3, while the following weekend, No. 2/2 Stanford and California visit Tempe. The Sun Devils will play host to the Cardinal on Friday, Jan. 7 and the Golden Bears on Sunday, Jan. 9 at Wells Fargo Arena.