Women's Hoops Heads to San Jose for 2005 Pac-10 Tournament
March 1, 2005
TEMPE, Ariz. -
With a 20-8 overall record, the Arizona State University Sun Devils head to San Jose, Calif., for the 2005 State Farm Pac-10 Conference Tournament this weekend. As the No. 3 seed in the tournament, ASU will take on sixth-seeded UCLA (16-11 overall) in the quarterfinals on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. Pacific (12 p.m. Mountain) at HP Pavilion in a rematch of last year's quarterfinal matchup. The winner of the ASU-UCLA game will play on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Pacific against the winner of a contest between second-seeded Oregon and either Washington or Oregon State (who play Friday night in the 7-10 game). Winners of their last three games and six of their last seven, the Sun Devils have turned in the seventh 20-win season in school history and the third under ninth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne. With a 12-6 Pac-10 mark, ASU tied for second in the league and matched the school record for Pac-10 victories. It also marked the fourth time in five years that the Sun Devils have finished in the top half of the Pac-10 standings. This weekend, ASU heads to San Jose looking to win its first game in the league tournament since capturing the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament championship in 2002.
ExposureAll of ASU's games in the 2005 Pac-10 Tournament will be broadcast live on KDUS 1060 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 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.
In the Series with UCLAUCLA holds a 39-16 advantage in the series with ASU, including 1-0 advantage in Pac-10 Tournament games. The Sun Devils swept the series with the Bruins this season for only the third time in school history, including a 44-42 victory over then No. 19 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 14 and an 80-59 win at Wells Fargo Arena on Feb. 12. The two teams split a pair of regular-season meetings in 2003-04 with each squad winning on its home floor, while the Bruins won the rubber match last season, earning a 70-50 victory on March 6 in the quarterfinals of the 2004 Pac-10 Tournament. Prior to this year's two Sun Devil victories, UCLA had gotten the best of the recent series, winning four of the previous five contests with ASU.
Sixth-seeded UCLA brings a 16-11 overall mark into Saturday's night game with the Sun Devils, losing its last two games and four of the last five contests. The Bruins finished sixth in the Pac-10 standings with a 10-8 league record (third place in the league standings) this season. UCLA, which has been without the services of sophomore Noelle Quinn (16.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg) since Jan. 16 due to a knee injury, fell at USC 80-77 on Feb. 26 in the team's regular-season finale. Four Bruins are averaging in double figures for scoring including senior Nikki Blue (16.2 ppg) and junior Lisa Willis (15.9 ppg) who are fourth and fifth in the league statistics, respectively. Willis leads the team and ranks fifth in the league in rebounding with 6.9 boards per contest.
ASU in the Pac-10 TournamentArizona State holds a 3-2 mark in Pac-10 Conference Tournament games and heads into the weekend looking to get a victory after dropping its tournament opener in each of the last two seasons. This year marks the second time that ASU has earned the No. 3 seed in the four-year history of the league event.
Last year, Kristen Kovesdy scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds for the fifth-seeded Sun Devils, but it wasn't enough to stop red-hot UCLA, which won for the eighth time in nine games with a 70-50 decision on March 6. That contest marked ASU's first without leading scorer Betsy Boardman who had torn her second ACL in 18 months on the last day of the regular season. In 2003, the eighth-seeded Sun Devils fell to California 46-38 on March 7 in San Jose, while the third-seeded Sun Devils captured the first ever Pac-10 Tournament championship in 2002 in Eugene, Ore. ASU defeated Arizona, Oregon and then No. 2 Stanford that season at Oregon's McArthur Court en route to the inaugural tournament championship.
20-Win SeasonsWith their Feb. 26 win over Washington State on Saturday, the Sun Devils improved to 20-8 overall and turned in the seventh 20-win season in school history and the first since the team tied the school record for single-season victories with a 25-9 record in 2001-02. It also marked the third 20-win campaign for ninth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne.
Pac-10 VictoriesWith a 12-6 league mark this year, the Sun Devils have tied their school record for Pac-10 wins. It also marks the sixth time in school history that ASU has reached double figures for Pac-10 wins (four times under Charli Turner Thorne). ASU also won a school-record 12 Pac-10 games two other times, capturing a share of the 2001 Pac-10 championship and matching that mark in 2002 before going onto win the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament.
The Sun Devils finished in a three-way tie for second place in the Pac-10 standings this season, marking the fourth time in five years that the team has finished in the top half of the Pac-10 standings. ASU was picked to finish fourth in the Pac-10 by the media and the league's coaches in this year's preseason poll. Last season, ASU was picked fourth by the media and fifth by the coaches and ended up in a tie for third with an 11-7 mark in Pac-10 action.
More Balanced Than A ScaleThe Sun Devils have gotten balanced scoring so far this year with eight different players leading the team in scoring in the team's 28 games. Last week, senior Lauren Stagg became the eight Sun Devil to lead the team in scoring with a career-best 11 points, while sophomore Aubree Johnson and junior Kristen Kovesdy each turned in 14 points to lead ASU past Washington on Feb. 24. That marked a career high in scoring for Johnson and was the first time that she has led the team in scoring this season. Junior Amy Denson came off the bench to lead the team in scoring in the two previous games and has paced the squad five times this year. She turned in a season-best 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting Feb. 17 at Oregon and then bested that mark two days later, tying her career high with 18 points Feb. 19 at Oregon State.
ASU has two players averaging in double figures and ranked in the Pac-10's top 20 for scoring (and another just under 10 points per game) with less than two points separating the trio. Sophomore Emily Westerberg is leading the team and ranked 11th in the league at 11.4 points per game, while junior Kristen Kovesdy checks in at 13th in the Pac-10 at 10.8 points per game. Senior Kylan Loney is third on the team and just out of the league's top 20 at 9.5 points per game. In a Nov. 27 win over Prairie View A&M, all 13 Sun Devils scored two or more points, while Arizona State has nine players averaging at least 3.0 points per game this year.
Kovesdy has led the team in scoring 10 times, including 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting Jan. 3 against Arizona and a season-high 21 Feb. 3 at California (19 in the second half). Westerberg has accomplished the feat six times, turning in 18 points in ASU's Dec. 21 win over No. 8 Connecticut and a career-best (and team season-high) 26 points in a Jan. 22 win over Oregon, while Loney scored a season-high 23 points, including 5-of-9 three-point attempts, in ASU's Dec. 7 victory at then No. 11/14 Georgia.
In addition to scoring, the Sun Devils are also getting balanced rebounding this season with eight different players leading the team in the category in at least one game. Westerberg is leading the team and ranked 20th in the Pac-10 with 4.9 rebounds per game, including an average of 6.0 boards in the last 13 games (78), while sophomore Aubree Johnson (4.6), senior Carrie Buckner (4.4) and junior Amy Denson (4.0) trail closely behind. Westerberg pulled down a career-best 14 rebounds Jan. 20 against Oregon State, while Johnson had a season-best nine rebounds in that game and seven two days later against Oregon. Denson pulled down a season-high 10 rebounds Feb. 17 at Oregon, while Buckner grabbed a season-best 10 last week against Washington State. Seven Sun Devils are averaging at least 2.0 boards per contest.
Defense Against Pac-10 OpponentsIncluding their 69-48 victory over Washington and a 59-40 win over Washington State last week, the Sun Devils have held Pac-10 opponents to 50 points or fewer seven times this year and 17 times in ASU's 19 years in the league. Sixteen of those 17 low-scoring efforts have come under ninth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne.
Washington had come into last week's game averaging 80.3 points per game in its previous three contests (all wins), but the Sun Devils held the Huskies to their season low of 48 points to snap that three-game winning streak, while in two games with Washington State, the Sun Devils held the Cougars to 39.5 points per contest.
Getting DefensiveArizona State has established itself as one of the top defensive teams in the Pac-10 Conference and the nation. The Sun Devils have led the league in at least one defensive category in each of the last seven seasons (1998-99 to present). This season, ASU is pacing the Pac-10 in scoring defense (52.9 points per game) for the third time in school history, rebounding defense (31.9 rebounds per game) for the fourth time in five years and three-point defense (23.1 percent) for the fourth straight season and the sixth time in seven years. ASU is also ranked eighth in the nation in scoring defense.
ASU is on pace to set its school single-season marks in all three categories - scoring, rebounding and three-point defense. The 2001-02 squad set the school record for fewest points allowed at 59.1, while ASU also has a chance this season to break the Pac-10 record for scoring defense, currently held by Stanford which gave up just 58.4 points per game in 2003-04. Last year's squad allowed the fewest rebounds in school history at 32.2, while ASU is well below the school record of 27.1 percent from three-point land that the 1998-99 team allowed.
ASU has held 19 of its 28 opponents under 60 points, 12 to 50 points or fewer and four under 40 points. The Sun Devils set the school record for fewest points by a Pac-10 opponent in a 50-38 win over Oregon State on Jan. 20 and tied the school mark for fewest points allowed in all games 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 43-9 in that victory.
In the last seven seasons (since the start of the 1998-99 season to present), ASU has held its opponents to just 61.5 points and 33.7 rebounds per game and 28.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc (12,722 points, 6,983 rebounds, 559-1953 three-pointers, 207 games).
Stagg-ering EffortSenior Lauren Stagg is making the most of the last few weeks of her Sun Devil career. She led the Sun Devils in scoring with a career-high 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting in last week's victory over Washington State. She also added a season-best four steals against the Cougars. Stagg turned in one of the most complete games of her career last week vs. Washington with seven points on 3-of-4 shooting, a team-best five rebounds, five assists and two steals. In the last five games, Stagg is averaging 5.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.0 steals per contest. She has also shot 80.0 percent from the field in that stretch of five games (12-15).
A Little Help From Their FriendsArizona State ranks second in the Pac-10 and 21st in the NCAA with an average of 16.9 assists per game, just one assist behind Stanford for the Pac-10 lead. The Sun Devils have had assists on 72.2 percent of their field goals this season (472 on 654 field goals), including 17 of 21 Dec. 21 vs. UConn, 13 of 15 Jan. 20 against Oregon State, 24 of 27 Feb. 12 against UCLA and 22 of 24 vs. Washington State last week. ASU is just four assists shy of the school record of 476 assists set by the 2001-02 Pac-10 Tournament championship team. Last year, ASU finished just one assist shy of the school record with 475 (16.4 dishes per game).
Like in scoring and rebounding, the Sun Devils have remarkable balance in assists with senior guard Kylan Loney leading the team with 2.64 assists per game. Senior Carrie Buckner (2.36) is second on the squad, while sophomore Emily Westerberg and junior Amy Denson are tied for third at 2.18 apiece. Denson turned in a career-best seven in ASU's Nov. 27 win over Prairie View and tied that Feb. 24 against Washington. Buckner (48, 2.67) and Loney (46, 2.56) led the team in assists in league play, while Buckner has the best overall assist-to-turnover ratio on the squad (1.50) with 66 assists and 44 turnovers. She would rank fourth in the Pac-10 in the category but falls short of the minimum of 3.0 assists per game.
Loney dished out a career-best nine assists in last week's Senior Day win over Washington State, and with 370 assists in her four years at ASU, she is tied for on the ASU career lists, just three assists out of fourth place in the Sun Devil record book.
Westerberg's WaysSophomore forward Emily Westerberg is leading the Sun Devils and ranked 11th in the Pac-10 in scoring at 11.4 points per game. She is also ASU's top rebounder and ranked 20th in the Pac-10 this year, pulling down 4.9 boards per game. In Pac-10 play, Westerberg led the squad with 11.5 points (10th in the league) and 5.6 rebounds per game (12th), including 22 points Jan. 7 against Stanford and a career-best 26 Jan. 22 against Oregon.
Westerberg has turned in a team-best 17 games in double figures this season. She scored 18 points in ASU's Dec. 21 upset of eighth-ranked Connecticut and has moved into the team rebounding lead after averaging 6.0 boards per game in the last 13 contests (78). She pulled down 11 rebounds Jan. 14 at UCLA and had a career-best 14 Jan. 20 vs. Oregon State. She turned in her first career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds vs. UCLA on Feb. 12.
A first-team Pac-10 All-Freshman selection last season, Westerberg continues to be outstanding from the free throw line. She is ranked third in the Pac-10 and 31st in the nation at 84.5 percent from the charity stripe (82-97), including a 6-of-6 effort Dec. 21 against UConn and a perfect 8-for-8 afternoon Jan. 22 against the Ducks.
Loney Sets Career Three-Point MarksSenior Kylan Loney is ASU's career-leading three-point shooter, draining 148 three-pointers in her four years in Tempe. The 2004 first-team All-Pac-10 selection set the ASU career mark with a pair of treys Jan. 26 at Arizona, passing Crystal Cobb who had 134 from 1989-94. Fellow senior Betsy Boardman ranks third on the ASU career list with 131 three-pointers made, while Loney has also surpassed Cobb's career mark of 392 three-point tries and has 426.
Loney has shot 40.9 percent of her long-range attempts over the past nine games (18-44), including a 4-of-5 evening Feb. 3 at Cal and a perfect 3-for-3 effort Feb. 5 at No. 4/2 Stanford. This season, she has shot 34.9 percent from three-point land (45-126) and is just out of the Pac-10's top 10 for shooting percentage. Loney ranks sixth in the Pac-10 in three-pointers made (1.61 per game), while her 45 treys match her output of all of last season and tie her for seventh on the ASU single-season charts.
Loney ranks third on the team (and just out of the Pac-10's top 20) in scoring at 9.5 points per game. She had been leading the squad in scoring but fell to third with 8.3 ppg in league action. 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. Against Stanford on Jan. 7, she knocked down 4-of-4 three-pointers and finished second on the team with 14 points, while she had a team-best 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting Feb. 5 at Stanford.
Keeping Up with KovesdyAfter leading the league for most of the season, junior forward Kristen Kovesdy is now second in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage, shooting 60.4 percent from the field (131-217), including a perfect 7-of-7 night last week against Washington. Kovesdy 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 ASU career field goal percentage chart at 55.7 percent (340-610), and at 60.4 percent this year, she is on pace to set ASU's single-season shooting mark. Monique Ambers holds the school mark with a 58.8 percent effort in 1992-93 (142-243).
Kovesdy ranks second on the team and 13th in the Pac-10 in scoring at 10.8 points per game this season, less than one point behind sophomore Emily Westerberg for the team lead (11.4). Kovesdy has paced the Sun Devils in scoring in a team-best 10 games and is second on the squad with 16 games in double figures for scoring. She turned in the team's first double-double of the season with 13 points and season-high 10 rebounds Feb. 10 against USC and had 17 points in just 19 minutes Feb. 12 vs. UCLA.
She led the Sun Devils with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting in ASU's season-opening victory over Virginia on Nov. 11. 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. On Dec. 21 against No. 8 UConn, she finished second on the team with 14 points, going 6-of-6 from the field, and she also had a team-best 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting Jan. 3 vs. then No. 25 Arizona.
Turner Thorne First in All-Time Wins at ASUWith ASU's 44-42 victory at then No. 19 UCLA on Jan. 14, ninth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne became the all-time winningest coach in Arizona State University women's basketball history. She now holds a 143-120 record at ASU and has passed Juliene Simpson who notched a 134-92 mark in eight seasons in Tempe (1979-87). Turner Thorne tied Simpson's mark with ASU's Jan. 9 win over California.
Turner Thorne has led her Sun Devils to a school-record five consecutive postseason bids with a sixth on tap this year, 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. Turner Thorne is the only coach in school history to lead the team to five consecutive winning seasons (including this year), while with this year's 20-8 mark, she has also become the second Sun Devil mentor to turn in three 20-wins seasons (Juliene Simpson is the other).
Ball TheftsASU ranks third in the Pac-10 and 50th in the NCAA with 10.9 steals per game after finishing third in the Pac-10 in the category last season (10.0 steals per game). Arizona State has been in double figures for steals in 18 of its 28 games this year. The team turned in a season-high 19 steals in its Nov. 20 win over San Diego with four Sun Devils nabbing three steals apiece in the victory.
Senior Carrie Buckner is leading the team and ranked fifth in the Pac-10 with 2.3 steals per game. She has had a season-high five steals three times this year, most recently Feb. 19 at Oregon State. Buckner is ranked fourth on the ASU career list with 219 steals in her four seasons in Tempe. She needs just three more to move into the top three all time at ASU.
1,000-Point & 500-Rebound ClubsWith 13 points Jan. 20 against Oregon State, senior Betsy Boardman became the 14th Sun Devil in school history to join the 1,000-point club. The fifth-year senior, who has come back from two ACL tears (one in each knee), now has 1,047 career points which ranks 10th all time at ASU. Boardman has played in 119 career games with 94 starts and has averaged 8.8 points per game in her ASU career.
Senior Carrie Buckner has also joined an elite group of Sun Devils who have pulled down 500 career rebounds. At just 5-9, Buckner has grabbed 544 boards in her four years in Tempe, which ranks ninth all time in the ASU record books.
Sun Devil Quick Hits
... ASU has shot 47.3 percent from the field in the last four games (128-264), up from the team's season percentage of 42.7 (fifth in the Pac-10). The team shot 52.9 percent Feb. 12 and turned in a league-play best 61.2 percent in last week's win over Washington (30-49). That also marked the second-best outing of the season for ASU, trailing only a 62.3 percent showing Nov. 27 vs. Prairie View A&M.
... With a 20-8 overall mark, ASU has already surpassed its wins total from one season ago. Last year, ASU held a 17-8 mark through the first 25 games of the season but lost its last four games at 17-12.
... The Sun Devil bench has averaged 28.8 points per game in the last five contests and has outscored its opponents 144-54 in that stretch, including a 38-3 advantage in its Feb. 12 victory over UCLA. Junior forward Amy Denson is the team's leading scorer and rebounder off the bench, turning in 6.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
... Junior reserve forward Jenny Thigpin is also coming on strong in the last few weeks of the season. She has turned in 6.0 points per game in the last four outings, up from her season average of 2.0. Thigpin has also shot 68.8 percent from the field in that stretch (11-16) and turned in season highs with seven points and four rebounds Feb. 26 against Washington State.
... ASU holds a 10-0 record when holding teams under 50 points this season, while head coach Charli Turner Thorne is 37-2 in her nine years at ASU when the Sun Devils hold teams to 50 or fewer points.
... ASU is 8-0 when scoring 70 points or more this year. The Sun Devils hold a 16-0 record this season when scoring 60 points or more and are 19-1 when holding teams to 59 points or less.
... Sophomore forwards Emily Westerberg and Aubree Johnson both stepped up their rebounding during league play. Westerberg grabbed 5.6 boards per league contest up from 4.9 in all games, while Johnson pulled down 4.9 rebounds in Pac-10 action compared to 4.6 in all games. Johnson has averaged 10.7 points per game in the last three games up from 5.4 this year, including a career-best 14 vs. Washington to celebrate her 20th birthday on Feb. 24.
... ASU is 18-1 when leading at halftime this season. The team lost its first game when leading at the half Jan. 26 at Arizona. The Sun Devils led 27-23 at halftime in Tucson but were outscored 33-22 in the second half in the 56-49 loss.
... Turnovers have troubled the Sun Devils this season. ASU averaged 20.6 turnovers and forcing 20.3 turnovers per game in Pac-10 action (-0.3 turnover margin). On the season, ASU is turning the ball over 20.1 times and forcing 22.2 turnovers per game (sixth in the Pac-10 in turnover margin at +2.11). ASU averaged 25.0 miscues per game in its first three contests of the season but had just 16.7 in its next seven non-conference games.
... Just 12 of ASU's 28 opponents have shot more free throws than the Sun Devils this season (5-7 record in those games). The team has a season average of 18.7 free throw attempts per game and is connecting on 67.0 percent of its attempts (seventh in the Pac-10).
Up NextFollowing the State Farm Pac-10 Tournament, ASU will have a week to await its postseason fate. The Sun Devils are looking to earn their sixth straight postseason appearance and the team's first NCAA Tournament berth since 2002. The bracket for the 2005 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship will be announced at 3 p.m. Mountain Time on Sunday, March 13 on ESPN.