Women's Hoops to Play Stanford for Pac-10 Tournament Title

March 6, 2005

SAN JOSE, Calif. -

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Following a 73-69 victory over Oregon in Sunday's quarterfinals, the third-seeded Arizona State University Sun Devils will play for the 2005 State Farm Pac-10 Tournament championship for the second time in the four-year history of the event. The Sun Devils will take on top-seeded and second-ranked Stanford (28-2) in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time (8:30 p.m. Mountain) on Monday night. Fox Sports Net will televise the game to a national audience with Barry Tompkins, Mary Murphy and Carolyn Hughes calling the action. Winners of their last five games and seven of their last eight, the Sun Devils have turned in the team's most wins since tying the school record with 25 victories in its 2002 Pac-10 Tournament championship campaign (25-9 overall). ASU heads into Monday night's game looking to tie the team's longest winning streak of the year and snap a two-game losing streak against the Cardinal, which has won its last 19 games.

In the Series with StanfordStanford holds a 38-10 advantage in the all-time series with Arizona State, winning the last two games and five of the last six between the two teams. Monday night marks the second time that ASU has met the Cardinal in the Pac-10 Tournament with the Sun Devils coming away with a 70-63 victory in the championship game of the inaugural league event in 2002.

This season, Stanford got the best of ASU in two contests, taking a 68-57 victory in Tempe on Jan. 7 and a 67-53 win in Palo Alto on Feb. 5. Coincidentally, that was the same story as in the 2001-02 season with Stanford earning a nine-point victory at ASU and a 14-point decision at Maples Pavilion before being upset by the Sun Devils in the Pac-10 Tournament.

ASU in the Pac-10 TournamentWith its wins over UCLA and Oregon this season, Arizona State now holds a 5-2 mark in Pac-10 Conference Tournament games. The victory over the Bruins also snapped a two-game losing streak in the Pac-10 Tournament for ASU. This season marks the second time that ASU has earned the No. 3 seed in the four-year history of the league event. The Sun Devils were also the No. 3 seed when they won the Pac-10 Tournament title in 2002. Six of ASU's seven Pac-10 Tournament games have been decided by eight points or less, including this year's 73-71 win over the Bruins on Saturday and the 54-47 win over Oregon on Sunday.

Last Time OutSophomore Aubree Johnson scored six of her career-high 14 points in the final 47 seconds to lead ASU to a 54-47 come-from-behind victory over Oregon in Sunday's semifinals.

ASU led for the majority of the first half, going up by as many as five points. The Sun Devils took an 18-13 advantage with 7:33 to play, but the second-seeded Ducks used a 7-0 run to take a 21-18 lead two minutes later. Sophomore Emily Westerberg knocked down a three-pointer to tie the game up, but Oregon (20-9) scored the next six points and led 29-25 at the break.

In the second half, ASU missed 14 of its first 15 shots and fell behind 39-27 with 8:35 to play, but senior Carrie Buckner knocked down four free throws and Johnson made a layup to get the Sun Devils within two points. Westerberg got her own offensive board and put it back to tie the game at 37 with 8:54 to play.

Oregon got up by four points twice more, but ASU tied things up each time. The Sun Devils took the lead for good after four points each from Westerberg and Johnson. The pair scored all 11 of ASU's points in an 11-0 run over the final 2:10. Westerberg's layup with 1:29 to play tied the game, while Johnson's leaning jumper put ASU ahead for good, 49-47 with 47 seconds to play.

The Ducks threw the ball away on their next possession, and Johnson knocked down a pair of free throws to put the Sun Devils up by four. She then had a key steal of Oregon's inbounds pass to secure the 54-47 victory and give ASU its fifth straight win.

Johnson tied her career high with 14 points, while Westerberg finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. Senior Betsy Boardman pulled down a season-best nine rebounds, and senior Kylan Loney had six assists to lead the Sun Devils. For Oregon, senior forward Cathrine Kraayeveld led the team with 14 points, while senior center Andrea Bills had 11.

Deja Vu All Over Again...The Sun Devils have overcome second-half deficits to win each of their two games so far in this year's Pac-10 Tournament. ASU trailed by eight in the first half and by four in the second against UCLA, while Sunday against Oregon, the Sun Devils rallied from an eight-point deficit with 13 minutes to play.

That is not unfamiliar territory in the Pac-10 Tournament for the Sun Devils who rallied from deficits in each of their wins in 2002. ASU trailed by 10 at halftime in its 66-58 quarterfinal win over Arizona. In the semifinals against the Ducks that year, the Sun Devils lost a 12-point halftime advantage and trailed by as many eight points in the second half. All-tournament selection Amanda Levens had eight points in an 11-2 run which helped ASU to a 64-58 win. Levens scored 16 of her 19 points in the second half to lead ASU.

The Sun Devils completed the trifecta of come-from-behind wins in their upset of second-ranked Stanford in the championship game. Stanford led by nine with 18 minutes to play, but ASU again answered with a 12-2 that included six points each from Levens and fellow all-tourney selection Melody Johnson. Levens had another terrific second-half effort, scoring 17 of her game-high 22 points in the final 20 minutes to lead ASU to its 70-63 victory and the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament title.

20-Win SeasonsWith a 22-8 record, the Sun Devils have turned in the seventh 20-win season in school history and the most victories since the team tied the school record for single-season victories with a 25-9 record in 2001-02. It also marks the third 20-win campaign for ninth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne. Turner Thorne has also become the second Sun Devil mentor to turn in three 20-wins seasons (Juliene Simpson is the other).

Balanced ScoringThe Sun Devils have gotten balanced scoring so far this year with eight different players leading the team in scoring in the team's 30 games. Sophomore Aubree Johnson led the team in scoring for the second time of the season with a career-high-tying 14 points and sophomore Emily Westerberg added 12 Sunday against the Ducks, while junior Kristen Kovesdy had 19 and senior Kylan Loney scored 18 in ASU's quarterfinal win over UCLA.

ASU has two players averaging in double figures and ranked in the Pac-10's top 15 for scoring (and another just under 10 points per game) with less than two points separating the trio. Westerberg is leading the team and ranked 11th in the league at 11.2 points per game, while Kovesdy checks in at 13th in the Pac-10 at 11.0 points per game. Loney is third on the team and just out of the league's top 20 at 9.5 points per game, while Arizona State has eight players averaging at least 3.0 points per game this year. Kovesdy has led the team in scoring 10 times, including 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting Saturday against UCLA. Kovesdy's 19 points were just two shy of her season high of 21, which she has accomplished twice this year.

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 (53.3 points per game) for the third time in school history, rebounding defense (32.0 rebounds per game) for the fourth time in five years and three-point defense (23.3 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 20 of its 30 opponents under 60 points, 13 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 61.4 points and 33.7 rebounds per game and 28.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc (12,840 pts, 7,049 rbs, 564-1972 treys, 209 games).

A Little Help From Their FriendsWith 504 assists so far this year, ASU has set the school single-season record in the category. The team has bested the previous school mark of 476 set by the 2001-02 Pac-10 Tournament championship squad. Last year, ASU finished just one assist shy of the previous school record with 475 (16.4 dishes per game).

Arizona State is tied for first in the Pac-10 (with Stanford) and ranked 21st in the NCAA with an average of 16.8 assists per game. The Sun Devils have had assists on 72.0 percent of their field goals this season (504 on 700 field goals), including 23 of 28 Saturday against UCLA. ASU has four players with 60 or more assists this year, led by senior Kylan Loney who is averaging 2.8 assists (84 total). With four assists against UCLA on Saturday, Loney moved into fourth place in the Sun Devil record book and now has 380 assists in her four years at ASU. In two games in the Pac-10 Tournament, Loney has averaged 5.0 assists per game, including six Sunday against Oregon, and has 10 assists to just two turnovers in her 27.5 minutes per game.

Sun Devil Quick Hits

... With their two wins in the Pac-10 Tournament so far, the Sun Devils have improved to 8-2 in their last 10 games.

... ASU's two Pac-10 Tournament games have been decided by a combined nine points and have included 15 ties and 12 lead changes.

... Sunday's win over Oregon gave ASU a 5-0 record in neutral-site contests this year. The team has also improved to 4-0 in games decided by five points or less.

... The Sun Devils have won their last five games, which is ASU's second-longest winning streak of the season. The team won six consecutive non-conference contests this year.

... ASU holds a 4-3 record against ranked opponents this season, turning in a 61-50 upset of No. 8/8 Connecticut on Dec. 21, a 67-49 victory over No. -/25 Arizona on Jan. 3 and a 44-42 win over then No. 19/19 UCLA Jan. 14 in Los Angeles. The team's losses have come at then No. 3/2 LSU on Nov. 12, Jan. 7 against then No. 8/8 Stanford and Feb. 5 at then No. 4/2 Stanford.

... 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.

... Four Sun Devils are averaging 8.0 points per game or better in ASU's two Pac-10 Tournament outings. Junior Kristen Kovesdy is leading the team with 13.5 points and 61.9 percent shooting (13-21) in Pac-10 Tournament play, followed by sophomore Emily Westerberg (10.0 ppg), junior Amy Denson (9.5), senior Kylan Loney (9.0) and sophomore Aubree Johnson (8.0). Westerberg (6.5 rpg) and senior Carrie Buckner (5.5) are the team's best rebounders in Pac-10 Tournament action so far.

... ASU has shot 45.1 percent from the field in the last five games (174-386), up from the team's season percentage of 42.5 (fourth in the Pac-10). ASU shot 46.7 percent Saturday vs. UCLA and turned in a league-play best 61.2 percent in Feb. 24 vs. Washington (30-49).

... The team shot just 31.6 percent Sunday against Oregon, which was the second-lowest performance in a win this year.

... The Sun Devil bench has outscored UCLA and Oregon 34-2 in the last two games, including a 21-0 advantage Saturday against the Bruins. ASU has gotten 25.4 points per game from its reserves in the last seven contests and has outscored its opponents 178-56 in that stretch. Junior forward Amy Denson is the team's leading scorer and rebounder off the bench, turning in 6.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Denson turned in another strong performance off the bench on Saturday with 15 points, six assists and five rebounds vs. UCLA.

... ASU is 9-0 when scoring 70 points or more this year, including a 73-71 win over UCLA in Saturday's quarterfinals. The Sun Devils hold a 17-0 record when scoring 60 points or more and are 20-1 when holding teams to 59 points or less. The 71 points by the Bruins Saturday was the most allowed by ASU this season, while Sunday marked the eighth time this year that ASU has held a league opponent under 50 points.

... Sophomore Emily Westerberg, a first-team All-Pac-10 selection this year, is ranked third in the Pac-10 and 31st in the nation at 84.5 percent from the charity stripe (87-103).

... Westerberg has a chance to be the first Sun Devil to lead the team in scoring and rebounding since Pac-10 All-Freshman selection Theresa Jantzen accomplished the feat during her rookie year in 1998-99.

... After leading the league for most of the season, junior forward Kristen Kovesdy is now second in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage, shooting 60.5 percent from the field (144-238). The two-time honorable-mention All-Pac-10 selection ranks second on the ASU career field goal percentage chart at 55.9 percent (353-631), and at 60.5 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.

... With a 145-120 record, ninth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne became the all-time winningest coach in ASU women's basketball history. Turner Thorne has led her Sun Devils to a school-record five consecutive postseason bids with a sixth on tap this year and is the only coach in school history to lead the team to five consecutive winning seasons.

... Senior Kylan Loney is ASU's career-leading three-point shooter, draining 152 three-pointers in her four years in Tempe. She drained 4-of-8 three-pointers Saturday against UCLA, which was just one shy of her career-best five. Loney has knocked down five treys in five career games. This year, Loney is tied for fourth in the Pac-10 in three-pointers made (1.63 per game) and tied for eighth in three-point percentage (.350).

... Senior Carrie Buckner is leading the team and ranked fifth in the Pac-10 with 2.2 steals per game. She has had a season-high five steals three times this year, most recently last week at Oregon State. With her three steals Sunday against Oregon, Buckner has moved into third on the ASU career list with 222 steals in her four seasons in Tempe.

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