Arizona State Opens NCAA Tournament With First Round Victory
March 19, 2005
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Arizona State has gained attention for its relentlesssmothering defense, and the Sun Devils were nearly as impressive on offense intheir NCAA tournament opener.
Emily Westerberg scored 14 of her 20 points in the first half and ArizonaState advanced past the first round for the second time in four years with an87-65 victory over Eastern Kentucky in an opener of the Tempe Regional onSaturday.
Kristen Kovesdy added 18 points for the Sun Devils, who beat three-timedefending NCAA champion Connecticut in December and earned the school's highestNCAA tournament seed since being fourth in both 1982 and '83.
Fifth-seed Arizona State (23-9) pushed the tempo, flipping the ball aroundthe perimeter and into the paint, keeping No. 12 Eastern Kentucky off balancefor much of the game in the first meeting between the schools.
The Sun Devils, winners of six of their last seven, will play either13th-seeded UC Santa Barbara or No. 4 Notre Dame on Monday night after theirsecond-highest scoring output of the season.
Miranda Eckerle had 22 points and five rebounds for Eastern Kentucky (23-8),which trailed by as many as 21 points in the first half before making thingsinteresting in the final 20 minutes.
Ashley Cazee hit back-to-back 3-pointers to pull her team within 57-43 with12:43 left, then Candis Cook's basket made it 57-45 moments later. They got asclose as nine points, but the Lady Colonels couldn't stop the Sun Devils ondefense and saw their school-record winning streak end at 15 games.
Cazee, the Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year, scored 17 of her 21points in the second half, making all three of her 3-pointers.
Eastern Kentucky, making its second NCAA appearance after losing to Georgiain the first round in '97, lost for the first time since a 65-57 defeat atTennessee Tech on Jan. 15.
After starting the season 3-6, the Lady Colonels won 20 of their final 22games.
The Sun Devils made 10 of their first 16 shots and forced four earlyturnovers by Eastern Kentucky to take a 23-7 lead. Arizona State, the topdefensive team in the Pac-10 this season ahead of top-ranked Stanford, used a21-5 run to take control.
Pam Garrett, Eastern Kentucky's imposing 6-foot-1 center who had 109 foulsin 30 games coming in, picked up her third with 9:11 left in the first half,then got her fourth 3:56 before halftime. She fouled out with 7:43 remainingwith five points and seven rebounds.
The Lady Colonels went more than 5 minutes without a field goal and trailed48-31 at halftime after shooting 35.7 percent.