Women's Hoops to Take on Notre Dame Monday Night in NCAA Second Round
March 20, 2005
FRESNO, Calif. -
Coming off an 87-65 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Saturday, the 24th-ranked Arizona State University Sun Devils will take on No. 11/13 Notre Dame (27-5) Monday night in the second round of the 2005 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship in Fresno, Calif. Fifth-seeded ASU will take on fourth-seeded Notre Dame at 6 p.m. Pacific (7 p.m. Mountain) at Fresno State's Save Mart Center with ESPN2 televising the action.
Winners of six of their last seven games and eight of their last 10, the Sun Devils have earned a victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in four years. At 23-9 overall, ASU has turned in the seventh 20-win season in school history and the third under ninth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne. The team's 23 victories also mark the most since ASU tied the school record for wins with a 25-9 record in 2001-02. The Sun Devils head into Monday night's game with the Fighting Irish looking to advance to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen for just the third time in school history and the first occasion since 1983. The winner of Monday night's game will advance onto the Tempe Regional, being hosted by Arizona State University at Wells Fargo Arena on March 26 and 28.
ExposureASU's game with Notre Dame will be broadcast live on KDUS 1060 AM with 28-year Valley broadcaster Jeff Munn 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.
ESPN2 will televise ASU's second-round game with Notre Dame to a national television audience with Dave O'Brien, Kara Lawson and Heather Cox (sidelines) calling the action. The Sun Devils hold a 9-5 record when playing on television this season.
In the Series with Notre DameASU has faced Notre Dame twice before with each team winning one game. Most recently, the Sun Devils fell to then No. 9 Notre Dame 81-52 in Tempe in the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II. ASU holds an 8-4 all-time record against teams from the Big East Conference, including a 2-0 mark this season. The Sun Devils earned a 73-53 victory over Seton Hall on Nov. 26 in San Antonio and upset then eighth-ranked Connecticut 61-50 on Dec. 21 in Tempe.
Notre Dame brings a 25-7 overall record into Monday night's game, turning in a 61-51 victory over UC Santa Barbara in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday. The Irish have now won four of their last five contests. Senior forward Jacqueline Batteast, the Big East Conference Player of the Year, is leading the team in scoring and rebounding with 16.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
Notre Dame ConnectionsNotre Dame athletics director Kevin White is more than a little familiar to the Sun Devil contigent. White served in the same capacity for the Sun Devils from 1996-2000 before leaving Tempe for South Bend. Among White's many accomplishments was luring head coach Charli Turner Thorne to ASU from Northern Arizona University in 1996-97.
ASU athletic director Gene Smith is a 1977 graduate of Notre Dame. He earned three letters as a defensive end and was a member of Notre Dame's 1973 Associated Press national championship team. Smith, who will leave ASU's athletic department for Ohio State University in April, also served as an assistant coach on Notre Dame's football team from 1977-81, helping the squad to the undisputed 1977 national title.
ASU in the NCAA TournamentASU heads into Monday's game with Notre Dame looking to advance to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen for the first time in over 20 years and the first since the women's tournament was expanded to 64 teams. The Sun Devils have reached the Sweet Sixteen on two occasions (1982 and 1983), both under then head coach Juliene Simpson. In each of those seasons, the fourth-seeded Sun Devils lost to the eventual national champion in the round of 16, falling to Louisiana Tech in 1982 and USC in 1983.
ASU is making its sixth all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament and its first since advancing to the second round in 2002. The team's five seed marks its highest since earning a four seed in both 1982 and 1983. Including Saturday's victory over Eastern Kentucky, the Sun Devils now hold a 4-5 all-time record in their six forays into the 'Big Dance.' ASU made its first back-to-back NCAA appearances in 20 years with invitations in 2001 and 2002, while ninth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne has now become the first ASU mentor to lead her team to three NCAA Tournament berths. In 2002, ninth-seeded ASU traveled to Nashville, Tenn., and defeated Wisconsin 73-70 to earn the team's first postseason win in 19 years before falling to top-seeded and fourth-ranked Vanderbilt 61-35 on the Lady Commodore's home floor.
This season marks the first NCAA Tournament appearance for all but four Sun Devils. ASU's four seniors, Betsy Boardman, Carrie Buckner, Kylan Loney and Lauren Stagg, return from ASU's 2002 NCAA Tournament squad. Boardman, a fifth-year senior, also played in the 2001 NCAA Tournament for the Sun Devils.
Offensive AttackArizona State's first-round game with Eastern Kentucky marked one of the team's top offensive performances of the season. The Sun Devils scored 87 points, which marks the second highest offensive output of the season, trailing just a 102-30 victory over Prairie View A&M on Nov. 27.
ASU made 15 of its first 21 shots against the Lady Colonels and finished the game shooting 59.3 percent from the field (35-59). That marked the third-highest shooting performance of the season for the Sun Devils who had come into the game making just 31.4 percent of their attempts (37-118) in the previous two contests.
Notes from the Eastern Kentucky GameJunior Kristen Kovesdy scored 14 of her 18 points in the second half and sophomore Emily Westerberg had 20 points to lead ASU to an 87-65 victory over Eastern Kentucky Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Fresno.
The Sun Devils made 10 of their first 16 shots and forced four early turnovers by Eastern Kentucky to take a 23-7 lead with 11:53 to play.. The Lady Colonels went more than five minutes without a field goal and trailed 48-31 at halftime. Westerberg scored 14 of her team-best 20 points in the opening frame for ASU.
In the second half, ASU increased its lead to 20 points in the opening minutes, but Ashley Cazee, the Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to pull EKU within 57-43 with 12:43 left. Eastern Kentucky got as close as nine points, but the Lady Colonels couldn't stop the Sun Devils on defense and saw their school-record winning streak end at 15 games.
Westerberg led the team with 20 points, including 6-of-8 attempts from the field and 6-of-6 from the free throw line, while Kovesdy went 9-of-11 from the field for 18 points. Sophomore Aubree Johnson added 10 points and a team-high five rebounds. Senior Kylan Loney tied her career best with nine assists, while junior Amy Denson had four steals.
Miranda Eckerle finished with 22 points and five rebounds for EKU, while Cazee scored 17 of her 21 points in the second half, making all three of her 3-pointers.
Westerberg's WaysSophomore forward Emily Westerberg is leading the Sun Devils and ranked 12th in the Pac-10 in scoring at 11.4 points per game, including a team-high 20 points Saturday vs. Eastern Kentucky. She is tied for the team lead with fellow sophomore forward Aubree Johnson at 4.8 boards per game. 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. Westerberg has turned in a team-best 19 games in double figures this season, including a career-best 26 points in a Jan. 22 win over Oregon.
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 27th in the nation at 85.3 percent from the charity stripe (93-109), including a 6-of-6 effort Saturday against the Lady Colonels. Westerberg has made 11 of her last 12 free throw attempts over the last four games, dating back to ASU's Pac-10 Tournament win over UCLA.
Aubree's AnticsSophomore forward Aubree Johnson has kicked her game up a notch in the last three weeks, averaging 9.1 points and 5.6 rebounds over the last seven games, including 10 points and a team-best five boards Saturday vs. the Lady Colonels. She ranks fifth on the team with 5.8 points per game and is tied for the lead with 4.8 boards per outing.
Johnson scored a career-best 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting in ASU's Jan. 24 win over Washington and matched that career mark with 14 points in ASU's Pac-10 Tournament semifinal victory over Oregon. She played one of the finest minutes of basketball ASU has gotten this year in that game vs. the Ducks, scoring six points, including the go-ahead leaning jumper, and grabbing the game-clinching steal in the final 47 seconds of that game. She followed that effort up with 12 rebounds, including seven offensive boards (both career highs), to go along with six points in ASU's Pac-10 Championship game loss to No. 1/2 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 61.7 percent from the field (158-256), including a perfect 7-of-7 night Feb. 26 against Washington and a 9-of-11 effort Saturday against Eastern Kentucky.
With her 9-of-11 effort Saturday vs. the Lady Colonels, Kovesdy has moved into first on the ASU career field goal percentage chart at 56.5 percent (367-649), just ahead of Melody Johnson who shot 56.2 percent from 2000-02. At 61.7 percent this year, Kovesdy is also on pace to shatter ASU's single-season shooting mark. Monique Ambers holds the current 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 11.2 points per game this season, just 0.2 points behind sophomore Emily Westerberg for the team lead (11.4). Kovesdy has been on a tear lately, shooting 70.9 percent from the field in the last six games (39-55) and averaging13.2 points per game in that stretch (79 points).
Kovesdy has paced the Sun Devils in scoring in a team-best 12 games and is tied for first on the squad with 19 games in double figures for scoring. She turned in a season-high 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting in ASU's win against Gonzaga in the championship game of the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic on Dec. 4 and led the Sun Devils with 19 points and seven rebounds in their quarterfinal win over UCLA in the Pac-10 Tournament, knocking down 9-of-13 field goal attempts.
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 (53.8 points per game) for the third time in school history, rebounding defense (31.8 rebounds per game) for the fourth time in five years and three-point defense (25.1 percent) for the fourth straight season and the sixth time in seven years. ASU is also ranked 13th 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 holds the school record for fewest points allowed at 59.1, while ASU will likely 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.
This season, ASU has held 21 of its 32 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 the win.
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 28.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc (12,961 pts, 7,108 rbs, 574-1993 treys, 211 games).
20-Win SeasonsWith a 23-9 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 become just the second Sun Devil mentor to turn in three 20-wins seasons (Juliene Simpson is the other).
ASU's 20-Win Seasons25-7 1981-82 (NCAA Sweet Sixteen)25-9 2001-02 (Pac-10 Tournament Champions, NCAA Second Round)23-7 1982-83 (NCAA Sweet Sixteen)23-9 2004-05 (NCAA bid)20-9 1991-92 (NCAA First Round)20-11 2000-01 (Pac-10 Co-Champions, NCAA First Round)
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 32 games. Saturday's game was no exception with three players scoring in double figures, led by sophomore Emily Westerberg who had 20 and junior Kristen Kovesdy who added 18 points vs. Eastern Kentucky.
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 just over two points separating the trio. Westerberg is leading the team and ranked 12th in the league at 11.4 points per game, while Kovesdy checks in at 13th in the Pac-10 at 11.2 points per game. Loney is third on the team and just out of the league's top 20 at 9.2 points per game, while ASU has eight players averaging at least 3.0 points per game this year.
Kovesdy has led the team in scoring 12 times, while Westerberg has accomplished the feat seven times. 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 and sophomore Aubree Johnson are tied for the team lead with 4.8 rebounds per game each with senior Carrie Buckner (4.4) trailing closely behind. Westerberg pulled down a career-best 14 rebounds Jan. 20 against Oregon State, while Johnson had a career-high 14 boards (seven offensive) in the Pac-10 Tournament championship game vs. No. 1/2 Stanford on March 7. Seven Sun Devils are averaging at least 2.0 boards per contest this season.
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 146-121 record at ASU and has passed Juliene Simpson who notched a 134-92 mark in eight seasons in Tempe (1979-87).
Turner Thorne has led her Sun Devils to a school-record six consecutive postseason bids, including NCAA Tournament appearances in 2001, 2002 and 2005. Turner Thorne is the only coach in school history to lead the team to five consecutive winning seasons as well as three NCAA Tournament appearances, while with this year's 23-9 mark, she has also become the second Sun Devil mentor to turn in three 20-wins seasons (Juliene Simpson is the other).
A Little Help From Their FriendsWith 542 assists this year, ASU has set the school single-season record in the category. The team has shattered 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).
ASU ranks first in the Pac-10 and 22nd in the NCAA with an average of 16.9 assists per game, including 25 in Saturday's victory over Eastern Kentucky. The Sun Devils have had assists on 71.9 percent of their field goals this season (542 on 754 field goals), including 23 of 28 March 5 against UCLA. ASU has four players with 67 or more assists this year, led by senior Kylan Loney who is averaging 3.0 assists (95 total). With 391 career assists, Loney has moved into third place in the Sun Devil record book and needs just five more to tie for second all time at ASU. Loney has averaged 6.0 assists per game in the last five contests (30), including a career-best nine in ASU's Feb. 26 Senior Day victory over Washington State and again Saturday vs. Eastern Kentucky. She has also turned in an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.3 in that stretch (30 assists to nine turnovers).
Senior Carrie Buckner (2.34 per game) is second on the squad in assists, while junior Amy Denson and sophomore Emily Westerberg are virtually tied for third at 2.2 and 2.1 assists per contest, respectively. Buckner has the best overall assist-to-turnover ratio on the squad (1.53) with 75 assists and 49 turnovers. She would rank fourth in the Pac-10 in the category but falls short of the minimum of 3.0 assists per game.
Fresno Area ConnectionsJunior forward Jenny Thigpin hails from Hanford, Calif., which is 33 miles south of Fresno. Thigpin, a 6-3 forward, helped lead the Hanford High School Lady Pups to three straight league titles (1999-01) and the 2001 CIF Division II state championship.
Thigpin turned in a solid effort off the bench in Saturday's victory over Eastern Kentucky. She finished the game with a season-high eight points on 3-of-4 shooting. She added three rebounds, an assist and a block against the Lady Colonels in front of the hometown crowd.
ASU associate head coach Meg Sanders began her college coaching career at Fresno State, working for Bob Spencer, the first women's coach to win 500 games, from 1989-93. She earned her master's degree in physical education from Fresno State in 1991.
Loney Sets Career Three-Point MarksSenior Kylan Loney is ASU's career-leading three-point shooter, draining 155 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 132 three-pointers made, while Loney has also holds ASU's career attempts mark with 444.
This season, Loney has shot 35.4 percent from three-point land (52-147), which ranks eighth in the Pac-10, while her 1.63 treys per game are fourth in the league. With 52 three-pointers made this season, she is tied for fourth on the ASU single-season charts, just eight behind the school-record 60 that Amanda Levens had in 2000-01, and has turned in three of the top nine efforts on that list.
Loney ranks third on the team (and just out of the Pac-10's top 20) in scoring at 9.2 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.
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 1,058 career points which ranks 10th all time at ASU. Boardman has played in 123 career games with 95 starts and has averaged 8.6 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 562 boards in her four years in Tempe, which ranks seventh all time in the ASU record books.
Sun Devil Quick Hits
... Monday's contest against No. 11/13 Notre Dame will mark ASU's ninth contest against a ranked opponent this year. ASU holds a 4-4 record against ranked opponents this year, including 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. All four of those losses to ranked have come against teams ranked No. 1 in the national polls at one point this year (Nov. 12 at then No. 3/2 LSU and three losses to now top-ranked Stanford).
... Including Saturday's 87-65 victory over Eastern Kentucky, ASU holds a 6-1 record this season in games played at neutral sites. The Sun Devils won their first five contests of the year on neutral floors before falling to Stanford in the championship game of the Pac-1o Tournament at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, an arena just 18 miles from the Cardinals' Palo Alto campus.
...Prior to shooting 59.3 percent in Saturday's win over the Lady Colonels, ASU had shot just 31.4 percent (37-118) in its last two games. The team has been a little streaky from the field in recent weeks, connecting at a 48.1 clip in its five games before that (156-324), including a 61.2 league-play best 61.2 percent in Feb. 24 vs. Washington (30-49). ASU ranks fifth in the Pac-10, shooting 42.6 percent from the field on the year.
... 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 Feb. 19 at Oregon State. Buckner is ranked third on the ASU career list with 225 steals in her four seasons in Tempe. She needs just six more to move into a tie for second place all time at ASU.
... The Sun Devil bench has outscored its last four opponents 68-35, including a 21-0 advantage over UCLA in the Pac-10 Tournament. ASU has gotten 23.6 points per game from its reserves in the last nine contests and has outscored its opponents 212-89 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 in the Pac-10 Tournament with 15 points, six assists and five rebounds vs. UCLA, while Saturday against Eastern Kentucky, she finished with eight points, four rebounds, a team-high four steals and two assists.
... ASU holds a 13-0 record when holding teams to 50 points or less 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 9-0 when scoring 70 points or more this year. The Sun Devils hold a 17-0 record this season when scoring 60 points or more and are 20-2 when holding teams to 59 points or less.
... ASU is 20-1 when leading at halftime this season. The team lost its only 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.