ASU Women's Basketball Faces Rutgers in the Elite Eight
March 26, 2007
After 886 games of women's basketball played at Arizona State, the program will have its first ever opportunity to play for a berth in the NCAA Women's Final Four in game No. 887 when the Sun Devils take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the Greensboro Regional Final on Monday night (7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. in Arizona) at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C.
The No. 3 seed Sun Devils earned their bid to the regional final after coming through with one of their best performances of the season on Saturday in a 67-49 win over No. 7 seed Bowling Green in one of two Greensboro Regional Semifinal games. Making ASU's win over the Falcons even more impressive is the fact that it was able to control the game despite not having the services of sophomore guard Briann January, who was the Sun Devils leading scorer in ASU's two prior tournament games (18.5 ppg). January was not medically cleared to play on Saturday because of a concussion she suffered in the final moments of ASU's 67-58 win over Louisville in the second round of the tournament. Leading the way for ASU on Saturday was sophomore Danielle Orsillo - January's replacement in the starting lineup - who had 16 points on 7-12 shooting while playing a career-high 34 minutes. Also contributing to the win were senior co-captains Emily Westerberg (15 points, eight rebounds) and Aubree Johnson (10 points, seven rebounds). Quietly coming through with one of the biggest performances of the game was junior guard Reagan Pariseau, who had five points, seven assists and four rebounds while tying her career high in minutes played (34).
In the other regional semifinal, No. 4 seed Rutgers overcame a 10-point second-half deficit to defeat the Duke Blue Devils 53-52 to also advance to Monday's regional final. Duke entered the NCAA Tournament as the overall No. 1 seed in the entire tourney field.
TELEVISION AND RADIO
ASU's game vs. Rutgers can be seen live on ESPN. Mike Patrick (play-by-play) and Doris Burke (analyst) will call the game and Holly Rowe will be on the sidelines. The game can also be heard live on KMVP 860 AM and on the sundevilsportsnetwork.com. Pre-game coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m. in Arizona. Valley veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his third year as the voice of ASU women's basketball.
ARIZONA STATE HEAD COACH Charli Turner Thorne
The winningest coach in Sun Devil history (203-133) and No. 5 in the Pac-10 in most career wins, Turner Thorne has led the Sun Devils to the NCAA Tournament five times in the last seven years, including the last three seasons in succession. The five NCAA appearances are two more than what ASU had in the 15 years prior to Turner Thorne's arrival in Tempe.
This season has led the Sun Devils to a school record 31 wins (including a school record 16 Pac-10 wins) against only four defeats and has the Sun Devils in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
With the aforementioned 31 wins, the Sun Devils have now won 20 or more games three years in a row, something that has happened only one other time in the program's history.
Including this season, the Sun Devils are 80-21 (.792) since 2004-05.
During the second half of last season Turner Thorne led ASU on a school record 10-game winning streak after leading the Sun Devils to a school record-tying nine-game winning streak earlier in the same season (also led ASU to its first Top 10 ranking in 22 years and tied what at the time was the highest ranking in school history - No. 9 - in 2005-06).
Last season led ASU to a 25-7 record and also led ASU to its seventh consecutive postseason berth.
In 2004-05, guided ASU to a 24-10 overall record and its first NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance in 22 years.
Led her 2001-02 team to a 25-9 record, tying the ASU record for wins in a single season.
Guided ASU to a share of the Pac-10 title in 2001 and the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament title in 2002, the first league championships in school history.
Led Northern Arizona University to consecutive winning seasons in 1994-95 and 1995-96, the first coach in school history to accomplish that feat.
As a player, lettered four years at Stanford where she played under Tara VanDerveer.
Graduated from Stanford in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and later earned her master's degree in education from Washington in 1990.
Career Record: 243-173
ASU FANS INVITED TO SUPPORT SUN DEVILS
ASU Vice President for University Athletics Lisa Love announced on Saturday that the public has been invited to Wells Fargo Arena to view Monday's Elite Eight game between ASU and Rutgers. Doors will open at 3:30 p.m. The game is scheduled to begin a little after 4 p.m.'We want all Sun Devil fans, especially the ASU student body, to share in our excitement and enthusiasm in cheering for the Sun Devil women's basketball team as we compete in the Elite Eight,' Love said. 'We have opened up Wells Fargo Arena so that everyone can enjoy the game with us.'
2006-07 TEAM ACCOMPLISHMENTS
ASU is making its first ever appearance in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament after getting as far as the Sweet Sixteen on three other occasions.
For the first time in school history ASU is making its third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Sun Devils' No. 3 seed in the Greensboro Region is their highest ever placement in the NCAA Tournament. Prior to this season ASU was seeded as high as fourth (1982, 1983, 2006).
Currently 31-4 the Sun Devils have already set the school record for most wins, eclipsing the previous record of 25, which was done three other times (1981-82, 2001-02, 2005-06).
With 31 wins this season, the Sun Devils have now won 20 or more games three straight years and five times in the last seven seasons. Only one other time in the program's history (1980-81, 1981-82, 1982-83) have the Sun Devils had three consecutive 20-win seasons.
For the second consecutive season the Sun Devils set the single-season school record for most Pac-10 wins with 16. Last season ASU won 14 Pac-10 games.
ASU also set a new standard for most road wins in a season with 10. In fact, ASU is 14-1 in its last 15 road games going back to the 2005-06 season.
ASU's No. 7 ranking in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll last month was its highest ever ranking in either of the major polls. The Sun Devils will be entered the NCAA Tournament ranked No. 10 in the Associated Press poll and No. 8 in the USA Today/ESPN poll.
The Sun Devils advanced to the championship game of the Pac-10 Tournament for the third time in the tournament's six-year history. Senior F Emily Westerberg was named to the All-Tournament Team after averaging 12.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in ASU's three tournament games.
With 639 assists this season the Sun Devils set a school record for the third consecutive season. ASU entered the NCAA Tournament ranked No. 1 in the nation in assists. Last season ASU finished No. 4 nationally with 18.4 assists per game. In addition, ASU also finished the regular season (prior to the Pac-10 Tournament) ranked No. 5 in the nation in field goal percentage (.483), No. 11 in scoring margin (+16.3) and No. 14 in scoring offense (75.2). The Sun Devils finished the regular season atop all those categories in the Pac-10 in addition to free throw percentage (.737), three-point field goal percent defense (.276) and steals per game (10.17). They finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in the Pac-10 in scoring defense (58.9 points allowed per game), rebounding defense (33.4 rebounds allowed per game), turnover margin (+4.62) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.07).
Senior Emily Westerberg became the first Sun Devil in school history to be named to the All-Pac-10 Team three times. Also earning All-Pac-10 First-Team Honors was senior Aubree Johnson. Sophomore Briann January earned Pac-10 Honorable Mention honors and Dymond Simon was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team despite being sidelined the second half of the Pac-10 season due to an ACL injury.
Including this season, the Sun Devils are 80-21 (.792) since 2004-05.
Head coach Charli Turner Thorne achieved a pair of milestones this season, earning her 100th Pac-10 win and her 200th ASU win.
ASU IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
ASU is currently in the midst of its eighth overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament, its third consecutive and fifth in the last seven seasons.
ASU's No. 3 seed is its highest ever placement in the NCAA Tournament.
ASU's overall record in the NCAA Tournament is 9-7, including 7-4 under Charli Turner Thorne.
This will be ASU's first ever appearance in the Elite Eight. Prior to this season the furthest the Sun Devils ever advanced was to the Sweet Sixteen (three occasions ... 1982, 1983, 2005). In both 1982 and 1983, 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.
As a No. 4 seed last season the Sun Devils defeated Stephen F. Austin in the first round in Tucson (80-61) before falling to Utah in the second round (65-86). The Utes would eventually advance to the Albuquerque Regional final where they nearly upset eventual national champion Maryland before falling in overtime.
Two years ago ASU advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in 22 years before falling to North Carolina, 79-72. The tourney began with an 87-65 victory over No. 12 seeded Eastern Kentucky at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. ASU then advanced to the Sweet Sixteen after upsetting No. 5 seeded Notre Dame, 70-61.
ASU's first NCAA appearance in the Turner Thorne era came in 2001. As the No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region, the Sun Devils fell to No. 6 seeded LSU in the first round, 83-66.
Turner Thorne earned her first victory in the NCAA Tournament the following year after the No. 9 seeded Sun Devils defeated No. 8 seeded Wisconsin in the first round of the Midwest sub-regional, 73-70. ASU would fall to top-seeded Vanderbilt in the second round, 61-35.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
This will be ASU's first ever appearance in the Elite Eight. ASU will be attempting to join Stanford (1990, '91, '92, '95, '96, '97) and USC (1983, '84, '86) as the only Pac-10 schools to qualify for the NCAA Women's Final Four.
The Sun Devils are 10-4 all-time against Big East Conference opponents.
ASU is shooting 82.9 percent from the free throw line (102-123) in its last seven games. During that same span the Sun Devils are shooting 88 percent from the free throw line (30-34) in the final two minutes of the game.
Briann January (13.2), Aubree Johnson (12.2) and Emily Westerberg (12.2) are averaging double figures in scoring in ASU's last 10 games. Included in that span for January, who sat out ASU's 67-49 Sweet Sixteen win over Bowling Green (mild concussion), were a pair of career-best 22-point outings most recently against Louisville in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Johnson's career-best point total prior to ASU's 61-48 win over Oregon on Feb. 8 was 16. Since then she has scored 17 or more points three times, including a career-best 27 points in ASU's 78-63 win vs. Oregon State (Feb. 10).
Currently with 1,334 career points, senior F Emily Westerberg needs 30 points to pass former Sun Devil Kristen Kovesdy (1,363 points from 2003-06) for No. 5 on ASU's all-time scoring list. Westerberg is also currently No. 3 on ASU's all-time list for most career FTs (350) and No. 7 for most FGs (466).
Senior G Jill Noe (106 career three-point FGs) needs 11 three-point FGs to tie former Sun Devil Molly Tuter for No. 5 on ASU's all-time list. She also needs 64 points to become the 18th player in Sun Devil history to score 1,000 career points.
In its last five games the Sun Devils faced a player who was either a current of past conference player of the year. Senior forward Ali Mann (co-winner of this year's Mid-American Player of the Year) of Bowling Green was the most recent POY the Sun Devils faced. In the semifinals of the Pac-10 Tournament the Sun Devils faced current Pac-10 Player of the Year sophomore F/C Devanei Hampton of Califonria. In the finals of the Pac-10 Tournament ASU faced junior Candice Wiggins of Stanford, who was named Pac-10 Player of the Year in both 2004-05 and 2005-06. In the first round of the NCAA Tournament UC Riverside had the Big West Player of the Year in the form of junior F/C Kemie Nkele. In the second round against Louisville, the Sun Devils had to contend with Big East Player of the Year Angel McCoughtry. Still, the Sun Devils will still be facing a difficult task on Monday as they will have to contend with this season Big East Defensive Player of the Year, Essence Carson of Rutgers.
SERIES HISTORY VERSUS RUTGERS
The Sun Devils and Scarlet Knights have encountered one another three times in the past (ASU leads series 2-1) with the most recent meeting on Dec. 2, 2001 when the Sun Devils prevailed 59-56 in the finals of the ASU Holiday Classic.
PRESSURE DEFENSE PAYS BIG DIVIDENDS
'Gradually, and then suddenly.' Those were the words of a character describing how he went bankrupt in Ernest Hemingway's 'The Sun Also Rises.' Eighty-one years later those very words can also be used to describe the abrupt manner in which the Sun Devils often take control of games. Combining a tenacious pressure defense with the talents of a roster which includes nine players who play 12 or more minutes per game, the Sun Devils have shown a knack for quickly being able to break games wide open when their opponents begin to feel the effects of the frenetic pace with which ASU plays on both ends of the floor. At no time has this been more evident than in the post season. Prior to ASU's 67-49 win over Bowling Green in the Sweet Sixteen, the Sun Devils were involved in five consecutive contests in which the outcome was still hanging in the balance in each of the respective game's final five minutes. In those five games ASU outscored its opponents by an average of 13.8-5.6 in the game's final five minutes (ASU outscored its first two NCAA Tournament opponents, UC Riverside and Louisville, by an aggregate total of 30-6 in the final five minutes). During that five-game span ASU shot 55.2 percent (16-29) compared to 23.1 (9-39) percent by its opponents, including 0-8 from three-point range. In addition, the Sun Devils also out-rebounded the opposition by an average of 7.0-3.0 over the last five minutes of those games.
FOUR SUN DEVILS EARN ALL-PAC-10 HONORS
Arizona State senior forwards Aubree Johnson and Emily Westerberg were named to the All-Pacific-10 Team, leading a group of four Sun Devils who received all-league honors. With the honor, Westerberg is the first Sun Devil to be named to the All-Pac-10 Team three times. In addition to Johnson and Westerberg's accolades, sophomore guard Briann January was named All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention and guard Dymond Simon was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team. The All-Pac-10 and All-Freshman Teams were determined by a vote of the league's 10 head coaches. One of the Pac-10's most accurate shooters, Johnson led the team and finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (.554). Johnson's play was one of the most important factors in helping the Sun Devils win a school record 16 Pac-10 games this season. During ASU's recent nine-game winning streak Johnson led the team in scoring, averaging 13.4 points per game. Last month Johnson was named the Pac-10's Player of the Week after averaging 22.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, 3.0 steals and 2.0 assists in ASU's wins over Oregon (61-48) and Oregon State (78-63). She had career-bests in points (27) and field goals (12) in the Oregon State win, the most by a Sun Devil in either category since December of 2005. The team leader in points per game (13.5) and second in rebounds per game (5.0), Westerberg's steady play has helped the Sun Devils to a school record 31 wins this season. One of ASU's 2006-07 co-captains along with Johnson, Westerberg has led or tied for the team lead in scoring 11 times this season and has led or tied for the team lead in rebounding six times. She has scored in double figures in 25 of the 32 games she played in. Named to the Naismith Award Watch List earlier this season and currently a finalist for Kodak All-America honors, Westerberg finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 in free throw percentage (.852) and No. 8 in field goal percentage (.526). One of the nation's top defenders, who is also known for her outstanding playmaking ability, January picked up right where she left off last season when she was named to the Pac-10's All-Freshman Team. During the regular season January led ASU in both assists (4.2 apg, fourth in the Pac-10) and steals (2.2 spg, second in the Pac-10). She also finished fifth in the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio and ninth in free throw percentage (.789). January has had two or fewer turnovers 18 times this season, and had one or zero turnovers 12 times. In addition, January has scored in double figures 16 times this season, including 12 times in her last 17 games. Most recently, January averaged 18.5 points while shooting 60 percent (12-20) from the field in ASU's come-from-behind NCAA tournament wins over UC Riverside and Louisville. A career-best four three-point field goals punctuated January's 22-point outing against the Cardinals, which also tied a career-high mark. One of ASU's top newcomers entering the 2006-07 season, Simon was having a stellar season before suffering a torn ACL in ASU's 62-54 win vs. USC (Jan. 21). At the time of her injury, Simon, who averaged 17.1 minutes in 20 games, was third on the team in scoring (9.7 points per game) and second on the team in steals (1.6 per game). Simon, who scored in double figures seven times this season, earned Pac-10 Player of the Week kudos after averaging 20 points, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals in ASU wins vs. Washington State (Jan. 4) and Washington (Jan. 7). In the two games Simon connected on 78.9 percent of her shots, including 4-of-5 from three-point range (80 percent). She scored a career-best 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting (.818) and tied her career-best with five assists in ASU's victory over the Cougars. Against the Huskies, Simon was equally efficient scoring 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting (.800) to go along with one assist and one steal.
WESTERBERG BECOMES FIRST SUN DEVIL TO EARN ALL-PAC-10 HONORS THREE TIMES
Two weeks ago Arizona State senior F Emily Westerberg was named a finalist for Kodak All-America honors. For Westerberg the honor was the latest in a career that has been one of the most decorated in school annals. Earlier this month Westerberg made history when she became the first ASU player ever to earn All-Pac-10 honors three times.
Earlier in the season Westerberg was named to the watch list for the 2007 Naismith Award, which is presented annually to the men's and women's college basketball players of the year. The Top 50 list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. The board based its pre-season criteria on player performances from last season and expectations for the 2006-07 season.
Last season Westerberg became the first Sun Devil since 1992-93 to earn First-Team All-Pac-10 honors in back-to-back seasons after a year in which she finished second on the team in scoring (12.8 ppg), rebounding (5.1 rpg), assists (80) and blocks (9) and third in both steals (34) and three-point field goals (18).
Throughout the 2006-07 season Westerberg's steady play has been instrumental in leading the Sun Devils to a single-season school record for most wins. She was named Most Valuable Player of the season opening Veterans Day Classic after averaging 16.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in wins over Nebraska, New Mexico and Florida Atlantic. She added 21 points in ASU's 83-74 loss to No. 4 Tennessee (Nov. 19). Westerberg's play against the Lady Vols was so impressive that Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt singled her out in her post-game remarks following the game. Said Summitt, 'We didn't have an answer [for Emily Westerberg]. I went over and told her, `You are a heck of a player.' I knew that from just watching tape. She is very efficient. She is just a very skilled player. She plays hard. She gets open. We had a hard time keeping the ball out of her hands. We talked about it at halftime: You have to limit her touches or the numbers are going to mount.'
One of ASU's 2006-07 co-captains along with senior F Aubree Johnson, Westerberg has put up double figures in points 25 times in 32 games this season. She has led or tied for the team lead in scoring 11 times this season and has led or tied for the team lead in rebounding six times. Westerberg finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 in free throw percentage (.852) and No. 8 in field goal percentage (.526).Earlier this season she became the 17th player in school history to score 1,000 career points following her 20-point outing in ASU's 81-66 win at Gonzaga (Dec. 6). Currently with 1,334 career points, Westerberg needs 30 points to pass former Sun Devil Kristen Kovesdy (1,363 points from 2003-06) for No. 5 on ASU's all-time scoring list. Westerberg is also currently No. 3 on ASU's all-time list for most career free throws (350) and No. 7 for most field goals (466).
WHAT'S NEXT FOR CHARLI?
With its 67-49 win over Bowling Green in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament the Arizona State women's basketball team clinched its first ever appearance in the Elite Eight of the 'The Big Dance.' It was the latest `first time ...' for the Sun Devils under head coach Charli Turner Thorne, who continues to build on what has been the most successful period in the program's history. Since the 2004-05 season the Sun Devils are 80-21, including a 6-2 record in NCAA Tournament games the last three seasons.
Last season Turner Thorne had the Sun Devils in the Top 10 of both polls for the first time in 22 years. If the figure `22 years' sounds familiar it's because in 2004-05 Turner Thorne led the Sun Devils to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 22 years. After leading the Sun Devils to a 25-7 record last season Turner Thorne was recognized for the job she has done with ASU in being named the Russell Athletic/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Region 8 Coach of the Year.
Currently in the midst of her 11th season in Tempe, Turner Thorne has more than established the Sun Devils as one of the teams to watch on an annual basis not only in the Pac-10 Conference, but also across the country. In fact, since the 2000-01 season the Sun Devils have won the second-highest number of overall games (158) in the Pac-10 Conference. On Feb. 24 at Arizona, Turner Thorne led the Sun Devils to their 26th win of the season (now 31 wins) and their 16th Pac-10 win of the season (both school records). Turner Thorne is currently No. 5 among Pac-10 coaches in all-time victories with 203. On Feb. 1 she earned the 100th Pac-10 win of her career with the Sun Devils' 75-64 win at Washington. She reached another milestone on Mar. 4 when the Sun Devils defeated California 60-53 in the Pac-10 semifinals. The win was the 200th for Turner Thorne at ASU.
The Sun Devils are 35-3 in their last 38 regular season games (includes 25-2 mark in their last 27 regular season Pac-10 games) going back to the 2005-06 season. Included during the 38-game span is a 14-1 record on the road. ASU won its last nine regular season games of 2005-06 and had won its first four this season before falling to the No. 4 Tennessee Lady Vols, 83-74 on Nov. 19. After falling to the Lady Vols, the Sun Devils won their next eight games before falling to Stanford (77-71) in Palo Alto on Dec. 30. Following the loss to Stanford, the Sun Devils won their next seven games before falling to the Cardinal in Tempe (65-73 in OT). The Sun Devils won their last seven regular season games after the late January loss against Stanford.
The Sun Devils have had 11 games this season in which at least four players have scored in double figures, most recently their 80-69 win over UCLA on Feb. 18. ASU has also had one game (vs. UCLA on Jan. 18) in which five players scored in double figures.
The Sun Devils have nine active players who are averaging at least 12.5 minutes per game. Leading the way is sophomore G Briann January who is averaging 25.4 minutes per game. At the time of her injury, freshman G Dymond Simon was averaging 17.1 minutes per game.
ASU is 19-0 this season in games in which it out-rebounds the opposition.
The Sun Devils are 42-4 the last two seasons when they have fewer turnovers than their opponents.
ASU led the Pac-10 in home attendance this season, averaging 3,502 fans per game.
ASU has won 36 of its last 38 regular season home games. After finishing with a 14-2 mark at home this season, the Sun Devils are now 54-4 in Wells Fargo Arena since the 2003-04 season.
Since 2004-05, the Sun Devils are 26-4 in non-conference regular season games. They have defeated five ranked teams in that span, including No. 11 Georgia and No. 8 UConn in 2004, No. 17 Vanderbilt and No. 18 New Mexico in 2005 and No. 18 New Mexico in 2006. ASU's only losses in that span came at No. 3 LSU in 2004 (54-65), at New Mexico in 2004 (45-61), vs. No. 8 North Carolina in last year's Caribbean Classic in Cancun (72-79) and vs. Tennessee (74-83) earlier this season in Tempe.