ASU Women's Basketball Faces No. 10 California in Pac-10 Tournament Semifinals on Sunday
March 9, 2008
The Arizona State women's basketball team will attempt to advance to the championship game of the Pac-10 Tournament for the second time in as many years when it takes on the No. 10/9 California Golden Bears in the semifinals on Sunday (noon PT) at HP Pavilion in San Jose. The Sun Devils are riding a five-game winning streak coming into Sunday's contest which matches their longest of the season.
ASU (21-9, 14-4 Pac-10) advanced to the semifinals for the fourth consecutive year and the fifth time in the seven-year history of the Pac-10 Tournament with an 83-64 win over Washington on Saturday. All five Sun Devil starters scored in double figures led by junior Sybil Dosty who had 17 points (7-10 FGs) and 10 rebounds to record her fourth double-double of the season. Other Sun Devils tallying double-digit scoring totals were Briann January (13 points), Lauren Lacey (12 points), Reagan Pariseau (12 points) and Jill Noe (10 points). Also coming through with contributions off the bench were Dymond Simon, who tied January for the team lead in assists with five and Kirsten Thompson, who scored six points (3-4 FGs) and led the Sun Devils with three blocks.
California (25-5, 15-3 Pac-10) is coming off a 67-60 win over Oregon in its quarterfinal on Saturday, which enabled it to set a new school single-season record for victories. Cal is led by a trio of All-Pac-10 players in the form of Devanei Hampton (first team), Ashley Walker (first team) and Alexis Gray-Lawson (second team).
This will be the second straight year that ASU and Cal have met three times in a season. The Golden Bears won the two prior meetings this season, defeating ASU 64-51 in Tempe (Jan. 17) and 70-60 in Berkeley (Feb. 14). In the first meeting ASU trailed by as many as 23 in the first half before nearly pulling off an improbable comeback getting as close as four points (40-36) with 13:21 remaining. After the Golden Bears scored five straight to increase their lead to nine points the Sun Devils could get no closer than five points the rest of the way. Briann January led the Sun Devils with 16 points. ASU registered 10 blocked shots in the game, coming within one block of tying the school record. In the rematch ASU led for much of the first half before a 19-9 Cal run gave it a 25-23 lead with a little more than two minutes left in the half. ASU stuck close to Cal for the first 10 minutes of the second half. A pair of steals by Pariseau set up back-to-back layups for January to bring ASU to within a point at 42-41 with 10:35 left. The Sun Devils would get no closer as Cal went on an 11-0 run to assume control of the game. Four Sun Devils scored in double figures led by Noe who had 16 points.
ASU's game vs. California can be seen live on Fox Sports Net. Jim Watson (play-play-play) and Mary Murphy (analysis) will call the game and Lindsay Soto will report from the sidelines. The game can also be heard live on KDUS 1060 AM and on the sundevilsportsnetwork.com (subscription-based service). Coverage of the game will begin at 11:30 a.m. in the Valley. Veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his fourth year as the voice of ASU women's basketball.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
ASU will be looking to get to the finals of the Pac-10 Tournament for the second straight season and the fourth time in the seven-year history of the event. ASU won the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament in 2002, defeating Stanford in the championship game, 70-63. It also appeared in the final in 2005 (lost to Stanford 56-42) and again last season (lost to Stanford 62-55).
ASU is the the No. 3 seed in this year's tourney. It has been seeded third on two other occasions -- 2002 (tourney champions) and 2005 (finalist). The No. 3 seed has played in the final game four times, and has won the tournament two times (ASU in 2002 and UCLA in 2006).
In the first half of their last five games the Sun Devils have outscored their opponents by an average of more than 14 points (37.2-22.6). Helping their cause have been advantages in shooting percentage (51.3-37.9), rebounding (+3.2) and turnovers (+3.8). In addition, the Sun Devils have had more than three times the number of assists (57-18) as their opponents.
ASU has a slight 26-25 edge in the all-time series history with Cal. The Sun Devils have won 13 of the last 18 meetings against Cal since the 2000-01 season, however Cal has won the last two after sweeping the regular season series. The Golden Bears won 64-51 in Tempe (Jan. 17) and 70-60 in Berkeley (Feb. 14). Sunday's game will be the second straight year and the third time overall that ASU and Cal have met in the Pac-10 Tournament. Last season it was ASU coming through with a 60-53 win in the semifinals. The Golden Bears won the initial meeting (46-38) in the first round of the 2003 Tournament.
In the final regular season Pac-10 rankings ASU was ranked in the top three in three-point FG pct. defense (1st, .260), assists (1st, 17.1 apg), assist-to-turnover ratio (2nd, 0.89), rebounding defense (2nd, 32.7 rpg), field goal percentage (2nd, .443), steals (2nd, 9.34 spg), scoring defense (3rd, 58.4 ppg), scoring margin (3rd, +6.7) and three-point FG pct (3rd, .339).
Junior post players Lauren Lacey and Sybil Dosty have collectively averaged 25.8 points and 12.4 rebounds during ASU's current five-game winning streak. They have combined to make 61 percent of their shots during that span. During that same period junior center Kirsten Thompson has connected on 58.3 percent of her shot attempts (14-24).
As a team, ASU needs three blocks to eclipse the team record of 99 set by last year's squad.Dosty (37 blocks this season) needs eight more blocks to pass Kym Hampton (1989-90 season) for third place on ASU's all-time list for most blocks in a season.
Noe (1,183 career points) needs 11 points to tie Jodi Rathbun (1983-86) for ninth place on ASU's all-time scoring list. Also one of ASU's all-time top three-point threats (134 career three-point FGs) Noe needs one three-point FG to pass Crystal Cobb (1989-94) for second on ASU's all-time list. Noe is also currently eighth on ASU's all-time assists list with 362. Currently with 366 career assists, Briann January needs five assists to move past former Sun Devil Karen O'Connor (1988-91) for sixth place on ASU's all-time list. In the steals category (currently seventh place with 189) she needs one more to pass Sandra Hamilton (1981-82) for sixth place and 10 more to move past O'Connor for fifth.
2007 PAC-10 TOURNAMENT RECAP
The Sun Devils won their first two games of the 2007 Pac-10 Tournament before eventually falling to Stanford (62-55) in the championship game. Seeded No. 2, ASU opened the tournament by defeating No. 7 seeded UCLA 74-64. Tenacious defense (forced 22 Bruin turnovers) and shooting a high number of free throws with near-perfect accuracy (26-28 for season-best 92.9 percent) helped the Sun Devils overcome what proved to be a determined UCLA squad. January led the Sun Devils with 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Also scoring in double figures for the Sun Devils were C Kirsten Thompson (14 pts, 5 rebs, 6-6 FTs) and Emily Westerberg (13 pts, 8 rebs, 5-5 FTs). ASU advanced to the championship game with a 60-53 semifinal victory over California in what head coach Charli Turner Thorne called a 'gritty' win. For the second time in as many days the Sun Devils relied on timely contributions and a stubborn defense that rose to the occasion when it mattered most. After the Golden Bears got within two points (52-50) with just over three minutes remaining, the Sun Devils closed out the contest with an 8-3 run to secure their spot in the championship game. In addition to not allowing California to score a field goal (0-3) in the game's final 180 seconds, the Sun Devils outrebounded the Golden Bears 5-1 during the game's deciding sequence. Leading ASU was Thompson, who scored all 14 of her points in the second half. Also contributing to ASU's win was senior F Emily Westerberg, who scored 12 points and had four rebounds. In the championship game ASU nearly overcame a 16-point deficit in the final five minutes before eventually falling to Stanford. January ignited a 13-0 run (accounted for nine of the 13 points) which brought the Sun Devils within three (56-53) points with 1:12 remaining. The Cardinal would hit six free throws in the final minute to clinch the win. Westerberg (12.3 points, 4.7 rebounds) was named to the All-Tournament Team.
JANUARY NAMED PAC-10 DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
There are many words which have come to be synonymous with the Sun Devil women's basketball program since Charli Turner Thorne arrived on the scene in 1996. At the top of the list would be the word defense. With that in mind it was fitting that it was an ASU player - Briann January - who was named as the first ever recipient of the Pac-10's Defensive Player of the Year award as voted on by the league's 10 head coaches. While she is one of the most explosive offensive players in the conference, January is equally effective on the defensive end of the floor where she is often disrupting the flow of opposing offenses. Often handed the assignment of defending the opposing team's top scorer, January always rises to the challenge. After finishing third in steals last season, January rose to the top of the thefts list in the Pac-10 this season, averaging 2.4 during the regular season. Eight times this season January has had four or more steals, including a career-best five steals vs. Oregon on Feb. 2. Currently seventh place on ASU's all-time steals list with 189, January needs one more to pass Sandra Hamilton (1981-82) for sixth place and 10 more to move past O'Connor for fifth.
JANUARY AND LACEY EARN ALL-PAC-10 HONORS
Juniors Briann January and Lauren Lacey were both named to the All-Pac-10 Second Team, headlining a list of five Sun Devils who were recognized by the conference. Also earning recognition from the league were seniors Jill Noe (honorable mention) and Reagan Pariseau (honorable mention/defense) and junior Sybil Dosty (honorable mention/defense).
January, who was one of five players named to the preseason All-Pac-10 team as voted on by the league's media, concluded the regular season as the Pac-10 leader in free throw percentage (.864) and steals (2.38 spg), second in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.71), third in assists (4.66 apg) and 16th in scoring (11.0 ppg). This season January, who was also named the Pac-10's Defensive Player of the Year, has scored in double figures in 20 times, including a 22-point performance against Texas (Dec. 22), which tied her career best.
After sitting out a year following her transfer in 2006 from the University of Minnesota, Lacey burst onto the scene to become ASU's most productive offensive player this season. She scored in double figures 23 times in 30 games and concluded the regular season No. 8 in the Pac-10 in scoring (12.9 ppg) and No. 7 in field goal percentage (.495). Lacey has three of the four highest single-game point totals by a Sun Devil this season. She was named the Pac-10's Player of the Week after averaging 18.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals while connecting on nearly 73 percent (16-22) of her field goal attempts in ASU's wins over Washington State (Feb. 21) and Washington (Feb. 24).
NOTES FROM THE SEASON
The 30 points Washington State scored against ASU (Feb. 21) represented the fewest number of points ever scored by a team in a Pac-10 game. It was also the 14th time since the start of last season that ASU has held an opponent under 50 points.
The Sun Devils had 21 assists in their win over Washington on Mar. 8. It's the 19th time going back to the start of last season that ASU has recorded 20 or more assists in a single game. ASU is currently ranked No. 11 in the nation in assists (17.2 apg).
ASU has held the opposition to 20 or fewer points in a half 11 times this season.
Eighteen of ASU's 30 opponents have shot 25 percent or less from three-point range.
Guard Jill Noe is the only ASU player to have started every game this season.
ASU's 10 blocks against California (Jan. 17) not only tied the (then) single-game high in the Pac-10 this season, but also fell one block short of tying the program record which was accomplished by the 1992 squad. As a team, the Sun Devils need three more blocks to break the school single-season record of 99 set by last year's squad.
The Sun Devils have had six games this season in which four players or more players have scored in double figures, most recently vs. Washington on Mar. 8 when all five starters had double-digit point totals.
In ASU's 66-42 win over UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 17), Jill Noe tallied 12 points, seven rebounds and eight assists and narrowly missed becoming the first Sun Devil to record a triple-double since Ryneldi Becenti in 1992. For Noe, it is the third such time she has flirted with the feat. Last season she recorded 17 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in a win over Northern Arizona and during her freshman season she posted 17 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in a win over Denver.
Since the start of the 2006-07 season, the Sun Devils are 37-2 when they have outrebounded their opponents. The only exceptions came this season when ASU fell to Auburn 75-69 in the championship game of the Verizon Wireless ASU Classic (held a 40-39 edge in rebounding) and when it lost to Stanford 60-56 (ASU held 39-35 rebounding advantage). As of March 8, ASU had an RPI of 30 according to CollegeRPI.com.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR CHARLI?
With its 65-57 win over USC on March 1, ASU won its 20th game of the season. And what is the significance? It marked the fourth consecutive season that ASU won at least 20 games in a season which is the first time in program history that such a streak has occurred. It was the latest `first time ...' for the Sun Devils under head coach Charli Turner Thorne, who continues to build on what is the most successful period in the program's history. Last season Turner Thorne led ASU to its first ever appearance in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. Since the 2004-05 season the Sun Devils are 101-31, including a 6-3 record in NCAA Tournament games.
In 2005-06 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 in 2005-06 Turner Thorne was recognized being named the Russell Athletic/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Region 8 Coach of the Year.
Now in her 12th 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 (179) in the Pac-10 Conference.
JANUARY PLAYS WITH MARCH STATE OF MIND
This season ASU junior guard Briann January has shown time and again the type of play that has made her one of the top players in the Pac-10 Conference. January, who was recently named the Pac-10's first ever Defensive Player of the Year in addition to the All-Pac-10 Second Team, finished the regular season as the conference leader in free throw percentage (.864) and steals (2.38 spg), third in assists (4.66 apg) and 16th in scoring (11.0 ppg).
Last season January earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors in helping lead ASU to a school record 31 wins and its first Elite Eight appearance in school history. In 2006-07, the 5-8, Spokane, Wash., product finished third in the Pac-10 in steals (2.1 per game), fourth in assists (4.0 per game) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.67), and sixth in free throw percentage (81.7). A starter in 34 games, January concluded her sophomore campaign first on the team in both assists and steals and second in both scoring (10.2 points per game) and free throw percentage.
This season January has scored in double figures in 20 times, including a 22-point performance against Texas (Dec. 22), which tied her career best. In ASU's 75-65 win at Arizona (Jan. 12), January turned in a performance that was nothing short of remarkable. After sitting out the entire week of practice with a knee injury January came off the bench to lead ASU with 19 points while connecting on all seven of her field goal attempts and both free throws, while also adding five assists, one block and one steal.
HELP IS ON THE WAY
Without question, one of the biggest challenges facing ASU coming into the 2007-08 season was figuring out how it would compensate for the loss of All-Pac-10 performers Aubree Johnson and Emily Westerberg. In addition to being responsible for a combined 23.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in 2006-07 the duo also gave ASU a strong inside presence on both ends of the floor.
Enter junior transfers Sybil Dosty and Lauren Lacey. Biding their time since they last played a meaningful game in the spring of 2006, Dosty and Lacey were two players who were very eager to get on the floor and help the Sun Devils ascend to the top. Both players got to take a bit of a test drive with their teammates in real competition during ASU's trip to Italy last May in which the Sun Devils squared off against four different teams from around the country.
Dosty spent her first two collegiate seasons at the University of Tennessee where she was part of a Final Four team her freshman year. Lacey, who transferred from the University of Minnesota, was also part of two squads that went to the NCAA Tournament.
During the Pac-10 regular season Lacey and Dosty contributed 23.0 points and 12.4 rebounds per game. The duo has collectively averaged 25.8 points and 12.4 rebounds while shooting 61 percent during ASU's current five-game winning streak.
Lacey, who was named Second-Team All-Pac-10, is currently leading the team in scoring (12.8 ppg, 14.2 ppg in Pac-10 games) and is second in rebounding (5.9 rpg). She led ASU with a (then) career-best 19 points in its win over Iowa on Nov. 23 and would surpass that total with 20 against Auburn (Dec. 2). She would again exceed her single-game career-best with a 23-point performance at Oregon (Jan. 3). Lacey would top her career best for the fourth time this season with 25 points to go along with a career-high 11 rebounds in ASU's 69-53 win over Washington (Feb. 25). The 11 field goals and 25 points are the most by a Sun Devil in both categories this season. Lacey has three of the four highest single-game point totals by a Sun Devil this season. She would go on to be named the Pac-10's Player of the Week the day following her performance against the Huskies.
The leader in field goal percentage during her two seasons at Tennessee, Dosty is currently shooting 56.2 percent from the field (third in the Pac-10). In late December Dosty averaged 17.0 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 57.9 percent in ASU's come-from-behind victories over UCLA (Dec. 28) and USC (Dec. 30). The Tucson, Ariz., native averaged 13.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in the second half of both games in helping the Sun Devils overcome an eight-point deficit against the Bruins and an 11-point deficit against USC. Dosty was recognized for her performances against the Bruins and Trojans in being named the Pac-10's Player of the Week. In Pac-10 games Dosty is third on the team in scoring (8.9 ppg) and leads the squad in rebounding (6.8 rpg). Dosty has led or tied for the team lead in rebounding 16 times this season, including eight times in ASU's last 11 games.
SUN DEVILS WORK THROUGH EARLY SEASON INJURIES
When the announcement came down on Dec. 26 that junior guard Danielle Orsillo would miss the remainder of the 2007-08 season because of a knee injury, it capped an unlucky first two months of the season in which Sun Devil players missed a combined 17 games because of injuries.
Orsillo was originally diagnosed with a bone bruise in her left knee one week after scoring a career-best 21 points in ASU's season opener at North Carolina (Nov. 11). She would go on to miss ASU's next 10 regular season games before it was determined that she would miss the rest of the season. In 2006-07 Orsillo scored in double figures 16 times and was one of four Sun Devils to play in all 36 games.
Dymond Simon, a member of the Pac-10's All-Freshman Team last season, was limited early in the season as she returned from a torn ACL she suffered in January, 2007. She was having a strong outing against Texas Tech on Dec. 13, scoring 11 points in 12 minutes before being forced to leave the game after aggravating her knee injury. She would return to the game for two minutes before leaving again. Simon would go on to miss ASU's next two games, including the Sun Devils' 62-51 loss to Texas (Dec. 20). Simon returned in time for the start of conference play and her presence on the floor has had a big impact. She scored a season-best 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting in ASU's 69-60 come-from-behind win at Oregon State (Jan. 5). She added a career-high six assists in the rematch with the Beavers on Jan. 31. At Stanford (Feb. 16) Simon scored 13 points in only 14 minutes of action before being forced to leave the game with a head injury. She remained sidelined for ASU's win against Washington State (Feb. 21) before returning for ASU's following game against Washington (Feb. 24).
Junior post Sybil Dosty injured her knee earlier this fall and was forced to miss all of ASU's preseason practices. She averaged only 12 minutes in the first four games as she was slowly worked into the rotation. During the Pac-10 season Dosty was third on the team in scoring (8.8 ppg) and first in rebounding (6.8 rpg). She was named Pac-10 Player of the Week after averaging 17.0 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 57.9 in ASU's come-from-behind victories over UCLA (Dec. 28) and USC (Dec. 30). Dosty (37 blocks this season) needs eight more blocks to pass Kym Hampton (1982-83 season) for third place on ASU's all-time list for most blocks in a season.
Junior guard Kate Engelbrecht suffered a hand injury during the first preseason practice and was forced to miss the rest of ASU's preseason workouts and its first two games. She scored a season-high eight points in ASU's win over Fresno State on Dec. 17 and had a career-best seven rebounds in ASU's win over Washington State on Jan. 26. She has connected on 53 percent of her shots (10-19) during a recent seven-game stretch.
Senior guard Reagan Pariseau missed ASU's games against Auburn (Dec. 2) and UC Davis (Dec. 9) after injuring her ankle early in ASU's win over Gonzaga on Nov. 30. She returned to action on Dec. 13 at Texas Tech and made an immediate impact, scoring nine points on 4-4 shooting. Although she was healthy for ASU's contest vs. Texas (Dec. 20), Pariseau would only play 22 minutes and was limited for much of that time after absorbing a blow to the head early in the game. Then, midway through the second half, Jill Noe, who came into the Texas game averaging 14 points in her previous five games, was forced to leave the game because of an ankle injury.