No. 18 ASU Women's Basketball Faces Oklahoma in WNIT Semifinals
Nov. 21, 2008
The No. 18 Arizona State women's basketball team (2-0) returns to action on Friday night (7 p.m. CT/6 p.m. MT) when it travels to Norman, Okla., to take on the second-ranked Oklahoma Sooners in the semifinals of the 2008 Preseason WNIT. The winner of Friday night's contest earns a trip to the championship game on Sunday where fourth-ranked North Carolina currently awaits. If the Sun Devils should prevail against the Sooners they would be traveling to Chapel Hill for the championship game.
The Sun Devils arrived at Friday's game after defeating Cleveland State (76-59) and Tulane (86-53) in the first two rounds of the WNIT. Four Sun Devils averaged double figures in last weekend's contests led by senior center Sybil Dosty (13.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg), who connected on nearly 69 percent of her shots (11-16). Also averaging double figures last weekend were junior guard Dymond Simon (12.5 ppg) and senior guards Kate Engelbrecht and Briann January who both averaged 11.0 points. Engelbrecht was successful on 67 percent of her shot attempts (8-12), including a perfect 3-3 from both three-point range and the free throw line while also averaging four steals. January averaged 7.5 assists in the two contests while reaching the free throw line a team-high times 12 times (9-12, 75 percent).
The Sooners earned the right to play in Friday's semifinal by defeating UC Riverside (88-57) and Middle Tennessee (85-65). Junior forward Amanda Thompson (16.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.0 bpg), senior forward Ashley Paris (16.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg) and senior All-American Courtney Paris (15.5 ppg, 13.5 rpg) have been pacing the Sooners' attack in their first two games.
Friday's game will be a rematch of last year's contest won by Oklahoma 69-57, which was played as part of the Caribbean Challenge in Cancun, Mexico. The Sooners built a 40-18 first-half lead and kept the Sun Devils at a comfortable distance for most of the game. Courtney Paris had 16 points and 19 rebounds, while her sister, Ashley, added 21 for the Sooners.
The No. 18 Arizona State women’s basketball team’s WNIT semifinal game against second-ranked Oklahoma on Friday night can seen live on a free webcast on ASU’s All-Access channel on thesundevils.com.
The webcast, which is being provided by the University of Oklahoma, is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. MT on Friday.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• ASU returns 11 players, including three starters -- guards Briann January and senior posts Sybil Dosty and Lauren Lacey -- from last season's which went 22-11 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
• The Sun Devils were ranked No. 17 and No. 18 in the preseason polls for the Associated Press and ESPN/WBCA Coaches, respectively. The Sun Devils were picked to finish third in the Pac-10 by both the coaches and the media. The Sun Devils moved up to 17th in the coaches' poll this week, however fell one spot to 18th in the media poll despite winning both of their contests by double digits.
• The Sun Devils are 21-5 in their last 26 road games going back to the second half of the 2005-06 season. • ASU is seeking its third 3-0 start in the last four years.
• The Sun Devils are making their first ever appearance in the WNIT.
• Friday's game will be only the third ever meeting between ASU and Oklahoma. The Sun Devils defeated the Sooners 87-76 in 1997, Charli Turner Thorne's second season as ASU's head coach. The Sooners evened the series with their 69-57 win over ASU in last year's Caribbean Challenge in Cancun, Mexico.
• Junior Kayli Murphy remains sidelined with a hand injury she sustained during the first week of official workouts in October. Murphy played in every game for the Sun Devils each of the last two seasons. NOTES FROM ASU'S WIN OVER TULANE
• The Sun Devils scored the first 12 points of the game and did not allow Tulane to score a basket until the 14:49 mark of the first half.
• Freshman G Alex Earl made her Sun Devil debut.
• Senior guard Kate Engelbrecht had a career-best 13 points while freshman Becca Tobin set a new career high in rebounds (10) for the second consecutive game. Also coming through with career numbers against the Green Wave was senior guard Nia Fanaika. Fanaikla established new career standards for points (8), field goals (3) and assists (3).
JANUARY NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-PAC-10 TEAM
Arizona State senior guard Briann January was one of five players named to the preseason All-Pac-10 team. The team was chosen by members of the conference's women's basketball media. January is coming off a season in which she earned Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and Second-Team All-Pac-10 honors in helping the Sun Devils qualify for the NCAA Tournament for a fourth consecutive season.
Currently in fifth place on ASU's all-time assist list with 386, January needs 56 assists to become ASU's all-time assists leader. In other career categories, January enters is ranked No. 2 in free throw percentage (.829), sixth in steals (196 - needs five more to move into fifth place), and seventh in free throws made (309 -- needs four more to move into sixth place).
Other members of the preseason All-Pac-10 Team included (junior F/C) Jayne Appel and (sophomore F) Kayla Pedersen of Stanford and (senior F/C) Devanei Hampton and (senior F) Ashley Walker of Cal.
ORSILLO RETURNS READY FOR THE SEASON
Without question one of the biggest adjustments for the Sun Devils last season was playing without Danielle Orsillo. Orsillo earned Pac-10 Freshman Honorable Mention honors in 2006 and took her game to an even high level the following season, culminating in being named to the All-Greensboro Regional All-Tournament Team when the Sun Devil faced Bowling Green (Sweet Sixteen) and Rutgers (Elite Eight) in the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
Last season Orsillo was poised for an even bigger season. It appeared the sky would be the limit for her after scoring a career-best 21 points in the Sun Devils' season opener at North Carolina. Unfortunately it would be the only game Orsillo would play last season as she was diagnosed with a season ending knee injury shortly after her breakout performance against the Tar Heels.
This season Orsillo is expected to be back at full strength which is exciting news for the Sun Devils. 'It's so great to have Danielle back and it is so hard to tell that she missed a year' said ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne. 'Danielle is definitely getting back to 100 percent fitness level where she wants. She is rebounding, she is putting the ball in the basket, she has great chemistry with her older teammates. Just to have her energy and that go-getter mentality back is going to be exciting. And it is going to help this team this year.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR CHARLI?
When Arizona State had its named called on Selection Monday last March it marked the fourth consecutive season that the Sun Devils had earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament, the longest such streak in program history. 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 fourth consecutive 20-win season, also a `first' in school history. In 2007 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 104-33, including a 7-4 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 13th 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 (182) in the Pac-10 Conference.
SUN DEVILS SIGN THREE
Two local standouts who have achieved exceptional success and a top-notch guard from California highlighted the 2008 women's basketball signing class for Arizona State announced by Sun Devil head coach Charli Turner Thorne on Nov. 12.
Joy Burke, Deja Mann and Markisha Patterson all signed letters of intent to study and play basketball at ASU.
A 6-foot-5 post player, Burke was named to The Arizona Republic's All-Arizona team in 2008 in addition to earning second-team All-Tribune honors from the East Valley Tribune following a season in which she led Tempe Marcos de Niza to the state quarterfinals. During her decorated junior season, Burke averaged 19.8 points, 14.5 rebounds and 5.5 blocks per game.
A 5-foot-8 combo guard, Mann will be joining the Sun Devils from Merced High School in Merced, Calif. Mann, who was sidelined because of injury her junior season, had an outstanding sophomore campaign in which she averaged nearly 16 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists per game on her way to being named the Central California Conference MVP. Mann, who averaged 14.1 points per game as a freshman, also starred on the Modesto Magic club team this past summer. An outstanding shooter, Mann ranked No. 25 on hoopgurlz.com's best 'Gunners' of the summer.
A 5-foot-8 guard, Patterson will be coming to ASU from Central Arizona College where last season she helped lead her team to a runner-up finish at the National Junior College Athletic Association championships. Known as a defensive specialist at Central Arizona, Patterson is very familiar with what it takes to win championships. In 2007, she helped lead Tolleson High School to the Class 5A Division II state title after she scored 19 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in the championship game.