ASU Women's Basketball Hosts Arizona on Saturday at Noon

Jan. 22, 2009

UP NEXT

Winners of their last four games, the Arizona State women's basketball team resumes play on Saturday (noon MT) when it hosts Arizona in a game being nationally televised by Fox Sports Net.

The Sun Devils are coming off a pair of wins over the LA schools last weekend after defeating UCLA 68-44 and USC 81-73. Junior Dymond Simon led ASU, averaging 18.0 points and 5.0 assists in the two games, including a season-best 22 points against USC on Saturday. Also contributing to the wins were senior Kirsten Thompson, who scored a season-high 12 points against UCLA, senior Sybil Dosty, who had 13 points and seven rebounds in the win over USC, junior Danielle Orsillo, who scored 15 of her season-high 19 points in the second half against USC and senior Briann January, who averaged 9.5 points, 4.5 assists and was a perfect 12-12 from the line in the two wins.

Arizona (7-10, 0-6 Pac-10) has lost all six of its Pac-10 contests after it had won seven of its 11 non-conference games. The Wildcats, who are under the direction of first-year head coach Niya Butts, had a season-long four-game winning streak just prior to the start of conference play. Four of their six loss in the Pac-10 have been by 10 points or less, including a 77-71 overtime setback to USC on Jan. 15. The Wildcats have been led throughout the season by sophomore forward Iffy Ibekwe, who is averaging a double-double (15.8 points, 12.3 rebounds). She is currently second in the Pac-10 in scoring and first in rebounding.

GOLD GAME ON SATURDAY

Be there, be loud and WEAR GOLD this Saturday for the women's basketball game vs. Arizona. All fans who wear gold to the game will receive $3 admission. The first 500 fans to enter Wells Fargo Arena will receive gold pom poms.

ON THE AIR

ASU's game vs. Arizona can be seen live on Fox Sports Net. Jim Watson (play-play-play) and Mary Murphy (analysis) will call the game The contest can also be heard live on 1440 AM. Coverage will begin at 11:30 a.m. Valley veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his fifth year as the voice of ASU women's basketball.

SERIES NOTES

Arizona State leads the all-time series with Arizona 42-25, including a 23-11 advantage in games played in Tempe. ASU has won eight of the last nine meetings against the Wildcats. ASU's only loss during that span came in 2005 when it fell to the Wildcats 56-49 in Tucson. Last season the Sun Devils swept both contests for the third consecutive season, winning 75-65 in Tucson and 67-64 in Tempe. Briann January averaged 16.5 points and 5.5 assists in the two contests. January scored 19 (7-7 FGs, 2-2 FTs) in the first game in which she did not start after missing the week of practice with a knee injury. In the second meeting the Sun Devils made 12-15 FTs in the final 5:42 to hold off a gritty Arizona squad. Neither team led by more than seven points in the game.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

• The Sun Devils have won 80 percent (48-12) of their Pac-10 contests since the 2005-06 season. On Saturday the Sun Devils are home where they are 34-6 (.850) since the 2004-05 season.

• The Sun Devils currently lead the Pac-10 in three-point FG percent (.399) and rebounds allowed per game (29.7) and are second in field goal percentage (.454), blocked shots (4.0 bpg), assists (17.9 apg), turnover margin (+4.2), steals (11.0 spg) and assist-to-turnover ratio. In the most recent NCAA statistics (Jan. 18), ASU was fourth in assists per game and fifth in three-point FG percentage.

• A win on Saturday would match ASU's longest winning streak of the 2007-08 season (5 games), which they accomplished three different times last season.

• During ASU's current four-game winning streak the Sun Devils have allowed only 51.0 points per game. In addition, the opposition has shot only 19.4 percent from three-point range (6-31). The Sun Devils have forced an average of 21.5 turnovers per game and have held a plus-seven advantage in rebounding (37.0-30.0).

• In Pac-10 play ASU has three of the top seven leaders -- Danielle Orsillo (second), Briann January (third) and Dymond Simon (seventh) -- in assist-to-turnover ratio. During ASU's winning streak the trio has combined for 55 assists and only 20 turnovers.

• With five assists against California on Jan. 4, senior guard Briann January became ASU's all-time assists leader. January currently has 466 assists in her career. With 237 career steals January is currently second on ASU's all-time list. Entering Saturday's game, January leads the Pac-10 in assists (5.3 apg, No. 32 in the nation), steals (2.5 spg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (No. 11 in the nation) and is second in 3-point FG pct. (.440, No. 12 in the nation).

• Junior guard Dymond Simon has averaged 14.5 points in her last eight games. Last weekend Simon averaged 18.0 points and 5.0 assists in wins over UCLA and USC.

• Senior forward Lauren Lacey is currently No. 2 in the Pac-10 in FG percentage in conference games (.625).

• ASU's leading rebounder last season, senior Sybil Dosty has continued to lead the Sun Devils in boards this season and is currently sixth in the Pac-10, averaging 7.5 rebounds per game.

RESERVATIONS FOR THREE

Coming into the 2008-09 season, ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said she expected the Sun Devils to have an improved perimeter game from last season when they shot slightly more than 33 percent from beyond the arc. 'We were an ok perimeter shooting team last year; but not great,' Turner Thorne said before the season. 'I think this might be one of the best perimeter shooting teams we have had in my tenure at ASU.' Thus far it would appear the Sun Devils have proven Turner Thorne right as they are currently first in the Pac-10 and No. 5 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (.399). Currently with 101 three-point FGs this season the Sun Devils are on pace to shatter the school's single-season record of 135 triples set by the 2004-05 team. Leading the way are guards Briann January (37), Dymond Simon (25) and Danielle Orsillo (16), who have combined for 78 of ASU's 101 triples.

YOU CAN'T SPELL DEVILS WITHOUT `D'

If there is one thing ASU head coach Charli Turner Throrne's teams have become known for over the years it is defense. The Sun Devils offered another reminder of their excellence in defending on Dec. 6 when they defeated UC Irvine 75-23 to set the single-game Pac-10 record for the fewest points ever allowed by a Pac-10 team. It's the second time in as many seasons that the Sun Devils have set a conference record for fewest points in a game. Last season the Sun Devils set the standard for the fewest points allowed in a Pac-10 game in their 59-30 win over Washington State. Since the 2005-06 season the Sun Devils have held the opposition to 50 or fewer points 23 times. This season the Sun Devils have accounted for several single-game defensive superlatives in the Pac-10, including fewest points (23), lowest field goal percentage (.209), fewest field goals (9 - tied with Oregon State), fewest field goal attempts (38), fewest three-point field goals made (0 - twice) and attempted (2) and fewest rebounds (19 - twice). In addition, the Sun Devils have held the opposition to 20 or fewer points in a half eight times this season, including their win over Oregon State (Jan. 8) in which the Sun Devils held the Beavers to 14 points in the second half to turn a four-point halftime lead (26-22) into a 25-point win (61-36).

IT'S BETTER TO GIVE THAN RECEIVE

Finishing 12th in the country in any statistical category would usually be considered great by most standards. That is unless of course a team is used to higher standards. After finishing among the nation's top 5 in assists in 2005-06 and 2006-07, the Sun Devils slipped to 12th last season. If the season's first 18 games are any indication it would appear that the Sun Devils have returned to the nation's elite in the category. Currently ASU is fourth in the country averaging 17.9 assists per game. The Sun Devils have dished out 20 or more assists six times this season, including a season-best 30 assists vs. Northern Arizona (Dec. 7), the second-highest single-game total in the Pac-10 this season.

SIMON SAYS ...

Like fellow guard Danielle Orsillo, junior Dymond Simon knows the experience of having to rebound from a season ending injury. In 2006-07, Simon quickly made a name for herself as one of the top freshman in the Pac-10 before a knee injury ended her season midway through the conference season. In 2007-08 Simon played in 30 games, as she tirelessly worked to regain her high level of play while at the same time still enduring effects from the injury. By the time last March rolled around Simon was once again at the top of her game, earning All-Pac-10 Tournament recognition after averaging 14.5 points and 3.5 assists in ASU's two tournament games, including a season-best 22 points in the semifinals against Cal. Fast forward to this season and Simon, who has averaged 14.5 points in her last eight games, has helped to give the Sun Devils one of the top backcourts in the country. Simon has scored in double figures 14 times in 17 games this season, including a season-best 22 points vs. USC (Jan. 17). She is currently first on the team in scoring (13.2 ppg), is second to fellow guard Briann January in three-point FGs (25) and assists (3.2 apg) and is first in the Pac-10 in free throw shooting percentage (.896).

JANUARY CONTINUES TO DISTINGUISH HERSELF AS ONE OF THE BEST IN THE COUNTRY

Undoubtedly one of the integral components of ASU's success in recent years has been the play of senior Briann January. Since she arrived in Tempe in 2005, the 5-8 guard from Spokane, Wash., has proven time and again to be one of the most explosive players in the nation on both ends of the floor. Last season January was named the first ever Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in addition to earning Second-Team All-Pac-10 honors for a campaign in which she finished first in the Pac-10 in steals (2.18 spg) and free throw percentage (.864), third in assists (4.39 apg), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio and 15th in scoring. Earlier this season January was recognized for her outstanding play in being one of six women's college basketball players around the country to share (along with All-America candidate sophomore James Harden from the Arizona State men's basketball team) a regional cover on Sports Illustrated's College Basketball Preview. Thus far in 2008 January has experienced anything but an SI jinx as she currently leads the Pac-10 in assists per game (5.3), steals per game (2.6) and assist to turnover ratio, is second in three-point FG pct (.440), fourth in 3-point FGs per game (2.1) and free throw pct. (.844) and 11th in scoring (12.2 ppg). Already ASU's all-time leader in career assists (466), January is steadily making her way up the list of ASU's all-time leaders in steals and free throws. Currently she is second in steals (237, needs 54 steals to catch all-time leader Cassandra Lander) and third in free throws (354, needs 34 to pass Kym Hampton for second place).

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 in November. 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.

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