ASU Women's Basketball Hosts Washington State on Saturday in Final Home Game of the Season
Feb. 28, 2009
Coming off one of its best defensive performances of the season, the No. 24 Arizona State women's basketball team returns to action on Saturday (4 p.m.) when it hosts Washington State in ASU's final home game of the 2008-09 season.
The Sun Devils (21-6, 13-2 Pac-10) extended their current school record winning streak to 13 games with their 55-32 win over Washington on Thursday night. The Sun Devils defense set the tone right from the start as it did not allow the Huskies to get on the scoreboard until more than 10 minutes had gone by in the first half. ASU held Washington to eight first half points, the fewest points ever allowed by ASU in half of basketball. Offensively, Danielle Orsillo led ASU with 10 points (3-6 FGs) while fellow guard Kate Engelbrecht connected on all four of her field goal attempts and ended up with nine points.
Washington State (11-16, 4-12 Pac-10) is coming off a 63-56 win at Arizona on Thursday. Three Cougars scored in double figures led by freshman guard Danielle LeNoir, who scored 15 points. Offensively the Cougars are led by fresh guards Jazmine Perkins (14.1 ppg) and April Cook (13.3 ppg), who rank fourth and 10th, respectively, in the Pac-10 in scoring.
The Sun Devils and Cougars will be facing one another for the second time in just under a month. In the first meeting on Jan. 29 in Pullman, Wash., Dymond Simon scored 14 points and Becca Tobin added a career-high 13 points as ASU defeated Washington State 66-47. Simon (12 points) and Tobin (nine points) combined for 21 of their 27 points in the second half as the Sun Devils shot 50 percent over the final 20 minutes while limiting Washington State to 33 percent.
Saturday's contest will be the final home game for Sun Devil seniors Sybil Dosty, Kate Engelbrecht, Nia Fanaika, Briann January, Lauren Lacey and Kirsten Thompson. Over the last three-plus seasons they have combined to help the Sun Devils win 99 games and have been a part of the most successful era in Sun Devil women's basketball history, which includes ASU's current string of four consecutive NCAA Tournament berths and the school's only appearance in the Elite Eight in 2007. Each of ASU's six seniors will be honored in a ceremony following Saturday's game.
ON THE AIR
Arizona State's game vs. Washington State can be heard live on The Fan AM 1060 and on the Sun Devil Sports Network (subscription-based service that can be accessed via www.thesundevils.com). Pre-game coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m. Valley veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his fifth year as the voice of ASU women's basketball.
ASU holds a 33-12 advantage in the all-time series with Washington State and has won 22 of the last 23 meetings with the Cougars. The Sun Devils have won the last 11 meetings in Tempe, including last year's 59-30 win in which the Sun Devils set the Pac-10 record for the fewest points ever allowed in a Pac-10 game. Washington State's only win in the last 22 meetings was a 75-72 win in Pullman on February 28, 2004. Lauren Lacey (11.5 ppg), Sybil Dosty (10.0 ppg) and Kirsten Thompson (7.5 ppg) combined to average 28.5 points in both of ASU's wins over Washington State last season.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
ASU is currently on a school record 13-game winning streak. Among teams ranked in this week's AP Top 25, only No. 1 Connecticut (28) and has won more consecutive games than ASU. No. 21 South Dakota State is also on a 12-game winning streak.
Currently 21-6, the Sun Devils have now won 20 or more games seven times in the last nine seasons, including the last five in a row. ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne joins former Washington head coach Chris Gobrecht and current Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer as the only other coaches in Pac-10 history (since the 1986-87 season) to have led their respective schools to five (or more) consecutive 20-win seasons.
ASU has won nearly 83 percent (57-12) of its Pac-10 contests since the 2005-06 season. On Saturday the Sun Devils are at home where they are a combined 38-6 since the 2004-05 season.
Saturday's game will be the final home game for Sun Devil seniors Sybil Dosty, Kate Engelbrecht, Nia Fanaika, Briann January, Lauren Lacey and Kirsten Thompson. They have combined to help the Sun Devils win 99 games and have been a part of the most successful era in Sun Devil women's basketball history, which includes ASU's current string of four consecutive NCAA Tournament berths and the school's only appearance in the Elite Eight in 2007.
In the most recent NCAA statistics (Feb. 27), ASU was fourth in the nation in three-point FG percentage (.398), fifth in the nation in assists per game (17.1), 11th in field goal percentage (.457), 19th in scoring margin (+14.6) and 24th in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.98). The Sun Devils currently lead the Pac-10 in free throw percentage (.743), three-point FG percentage (.397) and turnover margin (+4.0) and are second in field goal percentage (.457), rebounds allowed per game (31.2), assists per game (17.2), blocked shots per game (4.4), steals per game (19.7) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.98).
During ASU's current 13-game winning streak the Sun Devils have allowed only 52.5 points per game and are outscoring their opponents by an average of 16.9 points. In addition, ASU is allowing an average of only 22.1 points in the first half of their last 13 games. In the first half Thursday's win vs. Washington the Sun Devils set a school record for the fewest points ever allowed in a half (8).
ASU is shooting 80.3 percent from the line in its last seven games, more than six percentage points higher than its 74.1 clip for the season.
Five of ASU's six losses this season have come to teams currently ranked in the top 17 of the current Associated Press poll - No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Stanford, No. 4 California, No. 16 Texas and No. 17 Florida - including three of the current AP Top 5. Three of those five losses - Florida (65-60), Stanford (64-61) and California (54-53) - came by a combined nine points.
In their win over Oregon State on Feb. 7, the Sun Devils broke the school single-season record for most blocks (102). ASU currently has 120 rejections on the season.
In their win vs. Washington on Feb. 26, ASU broke the single-season record for most 3-point field goals (135). ASU has now made 137 3-pointers this season.
Post players Becca Tobin (22-30, .733), Kirsten Thompson (8-16, .500), Sybil Dosty (24-44, .545) and Kayli Murphy (14-25, .560) are shooting a combined 59 percent (68-115) in ASU's last eight games. Tobin has connected on 67.4 percent (29-43) of her shot attempts during ASU's current 13-game winning streak.
Dymond Simon, who was named the Pac-10's Player of the Week on Feb. 9, has led the Sun Devils in scoring during their current winning streak (15.8 ppg).
With five assists against California on Jan. 4, January became ASU's all-time assists leader. She currently has 498 assists in her career. With 255 career steals January is currently second on ASU's all-time list. Entering this Saturday's games, January is third in the nation in 3-point FG percentage (.471) and 15th in assist-to-turnover ratio. She leads the Pac-10 in assists (4.7 apg) and 3-point FG percentage (.470), is second in steals (2.3 spg) and assist-to-turnover ratio, third in free throw percentage (.843) and 13th in scoring (12.5 ppg).
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 7.3 rebounds per game. Currently third on ASU's all-time list with 80 career blocks, Dosty needs 20 blocks to pass Fran Ciak (1987-90) for second place on the list.
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. 4 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (.397). Currently with 137 3-point FGs this season the Sun Devils have already broken the previous school record of 135 triples set by the 2004-05 team. Leading the way are guards Briann January (56), Dymond Simon (32) and Danielle Orsillo (23), who have combined for 111 of ASU's 137 triples. Earlier this season the Sun Devils hit a school record 14 3-pointers in a 73-59 win at UC Davis. Leading the way was January, who tied the school record with seven makes from downtown.
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 25 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 - twice), most blocks (10 - tied with Arizona) and fewest rebounds (19 - twice - tied with Oregon State). In addition, the Sun Devils have held the opposition to 20 or fewer points in a half 11 times this season, including their win over Washington (Feb. 26) in which the Sun Devils held the Huskies to eight points in the first half, setting the school record for the fewest points ever allowed in a half.
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. Through 27 games it would appear that the Sun Devils have returned to the nation's elite in the category. Currently ASU is fifth in the country averaging 17.1 assists per game. The Sun Devils have dished out 20 or more assists seven 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.
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.
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 2008-09 January has experienced anything but an SI jinx as she currently leads the Pac-10 in assists per game (4.7) and 3-point FG percentage (.471), is second in assist to turnover ratio and steals per game (2.3), third in free throw percent (.843) and fourth in 3-point FGs per game (2.1). Already ASU's all-time leader in career assists (494), January is steadily making her way up the list of ASU's all-time leaders in steals, free throws and points. Currently she is second in steals (255, needs 36 steals to catch all-time leader Cassandra Lander), third in free throws (375, needs 13 to pass Kym Hampton for second place) and ninth in scoring (needs nine points to pass Karen O'Connor for eighth place). Currently with 56 3-point field goals, January needs five more triples to break ASU's single-season record of 60 set by Amanda Levens in 2000-01.
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 has helped to give the Sun Devils one of the top backcourts in the country. Simon has scored in double figures 22 times in 26 games this season, including a season-best 22 points vs. USC (Jan. 17). On Feb. 2 Simon was named the Pac-10's Player of the Week after averaging 15.5 points and 4.5 assists in wins at Washington State and at Washington. She is currently first on the team in scoring (13.9 ppg), is second to fellow guard Briann January in three-point FGs (32) and assists (3.4 apg) and is first in the Pac-10 and seventh in the nation in free throw shooting percentage (.889).
THE CENTER OF ATTENTION
One of the central figures in the success of ASU's interior game has been center Sybil Dosty. The senior from Tucson, Ariz., transferred to ASU in 2005 after spending her first two seasons at the University of Tennessee. In her first season as a Sun Devil in 2007-08 Dosty finished first on the team in both rebounding (6.4 rpg) and field goal percentage (.540) while at the same time accumulating the fourth-highest single-season block total (40) in school history. This season Dosty has continued to build on last year's success as she currently leads the team in rebounding (7.3 rpg) and blocks (1.5 bpg), is second in field goal percent (.544) and third in scoring (8.7 ppg). At her current rebounding pace Dosty would become only the third Sun Devil since 1996 to average more than seven rebounds per game. Currently third on ASU's all-time list with 80 career blocks, Dosty needs 20 blocks to pass Fran Ciak (1987-90) for second place on the list. Dosty's 40 blocks this season currently rank fourth in ASU's single-season annals. She needs five blocks to move into third place.