ASU Women's Basketball Faces Georgia in NCAA First Round on Saturday

March 19, 2009

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The 19th-ranked Arizona State women's basketball team opens play in the 2009 NCAA Tournament on Saturday when it faces the Georgia Lady Bulldogs out of the Southeastern Conference. Tip-off is scheduled for noon ET (9 a.m. in Arizona).

For the second time in as many years the Sun Devils' initial NCAA assignment sends them east as they will face the Lady Bulldogs in Duluth, Ga. While they won't be logging the 2,000 miles they did on their journey to College Park, Md., for last year's first and second rounds, they'll still have plenty of time to get comfortable on the three-hour plane ride from Phoenix to Atlanta.

ASU (23-8, 15-3 Pac-10) enters this year's edition of the tournament as the sixth seed in the Trenton Regional. Facing some of the toughest competition in the country the Sun Devils got off to somewhat of a sluggish 8-6 start, which included a three-game losing streak and losses in their first two Pac-10 contests. The squad's early trials would give way to big-time success as it reeled off a school record 15 consecutive wins. The Sun Devils punctuated the streak with a convincing 22-point victory at then-No. 9 California on March 5, which put them in position to play for a share of the Pac-10 title in the regular season finale at second-ranked Stanford. It was in that contest that fate dealt the Sun Devils a harsh blow as leading scorer Dymond Simon was lost for the season with a knee injury. The Sun Devils lost to Stanford 77-68 and less than a week later were upset by USC 70-65 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament.

Georgia (18-13, 7-7 SEC) is the 11th seed in the Trenton Regional. Led by Hall of Fame head coach Andy Landers, the Lady Bulldogs will be making their 15th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Included among Georgia's 18 wins this season are triumphs over Auburn (second seed in Oklahoma City Regional), SEC Tournament champion Vanderbilt and Florida, which spent much of the season in the Top 25. The Lady Bulldogs are led by a pair of 2009 second-team All-SEC standouts - junior guard Ashley Houts (12.2 ppg, 4.7 apg) and RS-junior Angel Robinson (11.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg).

The ASU-Georgia winner will meet the winner of Saturday's second contest between third-seeded Florida State (25-7, 12-2 ACC) and 14th-seeded North Carolina A&T (26-6, 15-1 MEAC) on Monday night.

TELEVISION/RADIO

ASU's game vs. Georgia can be seen live on ESPN2. Mark Jones (play-by-play) and Jimmy Dykes (analysis) will call the game. The game can also be heard live on KAZG 1440 AM and on the sundevilsportsnetwork.com (subscription-based service). Coverage of the game will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Valley. Veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his fifth year as the voice of ASU women's basketball.

MEDIA INFORMATION

During their time in the Atlanta area the Sun Devils will be staying at the Marriott Atlanta Norcross (475 Technology Parkway, Norcross, GA 30092, 770/263-8558). Associate Media Relations Director Steve Rodriguez (cell: 480/254-2489) will be with the team throughout its stay and should be contacted for any media requests outside of those already organized by the NCAA.

ASU IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT

• Arizona State is making its 10th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance and its seventh in the last nine seasons.

• ASU's overall record in the NCAA Tournament is 10-9, including an 8-6 record under Charli Turner Thorne.

• This is the third time that ASU has been a No. 6 seed. The Sun Devils were the No. 6 seed in the Midwest Region in 1992 when they lost to host school DePaul in the first round, 67-65 and again last season in the Oklahoma City Regional. In 2008 they were sent to College Park, Md., for the first two rounds where they defeated 11th-seeded Temple 61-54 in the first round before falling to third-seeded Duke 67-59 in the second round. 

• ASU's highest NCAA seed in school history is No. 3, which came in 2007 when it was placed in the Greensboro Regional.

• Prior to its Elite Eight berth in 2007, the furthest ASU had reached was the round of 16 (1982, 1983 and 2005). In both 1982 and `83, the fourth-seeded Sun Devils lost to the eventual national champion in the round of 16 (Louisiana Tech in 1982 and USC in 1983). 

• As a No. 4 seed in 2006 ASU defeated Stephen F. Austin in the first round in Tucson (80-61) before falling to Utah in the second round (65-86). 

• As the No. 5 seed in the Tempe Regional in 2005 the Sun Devils advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 22 years after upsetting fourth-seeded Notre Dame, 70-61. In that game the Sun Devils overcame a 13-point first half deficit. In the Sweet 16 against UNC, the Sun Devils led by as many as 10 points and were within two points, 62-60, with 9:29 remaining before the Tar Heels closed out the game with a 17-12 run.

• 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 sixth-seeded LSU in the first round. Turner Thorne earned her first victory in the NCAA Tournament the following year after the ninth-seeded Sun Devils defeated eighth-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.

2008 NCAA Tournament RECAP - COLLEGE PARK, MD.

After an injury-plagued preseason combined with one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country led to a 6-5 start, the Sun Devils responded with a trio of five-game winning streaks over the next two months to secure their fourth consecutive 20-win season. As a result the Sun Devils were rewarded with their fourth straight NCAA Tournament berth, earning a No. 6 seed in the Oklahoma City Regional. For the first two rounds the Sun Devils were assigned to the College Park, Md. subregional. Their first tournament assignment came in the form of the Temple Owls. After playing Temple on even terms for the first 20 minutes (26-26), the Sun Devils opened the second half with a 13-0 run to take command of the game on their way to a 61-54 win. Lauren Lacey led ASU with 14 points while Jill Noe had 12 and Briann January had 10. In the second round game the Sun Devils met third-seeded Duke. An 18-5 Duke run in the second half put the Blue Devils up 47-34 with 11:19 remaining. No sooner was it that the Sun Devils countered with a 12-4 run of their own to close to 56-53 and eventually 59-57. However ASU could pull no closer as the Blue Devils advanced with a 63-57 win. Three Sun Devils scored in double figures led by January, who had 17 points. Lacey added 13 and Dymond Simon had 11.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

• The active players on ASU's current roster have combined to play in 52 NCAA Tournament games.

• ASU is 5-1 in NCAA first round games under head coach Charli Turner Thorne. Turner Thorne's only first round loss came in her NCAA debut when the 11th-seeded Sun Devils were knocked off by sixth-seeded LSU.

• ASU will be facing Georgia in a venue which is located less than an hour's drive from the UGA campus in Athens. In what will be something of a home game for the Lady Bulldogs, the Sun Devils counter with a record that has seen them win 70 percent (37-16) of their contests away from home (road and neutral) the last three seasons, including wins in 74 percent (26-9) of their games on the road. In Pac-10 play the Sun Devils have won 27 of their last 31 road games.

• The Sun Devils have won three of their four all-time meetings with Georgia, including the last three in a row. This will be the second time the Sun Devils and Lady Bulldogs have met in NCAA competition. ASU's first ever NCAA Tournament game was a 97-77 win over Georgia in the opening round of the 1982 Midwest Region at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe. Charli Turner Thorne is 2-0 against Georgia in her time at ASU. The Sun Devils defeated then-14th-ranked Georgia 74-70 at home in 2002 and again in Athens in 2004 (67-57) when Georgia was ranked 11th.

• ASU will commence play in the NCAA Tournament without junior guard and leading scorer Dymond Simon, who suffered a season ending injury in ASU's regular season finale at Stanford (Mar. 7). Saturday's game against Georgia will be only the third time the Sun Devils have played without Simon this season. ASU defeated Xaiver 75-57 in December in a game which Simon had to sit out after injuring her foot in practice the day before the game. The Sun Devils lost their first contest since Simon's season ending injury to USC 70-65 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament. Simon, who last week earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors, scored in double figures 24 times in 29 games.

• With five assists against California on Jan. 4, senior guard Briann January became ASU's all-time assists leader. She currently has 515 assists in her career. With 259 career steals January is currently second on ASU's all-time list. January concluded the regular season ranked second in the nation in 3-point FG percentage (.469) and 12th in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.09). She led the Pac-10 in assists per game (4.7), 3-point FG percentage (.469) and assist to turnover ratio, was second in steals per game (2.3), fourth in free throw percent (.840) and 3-point FGs per game (2.0) and 14th in scoring (12.1 ppg). In ASU's Pac-10 Tournament quarterfinal against USC, January broke the school's single-season record for most 3-pointers (60), set by Amanda Levens in 2000-01). January now has 61 3-pointers this season. Last week January was named first-team All-Pac-10 and the Pac-10's Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. 

• ASU's leading rebounder last season, senior Sybil Dosty has continued to lead the Sun Devils in boards this season. The Tucson, Ariz., native concluded the regular season ranked sixth in the Pac-10 in rebounding (7.0 rpg). 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.

• Eight of junior guard Danille Orsillo's 14 double-figure scoring games have come in ASU's last 11 contests.

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.' The Sun Devils would prove Turner Thorne's prediction to be correct as they concluded the regular season first in the Pac-10 and No. 2 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (.403). Currently with 159 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 (61), Dymond Simon (37) and Danielle Orsillo (29), who have combined for 127 of ASU's 159 triples. Earlier this season the Sun Devils hit a school record 14 3-pointers in a 73-59 win at UC Davis. January paced the Sun Devils as she tied the school record with seven makes from downtown. Her 61 treys this season are an ASU single-season record.

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 27 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 - 3x) 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 14 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. Six of ASU's nine Pac-10 opponents either scored their fewest points of the season against ASU or tied for their lowest point total of the season: Arizona (38), California (41), Oregon State (36), UCLA (44), Washington (32) and Washington State (35). In Pac-10 play the Sun Devils led the league allowing only 53.0 points per game.

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. This season the Sun Devils would return to the nation's elite in the category as they concluded the regular season ranked No. 5 in the country (17.0 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.

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 guard 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 (was featured 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. 

In 2008-09 January experienced anything but an SI jinx as she repeated as the Pac-10's Defensive Player of the Year and was named first-team All-Pac-10. She concluded the regular season first in the Pac-10 in assists per game (4.7), 3-point FG percentage (.469) and assist to turnover ratio, second in steals per game (2.3), fourth in free throw percent (.840) and 3-point FGs per game (2.0). Already ASU's all-time leader in career assists (515), 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 (259, needs 32 steals to catch all-time leader Cassandra Lander), second in free throws (388, needs 23 more free throws to pass Jodi Rathbun for first place) and seventh in scoring. In ASU's Pac-10 Tournament quarterfinal against USC (Mar. 13), January broke the school's single-season record for most 3-pointers (60, set by Amanda Levens in 2000-01). January now has 61 3-pointers this season. 

January has averaged 15.2 points and connected on 59 percent of her field goal attempts in the five NCAA Tournament games she has played in the last two seasons (missed ASU's Regional Semifinal contest in 2007 because of a concussion).

SIMON TO MISS REMAINDER OF THE SEASON

In addition to losing their first game in more than two months against Stanford on March 7, the Sun Devils had to deal with an even tougher loss as junior guard Dymond Simon left the game in the first half with what was eventually diagnosed as a season ending knee injury. For Simon, who was named second-team All-Pac-10 in 2009, it's the second time in three years that she has had to deal with a season ending knee 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 helped to give the Sun Devils one of the top backcourts in the country. She scored in double figures 24 times in 29 games, 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. At the time of her injury she was first on the team in scoring (13.8 ppg) and second to fellow guard Briann January in three-point FGs (37), assists (3.7 apg) and steals (1.3. spg). Her 88.2 free throw percentage set a new school single-season record.

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, who was named Pac-10 honorable mention and Pac-10 Defensive honorable mention earlier this month, has continued to build on last year's success as she currently leads the team in rebounding (6.8 rpg) and blocks (1.3 bpg) and field goal percent (.545) and is fourth in scoring (8.3 ppg). 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. Dosty's success on the court extends into the classroom as well. Recently she was named the Pac-10's Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Dosty, who last spring earned her undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies, is currently working towards her Master's degree in liberal arts. Her graduate GPA is 4.00.

ORSILLO STEADILY REGAINING HER GAME

Junior guard Danielle Orsillo has steadily started returning to the form that had so many excited last season before her season ending knee injury. A starter in every game thus far in 2008, Orsillo averaged 7.9 points (20.3 minutes per game) and 2.3 assists while shooting 42.1 percent from the field, including 35.6 percent from 3-point range in ASU's first 20 games. In her last 11 games, however, she averaged 10.9 points (24.1 minutes per game) and 2.7 assists per game while connecting on 46 percent of her field goal attempts, including 39.4 percent of her 3-pointers. Eight of Orsillo's double-figure scoring games have come in ASU's last 11 contests.

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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