Women's Hoops Heads to Denver for Monday Night Game

Dec. 13, 2000

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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2000-2001 Arizona State Women's Basketball

ASU Sun Devils (6-2) vs. Denver Pioneers (3-4)

Dec. 18, 2000 * 7 p.m. MST * Magness Arena * Denver, Colo.

Live on XTRA 910 AM

After taking 11 days off for finals, the Arizona State Sun Devils travel to the University of Denver for a single game Dec. 18 in Denver. ASU got back on the winning track after dropping two of three games with a 61-56 victory at Northern Arizona on Dec. 6. The Sun Devils bring a 6-2 record to Denver and will be looking for their third road victory of the season. With a road win vs. the Pioneers (3-4), ASU would match its three victories on the road from last season. Following its trip to Denver, ASU will return to Wells Fargo Arena for a Dec. 21 game with Cal State Northridge (a team coached by former Sun Devil Frozena Jerro) followed by the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic against six-time national champion Tennessee at Bank One Ballpark on Dec. 27.

Probable Starters	'00-01		Pos.	Ht.	Cl.	PPG	RPG	NOTES#23	Betsy Boardman	G/F	6-1	Fr.	10.6	3.4	Four double-figures efforts this year#13	Leah Combs	F	6-2	Jr.	4.2	4.9	12 points, 8 rebounds vs. La Salle#35	Melody Johnson	C	6-2	Jr.	14.1	7.5	15 points, 9 rebounds at NAU#33	Natalie Tucker	G	5-9	Sr.	5.4	3.5*	Has started 64 straight games#4	Amanda Levens	G	5-9	Jr.	15.2	3.1	9-of-10 from FT line at NAU

Off the Bench '00-01 Pos. Ht. Cl. PPG RPG NOTES#3 Liz Paulson G 5-11 Sr. 0.5 0.7* Coming off major back surgery#11 Aubrey McFadyen G/F 6-1 Sr. 2.2 0.9 Nine points vs. South Florida#12 Brett Leonard G 5-5 So. 2.6 2.1* 5-of-8 from three-point land this year#31 Jen Albert F 6-2 Fr. 0.4 0.4 HM USA Today HS All-American#32 Rainy Crisp G 5-6 Jr. 1.5 1.8 Season-high 4 points at NAU#34 Li'i Liu G/F 5-10 Fr. 0.0 1.0 Has team's highest vertical jump#52 Cian Carvalho F 5-11 Jr. 4.5 4.8 Season-best 7 rebounds at NAU* assists per game

Colorado ConnectionsArizona State's roster features four players who call the Rocky Mountain State home including senior Kellie McDanal (Conifer, Colo./Evergreen HS), juniors Melody Johnson (Colorado Springs, Colo./Palmer HS) and Nikki Swagger (Colorado Springs, Colo./Doherty HS) and freshman Jen Albert (Longmont, Colo./Niwot HS). Johnson and Swagger, who is not playing this season due to health reasons, both transferred to ASU from the University of Colorado, while senior and Redmond, Wash., native Aubrey McFadyen came to Tempe after spending two seasons at Colorado State University. Johnson and Swagger played with Denver junior guard Nikki Weddle at the University of Colorado, while Pioneer assistant athletic trainer Julie Elliott left ASU for the University of Denver last summer after spending five years at Arizona State.

Last Time OutJunior Melody Johnson narrowly missed her second double-double of the season with 15 points and nine rebounds as the Sun Devils edged the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks 61-56 Dec. 6 at NAU's Walkup Skydome.

Arizona State started out slowly, falling behind by five points at halftime. Northern Arizona ended the half with a 12-0 run over 4:28 to erase a 23-18 ASU lead and take a 30-25 advantage into the locker room. While the teams each had 18 rebounds at the break, the Lumberjacks outshot the Sun Devils 48.0 percent (12-25) to 31.0 percent (9-29) in the first half and held the team to its lowest first-half effort of the season.

In the second half, however, the Sun Devils quickly put themselves back into the game, using a 6-0 run including two layups by Johnson in the opening 2:09 of the second half to go ahead 31-30. There were three lead changes over the next two minutes until junior forward Bridjette Wickham turned in a layup to put the Lumberjacks up 34-33 with 15:50 left to play.

Arizona State regained the lead with 11:33 to play when freshman Betsy Boardman hit a three-pointer to put the team up 41-40. NAU went ahead 42-41 on another Wickham layup, but the Sun Devils took the lead for good when Levens knocked down a pair of free throws with 10:45 to play. NAU would get within one point with 4:18 to play, but the Sun Devils hung on for the 61-56 victory.

For the Sun Devils, Johnson led the team with 15 points and nine rebounds, while junior Amanda Levens had 11 points and a team-high five assists. Arizona State had 11 steals in the game including seven in the second half. For Northern Arizona, Wickham led the team with 14 points and 13 points in the game. Junior Anna Sturing had 12 points, while senior Kristi Harkey dished out five assists.

Notes From the RoadWith wins at Northern Arizona and at Hawaii in the second round of the Rainbow Wahine Classic, the Sun Devils are 2-0 on the road this season. ASU's 67-61 vs. the Rainbow Wahine marked the team's first road victory since defeating Washington State in Pullman, Wash., on Jan. 15 of last year, a span of eight consecutive road losses. With a win at Denver, the Sun Devils would match its total of three road victories from last season. Last year, the Sun Devils earned two non-conference road victories (at Wake Forest and at Texas-San Antonio) but managed just one during the Pac-10 slate, ending the season with a 3-12 road record.

Cindy McCain Purchases 10,000th Ticket for Tennessee GameCindy McCain, wife of U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), purchased the 10,000th ticket for the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic Dec. 8 at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix. An advocate for children's health care needs, McCain founded the American Voluntary Medical Team in 1998, an organization which provided emergency medical and surgical care to impoverished children throughout the world. In 1995, she started the Hensley Family Foundation, which provides financial assistance for children's programs and activities throughout the Valley. With 10,000 tickets sold for the event, which is still three weeks away, Arizona State will shatter its own single-game attendance record of 5,271 set on Feb. 26, 2000 at Wells Fargo Arena and also eclipse the Pac-10 Conference women's basketball single-game record of 9,738 set at the University of Oregon's McArthur Court in a game against Oregon State on March 8, 1996.

In the PollsArizona State made an appearance in the Nov. 27 Associated Press poll, earning nine votes to tie for 39th, but dropped out of the vote getters after falling to UCSB on Dec. 3. This season, ASU will face nine opponents ranked or receiving votes in one of the polls.

About DenverDenver stands at 3-4 overall and will play host to its own Pioneer Basketball Classic featuring Bradley, Texas Southern and East Tennessee State on Dec. 15-16 before taking on the Sun Devils. The Pioneers opened the season with a 3-0 record and has dropped four consecutive games including a 64-63 loss at Western Kentucky on Dec. 10. Senior forward Michaela Pavlickova is leading the Pioneer squad in scoring (17.0) and rebounding (8.7), while junior guard Nikki Weddle is second in scoring at 15.7 points per game and has dished out a team-best 4.0 assists per contest.

Probable Starters '00-01

Pos. Ht. Cl. PPG RPG

#43 Martha Dibella F 6-0 Jr. 6.7 2.9

#34 Michaela Pavlickova F 6-3 Sr. 17.0 8.7

#55 Misty Staton C 6-2 So. 8.4 6.0

#22 Melissa Garcia G 5-7 Jr. 10.9 2.9

#35 Ashley Atkinson -or- G 5-10 So. 6.9 1.9

#5 Nikki Weddle G 5-4 Jr. 15.7 4.0*

* assists per game

In the SeriesMonday's game will mark the second game in the series with Denver. Arizona State earned a 104-44 victory over the Pioneers in the first meeting Dec. 11, 1986, in Tempe, Ariz. The Sun Devils are 2-3 all-time vs. teams in the Sun Belt Conference with their last victory over a team from that conference coming with a 71-48 win over Southwestern Louisiana on Nov. 28, 1998, in the first round of the Rutgers Tournament in Piscataway, N.J.

Soft TouchArizona State's roster features six players shooting 40 percent or better from the field this season led by junior center Melody Johnson who is fourth in the Pac-10 at 57.1 percent (44-77). But it is not just ASU's post players who are shooting well, all three players with 60 or more field-goal attempts are shooting 40 percent or better. Freshman guard/forward Betsy Boardman is hitting 50 percent from the field (31-62), while junior guard Amanda Levens is shooting 41.7 percent (35-84).

Welcome AdditionsFour of Arizona State's top five scorers are making their debuts for the Sun Devils this season, led by junior Amanda Levens, a transfer from Old Dominion University who is averaging 15.2 points per game. Junior Melody Johnson, who transferred from the University of Colorado, is averaging 14.1 points and a team-best 7.5 rebounds, honorable-mention high school All-American Betsy Boardman is averaging 10.6 points and junior Cian Carvalho, a junior college transfer from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community is fifth on the team with 4.5 points per game.

ASU's newcomers have been the leading scorers in each of ASU's eight games this season with Boardman leading the team vs. Texas-San Antonio (15 points) and North Carolina State (16), Levens vs. South Florida (14), Stephen F. Austin (28), La Salle (15) and Santa Barbara (20) and Johnson vs. Hawaii (23) and Northern Arizona (15).

Turner Thorne Notches 90th Career WinThe Sun Devils' 73-56 win over La Salle in the first game of the ASU Holiday Classic on Dec. 1 marked the 90th win of head coach Charli Turner Thorne's coaching career and her 50th while at Arizona State. She has notched a 51-68 record in four-plus seasons at Arizona State and was 40-40 in her three seasons at Northern Arizona.

Great StartWith a 4-0 start to the season, the Sun Devils won their first four games for the first time since 1991-92, while the team's 6-2 record is one shy of the start of last year's squad and is the best since 1992-93. Last year, ASU turned in the best start since 1991-92 with a 7-1 record, winning its first three games before falling at then No. 10 North Carolina then capturing four straight victories (including two in the 1999 Wells Fargo Classic) before losing to then No. 25 Texas in Austin on Dec. 21.

Taking Care of the BallArizona State is averaging just 15.6 turnovers per game in 2000-01 which may not sound so good until you consider that the team had 20.5 turnovers per game last season. The Sun Devils have been especially sharp in the last five games, averaging just 13.6 giveaways (16 or less in all five games) including a season-low nine turnovers vs. La Salle. Last year, the lowest turnover total for the team was 13 in their final game of the season in the WNIT vs. Colorado State.

Notes From Beyond the ArcArizona State has knocked down 35.3 percent of its three-pointers (36-102) in its first eight games, led by sophomore Brett Leonard who has hit 5-of-8 attempts. Junior Amanda Levens has 13 three-pointers on the season, including three of ASU's season-high eight treys vs. Hawaii which was one shy of the school single-game record of nine three-pointers made in a contest.

On the other hand, ASU's defense has been just as successful beyond the arc, allowing its opponents to shoot just a Pac-10 low 19.6 percent (10-51) this season. Only UCSB has hit more than two three-pointers in a game (four), while three teams have had no three-pointers (Texas-San Antonio, Stephen F. Austin, Hawaii). That trend is not completely out of the ordinary for the Sun Devils who have led the Pac-10 Conference in three-point field goal defense in each of the last two seasons including a 27.3 percent mark last season.

Home-Court AdvantageWith a 3-1 home mark this year, the Sun Devils have turned in an 14-4 mark at home in the last two seasons including an 11-3 mark last year which ranks second on the ASU list for home victories in a season with the 11-1 mark of the 1981-82 team. Last year, the Sun Devils won their first eight home games of the season.

Three-Dot DataThe Sun Devils lead the Pac-10 in two defensive categories: three-point field goal percentage defense and rebounding defense ... ASU is ranked eighth in the country in scoring defense (and second to Oregon State in the Pac-10 Conference- 52.7 points per game), allowing only 53.4 points per game so far this season ... ASU's victory at Northern Arizona marked the first win of the season for the Sun Devils when trailing at halftime and the first since overcoming a 36-32 halftime deficit to notch a 78-74 overtime win vs. USC on Jan. 20, 2000 ... Juniors Melody Johnson and Amanda Levens have each notched double figures for scoring in all but one of ASU's games this season ... the pair has also been named all-tournament in both of ASU's tournaments this season (Asahi Rainbow Wahine Classic and ASU Holiday Classic) ... The Northern Arizona game marked the first time this year that ASU's opponent got on the scoreboard first in a game ... The team has jumped out ahead of three teams by eight points or more in the opening minutes including a 10-0 run in the first 2:35 vs. Texas-San Antonio, a 10-2 run vs. Stephen F. Austin in the first 5:36 and a 10-0 run in the first 5:57 of the Hawaii game.

More Three-Dot DataWith a 31-30 rebounding advantage vs. Northern Arizona, the Sun Devils snapped a four-game stretch of being outrebounded ... ASU was 2-2 in that stretch ... Since shooting just 40.9 percent from the free throw line (9-22) in its season opener vs. Texas-San Antonio, ASU has shot 68.3 percent from the charity stripe since (99-145) ... Arizona State is outscoring its opponents by an average of 11.1 points per game this year with the team's biggest win being a 35-point victory over South Florida (74-39) on Nov. 19 ... ASU's opponents are averaging just 53.4 points per game, while the Sun Devils have held all but six of their oppponents to 54 points or less ... two opponents have managed 40 points or less (UTSA with 40 and South Florida with 39) ... ASU is averaging 14.6 assists per game in 2000-01 with 12 of 13 players getting into the action ... Senior Natalie Tucker leads the team in assists for the third straight season at 3.5 assists per game.

Johnson Named Pac-10 Player of the WeekJunior Melody Johnson earned the first Pac-10 Conference Player of the Week honor of the season after averaging 17.0 points and 7.3 rebounds to lead ASU to a 2-1 record and its runner-up finish in the Rainbow Wahine Classic last week. Johnson turned in 16 points and eight rebounds in ASU's opening-round win over Stephen F. Austin, shooting 70 percent (7-10) in the game, and then recorded her first double-double as a Sun Devil with a career-best 23 points and tying a career-high 10 rebounds vs. Hawaii. In the championship game vs. No. 22 North Carolina State, Johnson led the team with 12 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots. The accolade marks the first for Johnson and the 18th all-time selection for ASU.

Head Coach Charli Turner ThorneSince Charli Turner Thorne took over the reigns of the program in 1996-97, the Sun Devils have begun a steady climb back to the national prominence that the team enjoyed in the early 1990s. She has improved the team's wins total in her four seasons and guided ASU to three consecutive double-digit win seasons in as many years. In 1999-2000, Turner Thorne led the Sun Devils to a 14-14 regular-season record and a 7-11 mark in the Pac-10 Conference, both of which marked the school's most victories since 1992-93. Turner Thorne's Sun Devils also earned the team's first postseason appearance in eight seasons, falling to Colorado State 66-54 in Fort Collins, Colo., in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament

A Springboard for the FutureArizona State's invitation to the Women's National Invitation Tournament last bodes well for the future. Of the 32 teams that advanced to the WNIT in 1998-99, seven earned NCAA Tournament bids in 2000 and nine advanced to the WNIT for a second season (a total of 16 teams in postseason play).

Tough SlateThis season, Arizona State will take on 10 teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament or the Women's National Invitation Tournament last year including 2000 national runner-up Tennessee. Other NCAA qualifiers on the 2000-01 slate include Stephen F. Austin, North Carolina State, UC Santa Barbara Arizona, Oregon, Stanford and UCLA, while USC and Hawaii advanced to the WNIT.

ASU Picked Fifth, Sixth in Preseason Pac-10 PollsArizona State was picked to finish fifth in the Pac-10 Conference by the league's coaches and sixth by the media in their preseason polls, the same spots they were picked last season.

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