Women's Basketball Heads to L.A. to Take on UCLA, USC

Jan. 16, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Following a split with Washington and Washington State last weekend, the Arizona State Sun Devils (10-6, 2-2 Pac-10) look to stay on the winning track when they head to Los Angeles for games with UCLA Thursday and USC Saturday. The Sun Devils look to notch their first back-to-back wins since the beginning of November. Since opening the year with four straight victories, the Sun Devils have alternated a loss with a win six times, going 6-6 in the last 12 games. With a win in either game, Arizona State will also surpass its road wins total from last season. The Sun Devils stand in a tie for fourth in the early conference race, while UCLA (2-12, 1-2 Pac-10) notched its first conference victory of the year with a 65-53 win over USC (5-8, 0-3 Pac-10) last weekend.

Probable Starters	'00-01		Pos.	Ht.	Cl.	PPG	RPG	NOTES#23	Betsy Boardman	G/F	6-1	Fr.	10.9	3.7	Team-high 30 steals this year#13	Leah Combs	F	6-2	Jr.	4.1	4.6	Career-best 4 assists at Stanford#35	Melody Johnson	C	6-2	Jr.	14.2	6.4	Led game with 22 pts, 11 rbs vs. UW#4	Amanda Levens	G	5-9	Jr.	14.3	2.9	Career-high 4 treys vs. WSU#33	Natalie Tucker	G	5-9	Sr.	5.9	3.3*	Season-best 12 points at Stanford

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. 1.7 0.7 Nine points vs. South Florida#12 Brett Leonard G 5-5 So. 2.9 1.9* 7 points, 4 assists vs. WSU#31 Jen Albert F 6-2 Fr. 0.8 0.5 4 points vs. Cal State Northridge#32 Rainy Crisp G 5-6 Jr. 2.3 1.8 Hit 1st career trey at Stanford#34 Li'i Liu G/F 5-10 Fr. 0.3 0.7 Has team's highest vertical jump#52 Cian Carvalho F 5-11 Jr. 6.5 4.8 Career-best 12 pts in each of last 2* assists per game

ExposureASU's flagship station XTRA 910 AM will broadcast both games to the Valley of the Sun with Vince Marotta calling the action. The broadcasts are also available via the ASU official athletics web site (www.thesundevils.com). Neither game will be televised.

On the Road AgainArizona State's trip to Los Angeles will mark the end of a stretch that has seen the Sun Devils play four of six games on the road. ASU picked up its third road win of the year and first Pac-10 road victory with a 58-47 decision at Cal on Jan. 6, the team's first win in Berkeley since the 1991-92 season. The Sun Devils are 3-2 on the road this season, while a victory in either game this weekend would be the most since Charli Turner Thorne's 1998-99 team went 4-8 away from Wells Fargo Arena. The last ASU team to turn in a winning road record was the 1992-93 squad which was 7-5.

ASU's 67-61 over Hawaii 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 their victory at California on Jan. 6, the Sun Devils matched their 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.

Last Time OutArizona State turned in a split in the second week of Pac-10 play, falling to the Washington Huskies 66-62 and defeating the Washington State Cougars 83-70 last weekend at Wells Fargo Arena.

In the first game, junior Melody Johnson turned in her second double-double of the season with 22 points and a career-high 11 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to defeat the Huskies. For Washington, the victory snapped a three-game losing streak in Tempe and was the team's first win in the state of Arizona since 1997. The two teams battled to a 24-24 tie at the half with the Sun Devils outshooting the Huskies by a slim 34.5 to 32.1 percent margin and outrebounding UW 24-16. Johnson and junior Amanda Levens each turned in six points in the first half, while freshman Betsy Boardman pulled down eight rebounds.

In the second half, however, the Huskies slowly built a lead, taking a 46-36 edge when UW freshman guard Giuliana Mendiola completed a layup with 9:27 to play. Washington extended its lead to 58-44 with 4:33 to play, holding ASU to just one field goal in over 10 minutes.

The Sun Devils charged back into the game, however, with a 17-3 run that began when senior guard Natalie Tucker hit a three-pointer with 4:16 left to play. Junior Cian Carvalho's layup put the Sun Devils within three points, 62-59, with 41 seconds to play. Arizona State would get within three points two more times over the final seconds of the game, but Washington drained 4-of-6 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory. Johnson led the game with 22 points and 11 rebounds, including eight points over the final two minutes of the game, while Carvalho turned in a career-best 12 points. Boardman added 11 points and a career-best nine rebounds for the Sun Devils.

Two nights later, ASU turned in its best offensive performance of the season en route to an 83-70 victory over the WSU Cougars. For the Sun Devils, it was the seventh straight victory over the Cougars dating back to the 1997-98 season. Arizona State turned in a season-high 83 points, including a season-best 49 in the first half, while its 50.9 field goal percentage and 54.5 three-point percentage were also tops for the team this year.

ASU held Washington State scoreless over the first four minutes of the game to take a 6-0 lead, but WSU answered with a 7-0 run of its own to take a 9-8 lead with 14:32 to play in the first half. The Sun Devils, however, quickly dissolved that lead, WSU's only one of the game, to go ahead 24-11 with 9:48 to play in the half, a 15-2 run that was keyed by three-pointers by Levens and Boardman. ASU would lead by as many as 19 points on three occasions and went ahead 49-30 at the half.

In the second half, however, WSU refused to give up, chipping the Sun Devil lead down to just seven points (67-60) with 5:11 to play, taking advantage of a 10-2 run. ASU sealed its victory, however, with solid free throw shooting and 10 points over the last four minutes of the game from Levens. Levens converted on a three-point play and hit her career-best fourth three-pointer of the game in that stretch.

Levens led the game with 23 points, her fourth 20-plus-point showing of the season, knocking down 6-of-9 from the field including a perfect 4-of-4 from three-point land. Johnson turned in another solid performance with 16 points, while Boardman had 14 points and a game-high seven rebounds. Carvalho turned in 12 points to match her career high for the second consecutive game.

About UCLA & USCAfter making their third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance last season, the UCLA Bruins have struggled this year, notching just their second victory of the year with a 65-53 win over crosstown rival USC last weekend. Junior Michelle Greco, an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection from one year ago, leads the conference in scoring at 19.2 points per game including a game-high 23 points in her team's win over USC last weekend. UCLA leads the Pac-10 in steals (11.36 per game) and is forcing its opponents to commit 23.1 turnovers per game, the most in the league.

USC is still looking for its first Pac-10 win of the season and will take on the No. 19/23 Arizona Wildcats on Thursday night. Freshmen Aisha Hollans and Ebony Hoffman are 1-2 in scoring for the Women of Troy, averaging 13.7 and 10.5 points per game, respectively. The pair has also led the team in scoring and rebounding in four of the last five games. Hoffman also ranks third in the Pac-10 in rebounding with 7.5 boards per game.

In the SeriesUCLA holds a commanding 35-9 advantage in the series with the Sun Devils dating back to the 1976-77 season. The Bruins have won the last six contests in the series including both games last year (a 76-55 decision in Tempe Jan. 22 and a 56-47 win in L.A. Feb. 17). Arizona State's last victory in the series came on Jan. 16, 1997 with a 66-65 decision in Tempe, the first Pac-10 Conference win of Charli Turner Thorne's career at ASU. The Sun Devils have lost in Los Angeles in their last eight tries, dating back to the 1991-92 season with the team's last victory coming in the form of a 99-91 win on March 8, 1992.

USC also leads the series with the Sun Devils 40-5 dating back to the 1977-78 season. USC won the last meeting in Los Angeles with a 76-70 win on Feb. 19, 2000, while ASU earned victories in the previous two games, the first time in school history that the Sun Devils have notched back-to-back wins over the Women of Troy, including a 78-74 overtime win in Tempe on Jan. 20 and a 70-58 decision in Los Angeles on the last day of the 1998-99 season. The Trojans had won the previous 11 games in the series.

ASU has never swept the Los Angeles schools and has recorded wins over both programs in the same season just once in the previous 25 seasons (a 63-62 win over USC on Feb. 8, 1992 and a 99-91 victory at UCLA on March 8, 1992).

Southern California ConnectionsJunior Leah Combs hails from Yorba Linda, Calif., where she graduated from Esperanza High School in Anaheim. Combs concluded her career as the all-time leading scorer (1,348 points) and rebounder (768 rebounds) at Esperanza, leading the team to a 22-6 record and a Sunset League championship in 1996-97.

Keeping 'Em Off the ScoreboardArizona State leads the Pac-10 Conference and ranks among the best in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 58.8 points per game so far this season. ASU has held six opponents to 50 points or less this season including 47 by Cal on Jan. 6, while four of those teams have managed 45 points or less (with a season-low 39 by South Florida). ASU held No. 2 Tennessee to just 67 points, 16.4 points short of the Lady Vols' season average of 83.4.

Prior to ASU's 58-47 win at Cal, the last time ASU held a Pac-10 opponent under 50 points was in 1997-98 with a 69-49 win over Oregon State in Tempe, while 47 is the fewest points for a league opponent since defeating Oregon 79-42 in Tempe on Jan. 30, 1992. Prior to that, ASU had never held a Pac-10 opponent to less than 50 points on the road in the previous 14 years of conference play.

Taking Care of the BallArizona State is averaging just 16.0 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. Thursday night's matchup with UCLA will be of some interest in this category since ASU is averaging a Pac-10 low 16.0 giveaways per game, while UCLA leads the conference by forcing an average of 23.1 turnovers per contest.

The Sun Devils turned in a season-low nine turnovers vs. La Salle and has had 16 or less giveaways in nine of the team's 16 games this year (including 13 each vs. Washington and Washington State). The Sun Devils have also won the turnover battle (having fewer turnovers than their opponents) in 15 of 16 games including a 24-21 advantage over No. 2 Tennessee and a 20-11 edge at then No. 21/22 Stanford. Last year, the lowest turnover total for the team was 13 in their final game of the season in the WNIT vs. Colorado State.

The Sun Devils lead the Pac-10 in turnover margin, forcing 5.12 more turnovers than they commit per game. ASU also stands in third in the league in assist-to-turnover margin at 0.87 (223 assists to 256 turnovers). Senior Natalie Tucker, who leads the team with an average of 3.3 assists per game (seventh in the Pac-10), is third in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.57).

Notes From Beyond the ArcArizona State has knocked down 33.5 percent of its three-pointers (67-200), led by junior Amanda Levens who has met success on 39.4 percent of her attempts. Levens has a team-best 26 three-pointers on the season which is just three short of a tie for 10th on ASU's single-season charts. The 5-9 junior ranks seventh in the Pac-10 in three-point field goal percentage and tied for sixth with 1.62 treys per game. Levens drained 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, while she knocked down a career-high 4-of-4 three-pointers in ASU's win over Washington State last weekend.

Levens has drained at least one three-pointer in 12 games and more than one in nine of those contests, while freshman Betsy Boardman has at least one trey in 11 games. Boardman also ranks 10th in the Pac-10 in three-point field goal percentage, draining 35.6 percent of her attempts (16-45).

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 four 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 2000 Women's National Invitation Tournament.

The 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 ASU. She has notched a 55-72 record in four-plus seasons at Arizona State and was 40-40 in her three seasons at Northern Arizona.

Super JuniorsAfter sitting out last season as Division I transfers, juniors Amanda Levens and Melody Johnson have made themselves right at home this season. The pair is 1-2 in scoring this season and has also been named all-tournament in both of ASU's tournaments this season (Asahi Rainbow Wahine Classic and ASU Holiday Classic)

Levens, a 5-9 guard who transferred from Old Dominion University, is pacing the ASU squad at 14.3 points per game and ranks sixth in the Pac-10 in that category. Levens has notched double figures in all but three of ASU's games this season. Johnson, a 6-2 guard from the University of Colorado, is second in scoring at 14.2 ppg and has scored in double figures in 14 games and had nine points in each of the other two. Levens has hit a team-best 26 three-pointers, while Johnson, who earned the first Pac-10 Player of the Week honors this season, leads the Sun Devils in rebounding at 6.4 boards per game which is good for eighth in the Pac-10.

Welcome AdditionsArizona State's top four 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 14.3 points per game. Junior Melody Johnson, who transferred from the University of Colorado, is averaging 14.2 points and a team-best 6.4 rebounds, honorable-mention high school All-American Betsy Boardman is averaging 10.9 points and junior Cian Carvalho, a junior college transfer from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community is fourth on the team with 6.5 points per game and second with 4.8 rebounds per contest. ASU's newcomers have been the leading scorers in each of ASU's 16 games this season with Johnson leading the way with 22 points vs. Washington and Levens with 23 vs. Washington State.

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 tops on the team and third in the Pac-10 at 55.0 percent (83-151). But it is not just ASU's post players who are shooting well, all three players with 145 or more field-goal attempts are shooting 40 percent or better. Freshman guard/forward Betsy Boardman is hitting 42.2 percent from the field (62-147), while junior guard Amanda Levens is shooting 40.0 percent (66-165).

Ball TheftsThe Sun Devils are averaging 8.6 steals per game and have turned in double figures in that category in five of the past nine games with nine in two other games in that stretch. ASU had a season-best 16 steals vs. Cal State Northridge including seven by freshman Betsy Boardman. Both totals surpassed last year's highs of 14 takeaways (at Texas-San Antonio, 12/18/00) and five by two players last season.

Notes From the Charity StripeSince shooting just 40.9 percent from the free throw line (9-22) in its season opener vs. Texas-San Antonio, ASU has shot 64.8 percent from the charity stripe since (247-381) ... Junior Amanda Levens is shooting a team-best 81.4 percent from the free throw line (70-86) which is good for fourth in the Pac-10 ... Levens' miss in the second half at Stanford ended a streak of 16 consecutive free throws (nine straight in the second half vs. Tennessee, 6-of-6 vs. Wake Forest) ... In the last seven games, ASU has been to the free throw line 217 times (an average of 31.0 free throw attempts per game) and drained 63.6 percent of those attempts (138-217).

Three-Dot DataThree Sun Devils rank in the top 15 in the Pac-10 Conference in scoring (Levens, Johnson, Boardman) ... A win in either of ASU's games this weekend would mark the 25th Pac-10 win for ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne ... With a 10-6 record so far this season, the Sun Devils have notched double figures in wins in each of the last four seasons, something the program had not accomplished since 1989-1993 ... Last year, the Sun Devils turned in an 11-5 mark through 16 games but lost 10 of their last 13 to end the year at 14-15 ... ASU turned in a better field goal percentage (34.5-32.1), more rebounds (40-35) and fewer turnovers (17-13) than the Washington Huskies but came up short in the end in points (66-62) ... Washington came into the game leading the Pac-10 in rebounding but lost that battle to the Sun Devils ... the Washington loss was the first of the year for the Sun Devils when outrebounding their opponent ... ASU is ranked 29th in the country in attendance, averaging 2,581 fans per home game.

More Quick NotesASU has overcome two half-time deficits for victories this season, both on the road (at Northern Arizona and at California) ... The Sun Devils' 67-63 loss to Tennessee was the Lady Vols' closest game of the season so far this year ... Arizona State is outscoring its opponents by an average of 6.7 points per game this year with the team's biggest win being a 36-point victory over Cal State Northridge (80-44) on Dec. 21 ... ASU is averaging 13.9 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 3.3 assists per game ... ASU has held 12 teams to four three-pointers or less this season including three teams with no three-pointers.

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 8-4 record is one game off the pace of last year's squad. One year ago, ASU turned in the team's 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.

Home-Court AdvantageWith a 6-3 home mark this year, the Sun Devils have turned in an 17-6 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.

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