Women's Basketball to Host Arizona Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena

Jan. 23, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Winners of their last three games and four of their last five, the Arizona State Sun Devils return home for an intrastate showdown with the No. 23/25 Arizona Wildcats Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena. ASU's game with the Wildcats will open a three-game homestand for the Sun Devils who turned in their first Pac-10 Conference road sweep since the 1992-93 season with last weekend's wins at UCLA and USC. The Pac-10 leading three-game winning streak marks ASU's first back-to-back victories since the team opened the season with four straight wins, while the Sun Devils had not won three consecutive Pac-10 games since the 1992-93 season.

The Sun Devils will be looking to snap a 14-game losing streak to the Wildcats, while Saturday will mark the 51st matchup between the two teams. The intrastate rivalry with the visitors from Tucson is ASU's longest running series dating back to the 1975-76 season, the first year of the Sun Devil women's basketball program. Arizona State and Arizona bring identical 4-2 conference marks into Saturday's tilt which puts them into a tie with Washington for second in the early Pac-10 standings. The Sun Devils are 12-6 overall, while Arizona fell to 14-4 overall with losses at USC and UCLA last weekend.

Probable Starters	'00-01		Pos.	Ht.	Cl.	PPG	RPG	NOTES#23	Betsy Boardman	G/F	6-1	Fr.	10.7	3.6	Team-high 35 steals this year#13	Leah Combs	F	6-2	Jr.	4.4	4.3	8 pts on 3-of-5 shooting at UCLA#35	Melody Johnson	C	6-2	Jr.	13.9	6.5	14 pts, 9 rbs at UCLA#4	Amanda Levens	G	5-9	Jr.	14.3	3.1	Has hit her last 15 free throws#33	Natalie Tucker	G	5-9	Sr.	5.7	3.4*	Team-high 6 assists at UCLA

Off the Bench '00-01 Pos. Ht. Cl. PPG RPG NOTES#3 Liz Paulson G 5-11 Sr. 0.7 0.7* Coming off major back surgery#11 Aubrey McFadyen G/F 6-1 Sr. 1.5 0.6 Nine points vs. South Florida#12 Brett Leonard G 5-5 So. 3.6 1.8* Career-best 12 pts, 6 rbs at UCLA#31 Jen Albert F 6-2 Fr. 0.7 0.4 4 points vs. Cal State Northridge#32 Rainy Crisp G 5-6 Jr. 2.5 1.8 Career-high 7 points at USC#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. 6.9 4.9 Career-best 16 points at UCLA* assists per game

ExposureASU's flagship station XTRA 910 AM will broadcast the Arizona game to the Valley of the Sun with Vince Marotta calling the action. The broadcast is also available via the ASU official athletics web site (www.thesundevils.com).

Levens Named Pac-10 Player of the WeekJunior guard Amanda Levens earned Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Jan. 15-21 after averaging 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in ASU's first road sweep over the Los Angeles schools and its first Pac-10 road sweep since 1992-93. On the weekend, the Belvidere, Ill., native shot 40 percent from three-point range (4-10) and was a perfect 12-for-12 from the free throw line. Against USC, Levens notched a team-high 15 points and recorded a game-high four assists. She matched her scoring effort with 15 points at UCLA, adding seven rebounds in a career-best 34 minutes of play. Levens has hit 10 of her last 20 attempts from three-point land and already ranks 10th on ASU's single-season chart with 30 treys this year. The 5-9 guard, who transferred to ASU from Old Dominion University, leads the Sun Devil squad in scoring, three-pointers and free throw percentage. She ranks second in the Pac-10 in free throw percentage but has twice as many attempts as the league leader. Levens also stands in fifth in the Pac-10 in scoring, three-pointers made and three-point field goal percentage. The honor is the first of Levens' career and the 19th all-time selection for ASU.

In the RankingsArizona State made its second appearance of the season in the national polls, receiving one vote in the Jan. 22 Associated Press poll following its sweep of the Los Angeles schools last weekend. Arizona is ranked 23rd in the latest AP poll and 25th in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches rankings. Previously this season, the Sun Devils made an appearance in the Nov. 27 Associated Press poll, earning nine votes to tie for 39th but dropped from the ranks of vote getters after falling to UCSB Dec. 3.

Arizona State has faced three ranked opponents this season but has come up short in all three contests, including a pair of losses under five points, falling to then No. 22 North Carolina State 54-51 Nov. 26 in the Rainbow Wahine Classic and to then No. 2 Tennessee 67-63 Dec. 27 in the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic. ASU last upset a ranked opponent with a 77-76 win over then undefeated and No. 7 Washington at Wells Fargo Arena on Jan. 8, 1998.

Last Time OutWith wins at UCLA and USC, Arizona State completed its first Pac-10 Conference road sweep since 1992-93 and notched its first sweep over the Los Angeles schools since the 1981-82 season and the first ever on the road. On Thursday night, the Sun Devils downed the UCLA Bruins 78-68 at Pauley Pavilion, snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Bruins and earning the team's first victory on UCLA's court since the 1991-92 campaign, while two nights later, the Sun Devils earned a 66-59 victory at USC's Lyon Center to complete the sweep.

In the first game, junior Cian Carvalho turned in a career-best 16 points to lead ASU past the Bruins. Sophomore Brett Leonard also chipped in with the best effort of her young career with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting and six rebounds, while ASU's bench contributed a total of 32 points in the game.

ASU broke open a close contest with a 12-0 run to take a 34-19 lead with 3:44 remaining and enjoyed a 38-27 cushion at the half. The Bruins rallied to narrow the gap to three at 48-45 with 12:56 to play on a lay-up by sophomore Kristee Porter. A basket by junior Michelle Greco with 8:20 remaining gave UCLA its first lead since the early going at 53-52. ASU answered and took a 63-57 lead with 6:08 remaining on a lay-in by Carvalho. A basket by UCLA junior Malika Leatham with 3:47 on the clock gave UCLA a 66-65 lead, but it would prove to be the Bruins' last advantage of the contest. Leonard scored the next five points in the game and assisted on a three-pointer by junior Amanda Levens to give the visitors a 73-66 margin with 2:18 to play. UCLA never got closer than five points the rest of the way.

For the Sun Devils, Levens finished with 15 points, including a pair of three-pointers, and seven rebounds, while junior Melody Johnson added 10 points. Senior Natalie Tucker dished out a season-high six assists. For UCLA, Greco, the conference's leading scorer, had a game-high 22 points, while Porter turned in career bests in points (13) and rebounds (14).

Two nights later, three Sun Devils scored in double figures led by Levens with 15 points in ASU's victory over USC. ASU jumped ahead quickly, taking a 18-8 lead in the first nine minutes of the game. The Women of Troy pulled within three (15-18) at the 8:25 mark but turned the ball over eight times in the remainder of the half. ASU took a 32-24 advantage into the locker room at halftime after shooting 54.2 percent in the first 20 minutes, the team's second-best first-half effort of the season.

In the second half, the Sun Devils stepped up their defense, holding USC scoreless in the first four minutes to take a 41-26 lead. Led by freshman Ebony Hoffman, the Women of Troy got as close as five points 45-40 at the 11:26 mark and 49-44 at the 8:55 mark, but the Sun Devils finished strong to pick up their third victory in four games against the Trojans.

Levens led the Sun Devil squad with 15 points and four assists. Levens was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line in the game and has now drained her last 15 attempts from the charity stripe. Johnson had 14 points and tied USC's Aisha Hollans with a game-high nine rebounds. Freshman Betsy Boardman added 12 points and three steals, while junior Rainy Crisp turned in a career-best seven points. Hoffman was the only player to score in double figures for USC with a game-high 19 points. She added a season-high four blocks as well as seven boards.

USC and ASU shot a comparable 43.6 and 44.4 percent and matched each other with 32 rebounds apiece. The Sun Devils turned in 13 steals and shot a season-high 80 percent from the free throw line, knocking down 16-of-20 attempts.

About #23/25 ArizonaArizona saw its seven-game winning streak come to a halt in Los Angeles last weekend, falling at USC 81-67 on Jan. 18 and at UCLA 59-56 in overtime on Jan. 20. The two losses marked the second straight season that Arizona had lost both games in Los Angeles. The Wildcats are 14-4 overall and are tied with ASU and Washington for second place in the Pac-10 standings at 4-2. As a team, the Wildcats lead the Pac-10 in scoring (80.8 ppg), scoring margin (14.9 ppg), free throw percentage (70.5), assists (16.6 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.86). Individually, five Wildcats are averaging double figures in scoring led by junior forward Elizabeth Pickney at 14.7 points per contest which is good for third in the conference in scoring. Freshman Veranda James paces the club in rebounding at 8.3 per game including 13 in Arizona's loss to UCLA.

In the SeriesArizona State holds a 29-21 advantage in the all-time series with Arizona, while the Wildcats have won the last 14 meetings between the two teams. This series is the longest for the Sun Devils and dates back to the 1975-76 season, the first year of varsity women's basketball at Arizona State. Last year, Arizona took both meetings with a 60-58 decision in Tucson Jan. 30 and a 72-61 win in Tempe on Feb. 26. This season will mark just the second time in five years that ASU starts the intrastate series in Tempe (on the road in 1996-97, 1998-99 and 1999-00).

ASU's last victory in the series against the U of A came during the 1992-93 season when Arizona State swept both games including a 75-58 decision in Tempe on Feb. 19, 1993 and a 73-72 win in Tucson on Jan. 23, 1993. While the Wildcats have gotten the best of the series in recent years, the Sun Devils dominated it in the early games, winning 18 of the first 20 meetings which included a streak of 16 games that encompassed eight full seasons (1978-79 to 1985-86).

Keeping 'Em Off the ScoreboardArizona State ranks third in the Pac-10 Conference and ranks among the best in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 59.3 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 then 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 a Pac-10 low 16.3 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 turned in a season-low nine turnovers vs. La Salle and has had 16 or less giveaways in nine of the team's 18 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 16 of 18 games including a 24-21 advantage over then 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 4.61 more turnovers than they commit per game. ASU also stands in second in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio at 0.85 (251 assists to 294 turnovers). Senior Natalie Tucker, who leads the team with an average of 3.4 assists per game (seventh in the Pac-10), is third in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.45).

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 ranked 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.

Notes From Beyond the ArcArizona State has knocked down 34.2 percent of its three-pointers (77-225), led by junior Amanda Levens who has met success on 39.5 percent of her attempts. Levens has a team-best 30 three-pointers on the season which is already 10th on ASU's single-season charts. The 5-9 junior ranks fifth in the Pac-10 in three-point field goal percentage and tied for fifth in three-pointers made (1.67 treys per game). Levens drained three treys of the team's eight treys in the team's wins at Hawaii and UCLA, which was one shy of the school single-game record of nine three-pointers made in a contes. Levens also knocked down a career-high 4-of-4 three-pointers in ASU's win over Washington State on Jan. 13.

Levens has drained at least one three-pointer in 14 games and more than one in 10 of those contests, while freshman Betsy Boardman has at least one trey in 13 games. Boardman also ranks eighth in the Pac-10 in three-point field goal percentage, draining 36.5 percent of her attempts (19-52).

Head Coach Charli Turner ThorneSince Charli Turner Thorne took over the reins 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 57-72 record in four-plus seasons at Arizona State and was 40-40 in her three seasons at Northern Arizona.

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 65.8 percent from the charity stripe since (283-430) ... The team turned in a season-high 80 percent (16-20) from the charity stripe at USC on Jan. 20 ... Junior Amanda Levens is shooting a team-best 83.7 percent from the free throw line (82-98) which is good for second in the Pac-10 ... UCLA's Michelle Greco leads the Pac-10 in that category at 89.8 percent but has attempted just half as many free throws as Levens (44-98)... Levens has currently drained 15 consecutive free throws over the last three games (last three attempts vs. WSU, 4-4 at UCLA, 8-8 at USC), while earlier this season, she had a streak of 16 consecutive free throws that ended in the Stanford game ... In the last nine games, ASU has been to the free throw line 266 times (an average of 29.5 free throw attempts per game) and drained 65.4 percent of those attempts (174-266).

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 fifth 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 13.9 ppg and has scored in double figures in 16 of 18 games and had nine points in each of the other two. Levens, who is this week's Pac-10 Player of the Week, has hit a team-best 30 three-pointers, while Johnson, who earned the first conference player-of-the-week honors this season, leads the Sun Devils in rebounding at 6.5 boards per game which is good for seventh 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 13.9 points and a team-best 6.5 rebounds, honorable-mention high school All-American Betsy Boardman is averaging 10.7 points and junior Cian Carvalho, a junior college transfer from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community is fourth on the team with 6.9 points per game and second with 4.9 rebounds per contest (which ranks 19th in the Pac-10). ASU's newcomers have been the leading scorers in each of ASU's 18 games this season, most recently with Carvalho scoring a career-high 16 points at UCLA (her first game as the team's leading scorer) and Levens turning in 15 points at USC.

Ball TheftsThe Sun Devils are averaging 8.6 steals per game and have turned in double figures in that category in six of the past 11 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.

Road WarriorsArizona State's trip to Los Angeles marked the end of a stretch that saw 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, while the Sun Devils are 5-2 on the road this season (including three Pac-10 victories). The last ASU team to turn in more than five road wins was the 1992-93 squad which was 7-5. ASU's win at UCLA snapped a streak of eight losses in Pauley Pavilion, while ASU has won games at Cal, USC and UCLA in a single season for the first time in school history.

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 Cal 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 but managed just one during the Pac-10 slate, ending the season with a 3-12 road record.

Three-Dot DataThree Sun Devils rank in the top 17 in the Pac-10 Conference in scoring (Levens, Johnson, Boardman) ... ASU's win at UCLA marked the 25th Pac-10 victory for Charli Turner Thorne, while her first conference win at ASU also came against UCLA, in Tempe in 1996-97 ... With a 12-6 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 11-7 mark through 18 games but lost eight of their last 11 to end the year at 14-15 ... Senior Natalie Tucker has started 74 consecutive games, every game of her three-year career at ASU ... Tucker leads the team in assists for the third straight season at 3.4 assists per game, while the senior guard has 301 career assists (an average of 4.1 per game) which ranks eighth on the ASU career list ... she also ranks in ASU's top 10 charts for career three-pointers and free throw percentage ... ASU has overcome two half-time deficits for victories this season, both on the road (at Northern Arizona and at California) ... ASU is averaging 13.9 assists per game in 2000-01 with 12 of 13 players getting into the action ... ASU has held 12 teams to four three-pointers or less this season including three opponents with no treys.

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