Women's Hoops to Host UCLA at 7 p.m. Saturday Night

Feb. 16, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. - Tied for first place in the Pac-10 and winners of eight of their last nine games, the Arizona State Sun Devils take on UCLA Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena. With a 17-7 overall record and a 9-3 Pac-10 mark, ASU has surpassed both wins totals from last season and turned in the most victories since the 1992-93 team went 17-10 overall and 10-8 in the conference. With their next win, the Sun Devils will have the most victories since the 1991-92 squad was 20-9 overall and 11-7 in the conference en route to ASU's last NCAA Tournament appearance. Thursday night, ASU edged USC 67-65 at Wells Fargo Arena, giving the team its first season sweep over USC in school history, while the team will be looking to do the same for the first time in school history against UCLA on Saturday night. The Sun Devils are tied for first in the Pac-10 with Stanford and Washington, while UCLA (3-19, 2-9) is 10th in the league after falling at Arizona 89-79 on Thursday night.

Probable Starters	'00-01		Pos.	Ht.	Cl.	PPG	RPG	NOTES#23	Betsy Boardman	G/F	6-1	Fr.	11.3	4.2	15.3 ppg in last four games#52	Cian Carvalho	F	5-11	Jr.	6.6	5.2	Career-best 9 rbs, 3 asts at UW#35	Melody Johnson	C	6-2	Jr.	14.5	7.0	19 points in each game in Washington#4	Amanda Levens	G	5-9	Jr.	15.0	3.4	Has hit 50% (21-42) of treys in last 8#33	Natalie Tucker	G	5-9	Sr.	5.0	3.6*	7th in career assists at ASU (327)

Off the Bench '00-01 Pos. Ht. Cl. PPG RPG NOTES#3 Liz Paulson G 5-11 Sr. 0.5 0.5* Coming off major back surgery#11 Aubrey McFadyen G/F 6-1 Sr. 1.3 0.7 2 pts, 2 asts in each game in Wash.#12 Brett Leonard G 5-5 So. 3.8 1.5* Hit 10-of-12 free throws vs. USC#13 Leah Combs F 6-2 Jr. 4.3 4.1 Out 3-4 weeks with knee injury#31 Jen Albert F 6-2 Fr. 0.6 0.3 4 points vs. Cal State Northridge#32 Rainy Crisp G 5-6 Jr. 2.6 1.9 Career-high 9 points vs. Arizona#34 Li'i Liu G/F 5-10 Fr. 0.3 0.7 Has played in three games* assists per game

ExposureASU's flagship station XTRA 910 AM will broadcast the UCLA 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). Cox Communications (Channel 9) will televise the contest to a local cable audience with George Allen and Fat Lever calling the action. ASU is 6-1 when playing on live television this year. Over the last two seasons, the Sun Devils are a perfect 11-0 when appearing on Cox Communications including a sweep of the Oregon schools in their last homestand and Thursday night's victory over USC.

Arizona Game Moved to 4 p.m.The start time of next week's game at Arizona in Tucson has been moved to 4 p.m. from its original start time of 2 p.m. The game will be televised in the Phoenix area on Cox Communications (seen locally on Channel 9). The change gives the Sun Devils a total of at least 10 televised games this season.

In the RankingsArizona State is 24th in the Feb. 12 Associated Press poll, marking the first time in 18 years that the team has been ranked in consecutive weeks. The Sun Devils were ranked in all 17 polls during the 1982-83 campaign, climbing as high as ninth and finishing at 17th in the final poll. ASU broke into the national top 25 last week, checking in at 23rd in the Feb. 5 Associated Press poll and marking the team's first national ranking since March 1, 1992 when the Sun Devils were ranked 25th by the Associated Press. As a team, Arizona State has been ranked a total of 36 weeks in the team's history. The Sun Devils spent most of the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons ranked in the national polls (32 straight weeks including all 17 polls in 1982-83). ASU is also receiving seven votes in the Feb. 12 USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll and is ranked 25th by womenscollegehoops.com this week. Neither USC nor UCLA is ranked.

Arizona State has faced five ranked opponents this season with a 2-3 record in those games, earning a 67-57 victory over the No. 23/25 Arizona Wildcats Jan. 27 and a 73-63 win over No. 22/21 Oregon Feb. 3. Prior to that, the team's last upset over a ranked opponent was a 77-76 win over then undefeated and No. 7 Washington at Wells Fargo Arena on Jan. 8, 1998. Before its wins over the Wildcats and the Ducks, ASU had come up short in three contests with ranked teams this year, 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.

In the Conference RaceThis marks the first time in school history that the Sun Devils have been in first place in the Pac-10 Conference at this point in the season. The highest the team had been ranked previously so deep into league play was third on Feb. 15, 1993, at 8-4 in the league. In 1991-92 and 1992-93, their two best seasons in the Pac-10, the Devils were sixth (7-5) and third (8-4) in the Pac-10 through 12 games, respectively.

Arizona State has never won a Pac-10 Conference title in the league's 14-year existence, while the team's best finish in the Pac-10 was a tie for fourth in 1993 (10-8). The Sun Devils' most Pac-10 victories came in 1991-92 when the team notched an 11-7 record and a fifth-place finish en route to 20-9 overall mark and an NCAA Tournament bid. ASU finished third on two occasions while a member of the Western Collegiate Athletic Association (1981-82 and 1982-83), while its highest conference finish ever was a second-place showing in the Pacific West Conference in 1985-86.

Last Time OutArizona State hit 38 of its 47 free throw attempts for a season-high 80.9 percent from the line to rally past USC 67-65 Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena. Junior Amanda Levens scored 22 points to lead four Sun Devils in double figures.

The Sun Devils trailed most of the game and took their biggest lead when USC coach Chris Gobrecht took two technicals for her protests after Tiffany Elmore was called for fouling Levens with 2:21 remaining. Levens sank four free throws, sending the Sun Devils to a 66-59 lead. USC fought back, but freshman Jessica Cheeks couldn't get off a shot as time ran out.

Junior Melody Johnson had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Sun Devils, while freshman Betsy Boardman turned in 12 and sophomore Brett Leonard had 10, hitting 10-of-12 attempts from the charity stripe. For USC, Ebony Hoffman had 16 points and eight rebounds. USC also got 10 points each from Elmore and Tashara Carter.

Leonard hit two free throws with 4:30 left to give the Sun Devils a 59-57 lead they never relinquished. The Sun Devils made their first 18 foul shots before Levens missed one 6:00 into the second half.

USC took a 36-31 halftime lead when Hoffman hit a shot in the lane and put back a missed free throw, and Carter made a buzzer-beater in the final 18 seconds. USC outrebounded ASU 36-32 and outshot the Sun Devils 43.1 (28-65) to 35.9 percent (14-39).

Comeback KidsCounting Thursday night's victory over USC, the Sun Devils have overcome four halftime deficits for victory this season and is 4-6 overall when trailing at halftime. ASU has trailed at the half in each of their last three games and come up with victories in two of those three contests. Their previous three wins after trailing at halftime had been on the road (at Northern Arizona, at California, at Washington State).

Home-Court AdvantageWith a 10-3 home mark this year, the Sun Devils have turned in an 21-6 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, while this year's squad has won its last five games and six of its last seven at Wells Fargo Arena.

About UCLAUCLA, which fell at Arizona 89-79 Thursday night in Tucson, is 10th in the league with a 3-19 record and a 2-9 Pac-10 mark. The Bruins are in the midst of a six-game losing streak dating back to their Jan. 20 overtime victory over Arizona. Junior Michelle Greco, an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection from one year ago, leads the conference in scoring at 20.0 points per game including a game-high 26 points vs. USC last weekend. Greco also paces the Pac-10 in free throw percentage, knocking down 87.9 percent of her free throw attempts. Junior Kristee Porter leads the Bruins and is fourth in the league in rebounding at 7.6 boards per game. Porter, an All-American volleyball player, turned in a game-high 25 points and seven rebounds vs. Arizona on Thursday night. UCLA leads the Pac-10 in steals (11.45 per game) and turnover margin, forcing its opponents to commit 23.4 turnovers per game, the most in the league.

In the SeriesUCLA holds a commanding 35-10 advantage in the series with the Sun Devils dating back to the 1976-77 season, including a 17-6 edge in Tempe. Arizona State snapped a six-game overall losing streak and an eight-game road skid to the Bruins with its 78-68 win in Los Angeles on Jan. 18 and will be looking for its first home win over UCLA since Jan. 16, 1997 when the Sun Devils earned a 66-65 decision in Tempe, the first Pac-10 Conference win of Charli Turner Thorne's career at ASU. An ASU victory in Saturday night's game would also mark the first back-to-back Sun Devil wins in the series since ASU won the last game in the series of the 1995-96 season and the first of the 1996-97 campaign. It would also complete the first single-season sweep of the Bruins in ASU school history.

Southern California ConnectionsJunior Leah Combs, who will be out for three to four weeks after suffering a meniscus tear in her left knee vs. Washington on Feb. 10, 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.

Head coach Charli Turner Thorne is also a native of Southern California, graduating from Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills in 1984. Turner Thorne was also a graduate assistant at the University of Washington under then head coach Chris Gobrecht from 1988-90. During Turner Thorne's stint at Washington, the Huskies advanced to the NCAA Tournament both seasons reaching the Elite Eight in 1989-90. Gobrecht left UW following the 1995-96 season and spent a year at Florida State before returning to the Pac-10 Conference to go to USC.

Earlier This Season vs. UCLAWith 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. The Sun Devils downed the UCLA Bruins 78-68 Jan. 18 at Pauley Pavilion, snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Bruins and earning the team's first victory on UCLA's court since 1991-92.

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 midway through the first half and enjoyed a 38-27 cushion at halftime. 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. 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).

Keeping 'Em Off the ScoreboardArizona State leads the Pac-10 Conference in scoring defense, allowing just 60.9 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 and 51 points by Oregon State on Feb. 1, 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, while Arizona scored just 57 points, 23.8 points lower than their conference-leading 80.8 points per contest. 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 16.9 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 10 of the team's 24 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 17 of 24 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 are second in the Pac-10 in turnover margin, forcing 2.92 more turnovers than they commit per game. ASU is also fourth in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio at 0.83 (335 assists to 406 turnovers). Senior Natalie Tucker, who leads the team with an average of 3.6 assists per game (seventh in the Pac-10), is fourth in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.58).

Saturday night's matchup with UCLA will be of some interest in this category since ASU is averaging a Pac-10 low 16.9 giveaways per game, while UCLA leads the conference by forcing an average of 23.4 turnovers per contest.

Tough on the BoardsArizona State also leads the league in rebounding defense, allowing just 34.0 boards per game. In ASU's last four home games, the Sun Devils have allowed their opponents just 29.8 rebounds per game including a season-low 21 by the Oregon Ducks Feb. 3. As a team, ASU averages 35.6 rebounds per contest, which is ninth in the league, but has won the battle of the boards in 13 of its 24 games and is 12-1 in those games. The team's only loss when outrebounding its opponent came against Washington Jan. 11 in Tempe. Washington came into the game leading the Pac-10 in rebounding but lost that battle to the Sun Devils 40-35.

First and Facts About This SeasonSo far this season, the Sun Devils have accomplished a number of things that the team has not done in at least seven years:

* The Sun Devils won seven consecutive Pac-10 games (Jan. 11 to Feb. 8) for the first time in school history and turned in their longest overall winning streak since the 1991-92 squad opened the season with a school-record nine wins.

* ASU has defeated USC twice this year, marking the first time in school history.

* Arizona State has also cracked the national top 25 for the first time since 1991-92 and is ranked in consecutive weeks for the first time since 1982-83.

* ASU earned its first victory over Arizona in seven years, snapping a 14-game losing streak with its 67-57 win on Jan. 27, while the team's win over the No. 22/21 Ducks on Feb. 3 ended an 11-game skid vs. Oregon.

* The Sun Devils have upset a pair of ranked opponents this season which the team had not done in a single season since the 1991-92 NCAA Tournament-bound Sun Devils downed No. 17 Kansas and No. 21 Cal.

* With 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.

* ASU's win at UCLA snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Bruins and marked the team's first victory at Pauley Pavilion since 1991-92, while the Sun Devils' victory at Cal also marked the first for the team since that same season.

Bench ProductionWhile Arizona State's bench turned in a season-low two points at Washington, the team had averaged 16.3 points over the previous seven games. ASU's reserves turned in 16 points in the win over USC, led by sophomore Brett Leonard who had 10 points. Junior forward Cian Carvalho, who has started the last six games, has averaged 7.8 points and 5.9 rebounds over the last 10 games including a career-high 16 points to lead the team at UCLA Jan. 18, the third consecutive game that she notched a career scoring best. Also providing sparks off the bench are sophomore guard Brett Leonard and junior guard Rainy Crisp. Leonard has averaged 5.7 points per game over the last nine games (up from her season average of 3.8 ppg) with a career-high 12 on 4-of-7 shooting at UCLA and nine points vs. Oregon State, while Crisp has scored 4.0 points per game over the last seven with seven points at USC Jan. 20, a career-best nine vs. Arizona Jan. 27 and six vs. Oregon Feb. 3.

Notes From the Charity StripeArizona State turned in a season-high 80.9 percent performance from free throw line vs. USC on Thursday night, knocking down 38 of 47 attempts (both numbers were also season highs) ... The team's previous season high in that category also came against the Women of Troy when ASU shot 80 percent (16-20) from the line in Los Angeles on Jan. 20 ... ASU knocked down 15-of-15 attempts in the first half and its first 18 of the game with its first missing coming six minutes into the second half ... The Sun Devils have gotten to the line an average of 33 times over the last four games and knocked down 69 percent of those attempts (91-132) ... In the last 15 games, ASU has been to the free throw line 440 times (an average of 29.3 free throw attempts per game) and drained 66.0 percent of those attempts (289-440) ... Since shooting just 40.9 percent from the free throw line (9-22) in its season opener vs. Texas-San Antonio, ASU has shot 66.0 percent from the charity stripe since (398-604) ... Junior Amanda Levens is shooting a team-best 78.7 percent from the free throw line (118-150) which is good for third in the Pac-10 ... UCLA's Michelle Greco (87.9) and Oregon's Angelina Wolvert (80.0) rank ahead of Levens, but she has attempted twice as many as either player ... Levens' miss in the second half vs. Arizona ended a streak of 17 consecutive free throws (last three attempts vs. WSU, 4-4 at UCLA, 8-8 at USC, 2-3 vs. Arizona), while earlier this season, she had a streak of 16 consecutive free throws that ended in the Stanford game.

Notes From Beyond the ArcArizona State has knocked down 34.9 percent of its three-pointers (99-284), which ranks third in the conference. In the last four games, the Sun Devils have drained 40 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc (17-43) including a season-high 66.7 percent (6-9) in their victory over Oregon Feb. 3. The team had eight treys in wins at Hawaii and UCLA, which was one shy of the school single-game record of nine three-pointers made in a contest.

Junior Amanda Levens has met success on 41.7 percent of her attempts and is shooting better from three-point land than she is from the field (41.7 to 38.9 percent). Levens has a team-best 43 three-pointers on the season which is already sixth on ASU's single-season charts and just 13 shy of the school record (56) set by Crystal Cobb in 1990-91. The 5-9 junior ranks fifth in the Pac-10 in three-point field goal percentage and sixth in three-pointers made (1.79 treys per game). She has hit three treys in three of the last four games and at least one in each of the past nine games. In those nine games, Leven has been successful on 50 percent of her attempts (21-42). Her best performance from three-point land this season was 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 20 games and more than one in 14 of those contests, while freshman Betsy Boardman has at least one trey in 15 games. Boardman is just out of the top 10 in Pac-10 in three-point field goal percentage, draining 33.3 percent of her attempts (24-72) including a stellar 3-of-4 effort from beyond the arc vs. Oregon Feb. 3 and a 2-of-3 showing at Washington State Feb. 8.

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 each of her five seasons and guided ASU to five 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, while the team has surpassed both of those marks so far in 2000-01. 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' victory over Oregon on Feb. 3 marked the 100th win of head coach Charli Turner Thorne's coaching career and her 60th while at ASU. She has notched a 62-73 record in four-plus seasons at Arizona State and was 40-40 in her three seasons at Northern Arizona. With the team's win over Oregon, Turner Thorne has also led her Sun Devils to victories over every Pac-10 school in her four-plus seasons at ASU.

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 15.0 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 on the squad and seventh in the Pac-10 in scoring at 14.7 ppg and has scored in double figures in 20 of 24 games and had nine points in each of the other two. Levens, who was the Jan. 29 Pac-10 Player of the Week, has hit a team-best 43 three-pointers, while Johnson, who earned the first conference player-of-the-week award this year, leads the Sun Devils in rebounding at 7.0 boards per game which is good for sixfth 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 15.0 points per game. Junior Melody Johnson, who transferred from the University of Colorado, is averaging 14.7 points and a team-best 7.0 rebounds, honorable-mention high school All-American Betsy Boardman is averaging 11.3 points (16th in the Pac-10) and junior Cian Carvalho, a junior college transfer from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community is fourth on the team with 6.6 points per game and second with 5.2 rebounds per contest (which ranks 19th in the Pac-10). ASU's newcomers have been the leading scorers in each of ASU's 24 games this season, most recently with Johnson scoring 19 points in games at Washington State and Washington and Levens with 22 vs. USC on Thursday night.

Three-Dot DataThree Sun Devils rank in the top 20 in the Pac-10 in scoring (Amanda Levens-sixth, Melody Johnson-seventh, Betsy Boardman-16th), while Johnson and Cian Carvalho are among the top 20 rebounders in the conference (Johnson-sixth, Carvalho-19th) ... With a 17-7 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 ... Senior Natalie Tucker has started 80 consecutive games, every game of her three-year career at ASU ... Tucker leads the team in assists for the third straight season at 3.6 assists per game, while the senior guard has 327 career assists (4.1 per game) which ranks seventh on the ASU list ... she also ranks in ASU's top 10 for career three-pointers and free throw percentage ... ASU has overcome four half-time deficits for victories this season (at Northern Arizona, at California, at Washington State) ... ASU is averaging 14.0 assists per game in 2000-01 with 12 of 13 players getting into the action ... ASU has held 13 teams to four three-pointers or less this season including three opponents with no treys.

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