Women's Basketball Earns First NCAA Tournament Appearance in Nine Years

March 11, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. - Arizona State University's women's basketball team earned its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1992 today and will face LSU (19-10, 8-6) Friday, March 16 at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana at 4 p.m. MT. ESPN2 will show the game live to a national audience. The other teams in the region are #3 seed Purdue (26-6, 14-2) and #14 seed UC-Santa Barbara (22-8).

Ticket information can be obtained by calling the Sun Devil athletic ticket office tomorrow at 480/965-2381, beginning at 8:30 a.m. MT.

Arizona State (20-10, 12-6), under fifth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne, finished in a three-way tie for first-place in the Pacific-10 Conference with NCAA tournament participants Stanford and Washington. The Sun Devils have notched their most wins since 1991-92 and just the fifth 20-win season in school history. The Sun Devils were picked to finish fifth (coaches) and sixth (media) in the preseason Pacific-10 Conference polls.

The Sun Devils are led by 5-9 junior guard Amanda Levens (15.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg) and 6-2 junior center Melody Johnson (14.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg), who is sixth in the Pac-10 in rebounding. True freshman forward Betsy Boardman (11.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg) is seventh in the Pac-10 in steals (2.1 per game).Levens is the only Sun Devil to have appeared in the NCAA Tournament, helping Old Dominion to two Sweet Sixteen appearances before transferring to ASU last year.

ASU's last NCAA Tournament appearance came in 1992 when the sixth-seeded Sun Devils lost a heartbreaker to host DePaul, 67-65, at a Midwest Region first-round game in Chicago. The 1992 appearance was ASU's first NCAA invitation in nine years. This will mark ASU's fourth NCAA Tournament appearance and they are 2-3 in their previous forays in the tourney. ASU has reached the Sweet Sixteen on two occasions (1982 and 1983), both under then head coach Juliene Simpson. Both times ASU lost to the eventual national champion (Louisiana Tech in '82 and USC in '83).

Turner Thorne, the District 8 Russell Athletic/WBCA Coach of the Year and one of eight finalists for national coach of the year, gave birth to her second son, Liam Turner Thorne, at 4:29 p.m. Sunday at a Valley hospital.She hopes to coach the team in its first-round tournament game this weekend. Turner Thorne, and her husband Will, have another son, Conor, who was born Feb. 9, 1999.

LSU is led by 5-9 guard Marie Ferdinand, who leads the Tigers with a 20.7 points per game average. 5-11 forward April Brown averages 11.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest.

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