Women's Hoops to Host Kansas Wednesday Night at Wells Fargo Arena

Dec. 3, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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After capturing the title in last weekend's ASU Holiday Classic in Tempe, their second tournament championship of the year, the Arizona State Sun Devils wrap up their home nonconference slate with a game against the Kansas Jayhawks Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils are currently riding a four-game winning streak that started on Nov. 25 with a win over another team from the Sunflower state and the Big 12 Conference, Kansas State, and was extended most recently with a 59-56 win over Rutgers last week in the championship game of ASU's tournament. Kansas brings a 3-4 record to Tempe after falling to Oregon 67-60 in the championship game of its own Holiday Inn Jayhawk Classic last weekend.

Up NextFollowing Wednesday night's matchup with the Jayhawks, ASU will take a week off for finals. The team returns to action the following week when the Sun Devils travel to the Land of Lincoln for games at Chicago State (Dec. 13) and Northern Illinois (Dec. 15).

StreakingASU's four-game winning streak is the longest for the team since winning seven consecutive Pac-10 games last year. The 1991-92 team holds the school record for consecutive victories, opening the season with nine straight victories.

Last Time OutSenior Amanda Levens scored 14 points to lead the Sun Devils to a 59-56 come-from-behind victory over Rutgers in the championship game of the ASU Holiday Classic Sunday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils won their own tournament for the 11th time in 22 years and regained the title in the ASU Holiday Classic after coming up short in last year's championship game. Levens earned tournament MVP honors, while Arizona State senior Melody Johnson was named to the all-tournament team. Rounding out the all-tournament selections were Angela Davidson of Northwestern State, Lauren Fleischer of Fordham, Mauri Horton of Rutgers and Dawn McCullouch of Rutgers.

Arizona State took the early lead in the first half, going up by as many as seven points midway through the period, but Rutgers came back to tie the game twice, first at 19 with 7:36 to play and then again at 27 with 2:18 to play in the first half. Sophomore Betsy Boardman put the Sun Devils up 29-27 with a pair of free throws with 2:11 to play, but the Scarlet Knights cut the lead to one with a free throw by Nikki Jett at 2:08 and then took the lead with a three-pointer by Horton, going into the locker room with a 31-29 advantage. Boardman and Johnson each had seven points at the half for the Sun Devils, while Horton led all scorers with 11 points, including a 3-of-3 effort from beyond the arc. Freshman Carrie Buckner pulled down seven of her career-best eight rebounds in the first half.

In the second half, Rutgers took control of the game. Horton scored the first eight points of the half for Rutgers on a pair of three-pointers and a layup, and the Scarlet Knights went up by seven points, 39-32, with 15:29 to play. ASU got within three with 14:24 to play, but Rutgers scored the next four points of the game to go up 43-36 with 13:14 to play.

The Sun Devils then went on a 12-6 run that began with a three-pointer by Levens and ended with a three-pointer by freshman Jen Albert, her second trey of the year, to regain a 50-48 lead with 7:40 to play in the game. The two teams traded baskets on the next four possessions, but ASU took over for good when senior Cian Carvalho knocked down a layup to put ASU up 54-52 with 4:58 to play. Including that layup, Carvalho scored the final seven points of the ball game for the Sun Devils who earned the 59-56 victory.

Levens led the team with 14 points, while Johnson had 13. Carvalho finished with 11 points, nine of which came in the second half, and freshman Kylan Loney dished out a career-best seven assists. Rutgers' Horton led all scorers with 21.

In the consolation game, Fordham earned a 62-51 victory over Northwestern State. Three Fordham players reached double figures for scoring, led by Lauren Fleischer who had 18. For Northwestern State, Angela Davidson led the team with 14 points.

About KansasThe Kansas Jayhawks are 3-4 on the season, most recently downing Alabama State 62-61 and falling to Oregon 67-60 in last weekend's Holiday Inn Jayhawk Classic. KU and 29th-year head coach Marian Washington return seven letterwinners and two starters from last year's 12-17 team. Senior guard KC Hilgenkamp leads the team in scoring at 13.1 points per game, including 21 in the team's loss to Oregon. Senior guard Selena Scott is also averaging in double figures for scoring at 12.4 ppg, while sophomore forward Sharonn� Spencer is the top rebounder for the Jayhawks at 6.1 boards per contest.

In the SeriesThe series between Arizona State and Kansas is tied at 1-1 with then No. 22 KU winning the last meeting with an 81-65 victory in Lawrence, Kan., on Jan. 2, 2000. ASU's win in the series came during the 1991-92 season when the Sun Devils earned a 71-72 victory over then 17th-ranked KU on Jan. 3, 1992, at Florida International's tournament in Miami. ASU is 9-21 all time vs. teams from the Big XII Conference and snapped a three-game losing streak against opponents from that league earlier this season, downing Kansas State 76-58 at the Paradise Jam.

Kansas ConnectionsArizona State senior forward Cian Carvalho and Kansas senior guard KC Hilgenkamp played together for two seasons at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College (1998-00). Carvalho finished her career at Hutch as the school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder, while both players earned All-Jayhawk Conference honors each season they played there.

Not Shying Away From AnyoneIncluding Wednesday night's game against Kansas head coach Marian Washington and the Jayhawks, ASU has played teams coached by 12 of the 25 all-time winningest women's basketball coaches over the last five seasons. In the past three seasons, ASU has played all five of the all-time winning women's basketball coaches in NCAA history. Kansas' Washington ranks 16th in the all-time NCAA wins list. Last weekend, the Sun Devils downed Rutgers and head coach C. Vivian Stringer, who is third in all-time wins, while in the team's season-opener, the Sun Devils defeated St. Peter's, coached by Mike Granelli who is 10th on the list.

Home-Court AdvantageWith a 3-1 home mark this year, the Sun Devils have turned in an 25-7 mark at home in the last three seasons. Last year, the team went 12-4 at home, tying the school record for home victories at Wells Fargo Arena.

Turner Thorne Third in All-Time Wins at ASUWith a 71-79 record at ASU, head coach Charli Turner Thorne is already third in all-time wins by a Sun Devil women's basketball coach. Last year's Pac-10 Coach of the Year, she needs just five wins to move into second on that list and pass Maura McHugh who turned in a 75-65 record in her six seasons at the helm from 1987-93. Juliene Simpson is the all-time winningest coach in ASU women's basketball history, notching a 134-92 record in eight seasons (1979-1987).

In the PollsArizona State is unranked for the second week after dropping out of the poll on Nov. 26, but continues to receive votes in each poll (34th in AP, 30th USA Today). Following its back-to-back losses two weeks ago, Arizona State dropped out of the polls on Nov. 26 after being ranked 21st and 25th in the Nov. 19 Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches polls, respectively.

The highest ASU was ranked last year was 22nd on Feb. 26, while ASU's No. 21 ranking on Nov. 19 was the highest since the Sun Devils were ranked 16th in the preseason AP poll in 1983-84. ASU was 22nd in this year's preseason AP poll, marking the first time in 18 years that the Sun Devils were ranked in the preseason, while the team had shown up in several other preseason polls, ranking as high as 17th.

Getting It Done on the GlassThe Sun Devils have outrebounded all seven of their opponents this season, averaging 40.0 rebounds per game compared to a Pac-10 low 31.3 for their opponents. In the last five games, ASU has held its opponent to just 29.4 boards, including a season-low 23 by Rutgers. Last season, ASU also led the Pac-10 in rebounding defense, holding its opponents to just 33.5 boards per contest.

Even more impressive is the fact that the Sun Devils have held their opponents to just 63 offensive rebounds this year, an average of 7.9 per game. In the last five games, ASU's opponents have had just 38 offensive boards (7.6 orpg) and scored just 26 second-chance points (5.2 ppg).

Scoring DefenseAfter leading the Pac-10 in scoring defense last year (61.5 ppg), ASU has continued its stingy ways in 2001-02, allowing just 58.4 points per game. The Sun Devils rank second in the Pac-10 in the category behind Cal (55.2 ppg). ASU held Fordham to just 40 points, the fewest points given up this year and the fewest since downing South Florida 74-39 on Nov. 19 of last year, while the Sun Devils held Kansas State to a season-low 58 points, 27 points below the Wildcats' season average of 85.7 ppg.

Lighting Up the ScoreboardSenior guard Amanda Levens leads the team and is ranked fifth in the Pac-10 at 17.9 points per game this season, including two 20-point performances and one 30-point effort. She has led the team in scoring in six of eight games this year, including both games of the ASU Holiday Classic en route to tournament MVP honors.

The transfer from Old Dominion University scored a career-high 30 points in ASU's season-opening win over St. Peter's and had a team-high 20 in the loss to Loyola Marymount, while in the Paradise Jam, Levens just missed tying her career high with 29 points in ASU's win over Kansas State. Leven's 30-point effort vs. St. Peter's marked the most points for a Sun Devil since Molly Tuter scored 32 in a 70-66 victory over Southern Utah on Nov. 8, 1997. In her short ASU career, Levens has led the Sun Devil squad in scoring in 19 games and has had 10 efforts with 20 points or more.

Dishing It OutASU's starting backcourt of senior Amanda Levens and freshman Kylan Loney is averaging 8.1 assists per game so far this season, the most since Natalie Tucker and Kitch Kitchen averaged 8.4 assists as the second-best tandem in the Pac-10 in 1998-99. At 4.1 assists per game, Levens ranks eighth in the Pac-10 in the category, while Loney is tied for ninth at 4.0 per game. Loney is averaging 5.0 assists per game over the last three games, including a career-best seven vs. Rutgers and six vs. Richmond. She is ranked seventh in the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.7, while Levens is ninth in that category at 1.4.

Quick Hits

- Senior center Melody Johnson has notched double figures in all but one game this year and all but three games in her ASU career. She turned in her first double-double of the season and the sixth of her ASU career with 16 points and 11 rebounds vs. Richmond to earn Paradise Jam MVP honors. Johnson has averaged 14.2 points per game over the last five contests, including 13 points in just 22 minutes vs. Rutgers. Johnson had seven points in nine minutes in the first half vs. the Scarlet Knights before leaving the game with a knee injury. An ASU Holiday Classic all-tournament selection, she came back from the injury in the second half and had six points in 12 minutes, including a pair of key shots in the paint, in the victory.

- While the Sun Devils have gotten to the free throw line an astounding 240 times in eight games (30.0 times per game and 66 more times than any other Pac-10 school), the team has struggled at the charity stripe, knocking down just 60.4 percent of its attempts (145-240). In their win over Fordham, the Sun Devils knocked dwn just 53.2 percent of their attempts, notching that season-low percentage for the second time this year. Senior Amanda Levens, who is first on the ASU single-season charts for free throws and second in attempts, has already been to the line 75 times this year and has knocked down 74.7 percent of her attempts (56-75).

- ASU's bench has averaged 21.4 points per game over the last five contests, including a season-high 24 points vs. Fordham and 19 vs. Rutgers. Senior Cian Carvalho is the leading scorer off the bench at 6.4 points per game, including 11 points (ASU's last seven) in Sunday's victory over Rutgers. Freshman Carrie Buckner has provided a spark off the bench at both ends of the court with 4.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.

- Senior Amanda Levens has moved into sole possession of fifth place on ASU's career list for three-pointers made with 73 in her career. She has knocked down a team-best 13 this season and is shooting 36.1 percent from beyond the arc this season (10-27). Over the last four games, Levens has shot 40 percent from three-point land (8-20), including a season-best four-of-eight vs. Kansas State. She is now chasing Ryneldi Becenti (90 in 1991-93) for fourth place, while Crystal Cobb (1989-94) holds the ASU school record with 134 three-pointers in her career.

Tough SlateThis season, Arizona State will play 11 games against six teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament or the Women's National Invitation Tournament last year. NCAA qualifiers on the 2001-02 slate include Oregon, Stanford and Washington, while Loyola Marymount, Arizona and Oregon State advanced to the WNIT. The Sun Devils also have a chance to take on NCAA qualifier and Big East powerhouse Rutgers in the second round of the ASU Holiday Classic.

ASU Picked Second, Fourth in Preseason Pac-10 PollsArizona State has been picked to finish second in the Pac-10 Conference by the media (with a pair of first-place votes) and fourth by the league's coaches. Last year, ASU was tabbed fifth by the coaches and sixth by the media in their preseason polls but surpassed all outside expectations by finishing in a tie for first with Stanford and Washington for ASU's first ever Pac-10 basketball title.

Pac-10 Conference HonoreesThe Sun Devils return a trio of all-conference performers from one season ago, including senior center Melody Johnson and senior guard Amanda Levens who were named to the All-Pac-10 Conference first team, marking the first time in school history that ASU has had two players earn first-team accolades. Arizona was the only other school to have two first-team selections last year. Freshman guard/forward Betsy Boardman was named to the five-player Freshman All-Pac-10 squad, marking the third consecutive season that the Sun Devils have had a player named to the all-rookie team. In addition, three Sun Devils earned Academic All-Pac-10 honors with junior Leah Combs becoming ASU's first first-team selection since 1990.

Head coach Charli Turner Thorne was named the 2001 Pac-10 Conference Coach of the Year as selected by the league's coaches, ASU's first such honor, and was one of eight finalists for the 2001 Russell Athletic/WBCA Division I National Coach of the Year Award. As a finalist, Turner Thorne earned the distinction of WBCA District 8 Coach of the Year as selected by WBCA member coaches from that geographical region.

Pac-10 Postseason TournamentA new era starts as the Pac-10 begins its first annual Women's Basketball Tournament on March 1-4, 2002, at McArthur Court on the campus of the University of Oregon, in Eugene, Oregon. The league's Directors of Athletics and the Pac-10 Council approved the postseason tournament last fall. The Pac-10 postseason tournament will be a 10-team event which will be hosted by one of the Pac-10 members on its campus each year. A total of nine games will be played with the champion earning the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

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. That climb culminated in 2000-01 when Turner Thorne's Sun Devils captured ASU's first Pac-10 Championship, an NCAA berth, a return to the national rankings and the team's first 20-win season in nine years. The 2001 Pac-10 Coach of the Year and District 8 Regional Coach of the Year 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 1999-00, 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.

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