Women's Basketball To Play at Chicago State and Northern Illinois

Dec. 11, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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After taking a week off for finals, the Arizona State Sun Devils wrap up their non-conference slate with a trip to the state of Illinois, taking on Chicago State on Dec. 13 and Northern Illinois on Dec. 15. The Sun Devils head to the Land of Lincoln on a five-game winning streak that most recently included a 73-52 victory over Kansas Dec. 5 at Wells Fargo Arena. With a pair of wins on their trip, ASU would match the team's seven-game winning streak of last year, while ASU has turned in a 7-2 record so far this year, which is one game better than the pace of last year's Pac-10 Championship squad through nine games. Chicago State is 3-4 on the year, while Northern Illinois has won four consecutive games and is 5-2 on the year.

StreakingASU's five-game winning streak is the longest for the team since it won 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.

Illinois ConnectionsSenior guard Amanda Levens hails from Belvidere, Illinois ... A three-time all-state performer at Belvidere High School, Levens was named to the Rockford Register Star All-Century Girls' Team in the fall of 2000 ... senior guard Rainy Crisp will also have a large contigent of family and friends on hand for both games ... her father, Earl, was a three-sport standout (football, track, wrestling) at Joliet (Ill.) Junior College.

Levens Named Pac-10 Player of the WeekSenior guard Amanda Levens has been named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Dec. 3-9, Commissioner Tom Hansen announced Monday. Levens notched a game-high 28 points as the Sun Devils downed Kansas 73-52 on Dec. 5 to win their fifth straight game. Levens shot 60.0 percent from the field (9-of-15), and scored 19 points in the opening half. She connected on a career-best 6 of 9 three-point baskets (66.7 percent) and made 4 of 5 free throws (80.0 percent). Levens also contributed five assists, four rebounds and two steals in the victory. The Player of the Week honor is the second of Levens' career and the 20th all-time selection for Arizona State.

Last Time OutSenior guard Amanda Levens scored 28 points, hitting a career-best six-of-nine three-pointers, as ASU won its fifth straight game with a 73-52 victory over Kansas Dec. 5 at Wells Fargo Arena.

Kansas led for most of the first half, going ahead by as many as eight points (17-9) with 10:29 to play and shooting 61.5 percent. The Sun Devils made their move late in the period when freshman Carrie Buckner knocked down a three-pointer and then hit a jumper to put the Sun Devils up 28-27 with 3:29 left in the half. The two teams traded buckets over the next three minutes, including a layup and an assist by Buckner, while the Sun Devil freshman put the team up 35-33 at the half with a jumper at the buzzer.

Levens had 19 of her points in the first half, including five three-pointers and the first six points of the game, while Buckner turned in a career-best 10 points in the first half on 4-of-6 shooting.

In the second half, Kansas scored the first two buckets to go ahead by one (38-37) with 18:03 to play, but the Sun Devils used a 21-5 run over the next six minutes to regain the lead and go up by double digits. Sophomore Jen Albert scored six of her career-best 10 points in that run, while sophomore Betsy Boardman had eight points and five rebounds, all in the second half. After shooting 61.5 percent in the first half, Kansas was held to just 20 percent shooting in the second.

Levens led all scorers in the game with 28 points for her fourth 20-point effort of the year, while Buckner and Albert each turned in career highs with 10 points apiece. Senior Cian Carvalho, a transfer from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, led the game with nine rebounds. Three Jayhawks scored in double figures, led by senior guard Selena Scott who had 14 points.

About Chicago State and Northern IllinoisThe Chicago State Cougars are 3-4 on the year, most recently falling to Eastern Michigan 51-45 on Dec. 3. Cheryl Littlejohn is in her first year as the head coach of the Cougars and returns two starters and seven letterwinners from last year's 10-19 team. Sophomore forward Kathy Coleman, a transfer from McNeese State, leads the team in scoring at 11.7 points per game, while junior guard Krisey Sanders, a transfer from Garden City (Kan.) Community College, is second on the team at 10.6 ppg, including 21 points in the team's loss to Eastern Michigan. Senior forward Michelle Allen paces the club in rebounding at 6.0 rebounds per game.

Northern Illinois has turned in a 5-2 record on the year, most recently downing Dayton 61-52 on Dec. 8. Nine letterwinners and four starters return from last year's 16-16 team for 29th-year head coach Carol Hammerle. Two Huskies are averaging in double figures for scoring, led by sophomore forward Jennifer Youngblood at 14.1 points per game, including 17 in the team's win over the Flyers. Youngblood is also the team's top rebounder, averaging 8.0 boards per contest.

In the SeriesThursday night's game with Chicago State will mark the first meeting between the Sun Devils and the Cougars, while ASU holds a 3-1 record against teams from the Mid-Continent Conference, most recently downing Southern Utah 70-66 on Jan. 8, 1997, Charli Turner Thorne's first year at ASU.

Arizona State will also be facing Northern Illinois for the first time in school history when the team travels to DeKalb on Saturday. The Sun Devils are 2-1 all time vs. teams from the Mid-American Conference, falling to Western Michigan earlier this season in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.

Lighting Up the ScoreboardSenior guard Amanda Levens leads the team and is ranked fourth in the Pac-10 at 19.0 points per game this season, including three 20-point performances and one 30-point effort. She has led the team in scoring in seven of nine games this year, including a game-high 28 points in the team's win over Kansas on Dec. 5.

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 at 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 ASU in scoring in 20 games and has had 11 efforts with 20 points or more.

Joining the 1,000-Point ClubWith eight points in ASU's win over Kansas, senior Melody Johnson has joined the 1,000-point club, scoring 1,005 points so far in her career. Johnson had 440 points in her two seasons at the University of Colorado and 565 so far at ASU, while the Colorado Springs, Colo., native needs just 39 more rebounds to reach the 500-board mark for her career (199 at Colorado, 272 so far at ASU).

Senior Amanda Levens, who came to ASU after two seasons at Old Dominion, is also closing in on the 1,000-point club. She needs just 58 more points to reach that mark (302 points at ODU, 640 at ASU).

The pair also has a shot at becoming the 13th and 14th Sun Devils to join ASU's 1000-point club and the first players since Olivia Jones (1980-83) to do it in just two seasons. Levens needs 360 more points at ASU, while Johnson needs 435 to accomplish the feat.

Amanda's Hot HandSenior guard Amanda Levens has shot 48.3 percent from three-point land (14-29) over the past five games, including a career-best 6-of-9 performance in ASU's win over Kansas last week. She has knocked down a team-best 19 treys, is shooting 42.2 percent from beyond the arc (19-45) and has knocked down at least one three-pointer in all but one game this year and all but five games in her Sun Devil career. ASU's single-season leader with 60 three-pointers made last year, Levens already stands in fifth place on ASU's career list with 79 three-pointers in her career. 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.

In the PollsArizona State is unranked for the third week after dropping out of the poll on Nov. 26, but continues to receive votes in each poll (28th in AP, 30th USA Today). Following its back-to-back losses three 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.

Not Shying Away From AnyoneIncluding Saturday's game against Northern Illinois head coach Carol Hammerle and the Huskies, ASU has played teams coached by 12 of the 25 all-time winningest women's basketball coaches over the last five seasons. Hammerle is 22nd in all-time wins. In the past three seasons alone, ASU has played all five of the all-time winning women's basketball coaches in NCAA history.

ASU has already played three of the all-time winningest coaches so far this year, coming up with wins in all three games. Most recently, ASU downed Marian Washington (16th) and the Kansas Jayhawks, while the Sun Devils defeated Rutgers and head coach C. Vivian Stringer, who is third in all-time wins, in the championship game of the ASU Holiday Classic on Dec. 2. In the team's season-opener, ASU downed St. Peter's, coached by Mike Granelli who is 10th on the list.

Getting It Done on the GlassThe Sun Devils have outrebounded all eight of their opponents this season, averaging 40.3 rebounds per game compared to a Pac-10 low 31.7 for their opponents. In the last six games, ASU has held its opponents to just 30.3 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 75 offensive rebounds this year, an average of 8.3 per game. In the last six games, ASU's opponents have had just 50 offensive boards (8.3 orpg) and scored just 30 second-chance points (5.0 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 57.7 points per game. In the last three games, ASU's defense has allowed just 49.3 points per game.

The Sun Devils rank second in the Pac-10 in the category behind Cal (54.9 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' then season average of 85.7 ppg.

Turner Thorne Third in All-Time Wins at ASUWith a 72-79 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 four 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).

Dishing It OutASU's starting backcourt of senior Amanda Levens and true freshman Kylan Loney is averaging 8.3 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 4.2 assists per game, Levens ranks seventh in the Pac-10 in the category, while Loney is eighth at 4.1 per game. Loney is averaging 5.5 assists per game over the last four 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 1.6, while Levens is ninth in that category at 1.4.

Quick Hits

- ASU turned in its best shooting night of the year vs. Kansas, hitting 46.3 percent of its field goal attempts (25-54) and 47.1 percent of its three-point attempts (8-17). The team's previous best was a win vs. Kansas State when the Sun Devils shot 45.6 and 45.5 percent from the field and the three-point line, respectively.

- After shooting just 36.8 percent from the field in its first four games (87-236), ASU has shot 43.5 percent in the last five (117-169).

- Senior center Melody Johnson has notched double figures in all but two games this year and all but four 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 13.1 points per game over the last six 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.

- Johnson continues to lead Arizona State in career field goal percentage, completing 56.1 percent of her attempts (213-380). This year, the Colorado Springs, Colo., native ranks second in the Pac-10 in the category, knocking down 53.9 percent of her attempts from the field (41-76).

- While the Sun Devils have gotten to the free throw line 265 times in nine games (29.4 times per game and 68 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 (160-265). In their win over Fordham, the Sun Devils knocked down 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 80 times this year and has knocked down 75.0 percent of her attempts (60-80).

- ASU's bench has averaged 21.7 points per game over the last six contests, including a season-high 24 points vs. Fordham and 23 vs. Kansas. Senior Cian Carvalho (who has started five games this year, including the Kansas game) is the leading scorer off the bench at 5.8 points per game, including 11 points (ASU's last seven) in the Dec. 2 victory over Rutgers. Freshman Carrie Buckner has provided a spark off the bench at both ends of the court with 5.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game.

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.

Recruiting ClassArizona State's recruiting class for the 2002-03 season is ranked 24th in the nation by Blue Star. Here's a list of the six players that ASU signed in the early period:

Name	Ht.	Pos.	Hometown/SchoolAmy Denson	6-1	F	Central Point, Ore./Crater HSKristen Kovesdy	6-3	F	Scottsdale, Ariz./St. Mary's HSJill Noe	5-10	G	Tualatin, Ore./Wilsonville HSYoVanna Rosenthal	5-7	G	Phoenix, Ariz./Thunderbird HSJenny Thigpin	6-3	F	Hanford, Calif./Hanford HSIman Young	5-9	G	San Pablo, Calif./Contra Costa CC

Tough SlateThis season, Arizona State will play 12 games against seven 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, Rutgers and Washington, while Loyola Marymount, Arizona and Oregon State advanced to the WNIT last season.

Home-Court AdvantageWith a 5-1 home mark this year, the Sun Devils have turned in an 27-7 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.

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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