Women's Basketball to Host Intrastate Rival Arizona Sunday Afternoon

Dec. 27, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. - Winners of eight of their last nine games, the Arizona State Sun Devils resume Pac-10 Conference action, playing host to intrastate rival Arizona at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 30 at Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils, now 10-3 on the year, opened Pac-10 play with a 1-1 record, falling to sixth-ranked Stanford on Dec. 21, which snapped a seven-game winning streak, and then downing Cal on Dec. 23 for their first Pac-10 win of the year. Sunday's game with the Wildcats will mark the 53rd match-up between the two teams in ASU's longest running series, which dating back to the 1975-76 season, the first year of the Sun Devil women's basketball program. The Sun Devils have won the last two games in the series, while a win on Sunday would give the Sun Devils their longest winning streak in the series with Arizona since winning four straight over the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons. Arizona is 5-5 overall and 1-1 in the Pac-10, opening the conference with a loss to Stanford and a win over Cal last weekend.

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).

Turner Thorne Tied for Second in All-Time Wins at ASUWith a 75-79 record at ASU, head coach Charli Turner Thorne is tied for second with Maura McHugh in all-time wins by a Sun Devil women's basketball coach. With her next victory, the 2001 Pac-10 Coach of the Year will pass up 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 (1979-87).

Last Time OutFour Sun Devils scored in double figures for the first time this season as Arizona State posted its first Pac-10 victory of the year, downing Cal 63-49 Dec. 23 at Wells Fargo Arena.

Cal took an early lead in the game, going up by four points on two occasions and taking a 12-8 lead with 12:19 to play in the half, but ASU answered with a 9-0 run which put the Sun Devils up 17-12 with 8:18 remaining in the half. ASU went up by as many as nine points in the first half and led 31-22 at halftime on the strength of eight points from senior Cian Carvalho and seven for senior Amanda Levens.

In the second half, ASU quickly increased its lead to double digits, going up 42-26 with 17:31 on a steal and layup by Levens. Cal pulled within nine points twice in the next two and a half minutes, but ASU closed out the victory with an 8-0 run to go up by 16 points. The Sun Devils led by as many as 19 points in the waning minutes of the game before coming away with the 63-49 win.

Levens led the Sun Devils in scoring for the 11th time this year with 16 points, while freshman Carrie Buckner, sophomore Betsy Boardman and Carvalho each contributed 12 points in the victory. Buckner and Boardman each turned in season highs in scoring, while Buckner also grabbed a career-best nine rebounds and dished out a career-best two assists. Cal senior Ami Forney posted her second double-double of the year to lead the Golden Bears with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

Winning the Battle of the BoardsASU has outrebounded all but one of its opponents this season and holds a 10-2 record in their games. Stanford was the only team to outrebound the Sun Devils so far, beating ASU 32-27. vs. Stanford, losing the battle of the boards to the Cardinal 32-27. The Sun Devils are averaging 38.4 rebounds per game compared to a Pac-10 low 31.6 for their opponents. In the last 10 games, ASU has held its opponents to just 30.8 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.

Home-Court AdvantageWith a 6-2 home mark this year, the Sun Devils have turned in a 28-8 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.

In the PollsArizona State is unranked for the fifth week after dropping out of the poll on Nov. 26 but continues to receive votes in each poll (28th in AP, 34th USA Today). Following back-to-back losses on Nov. 21 and Nov. 24, 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. Arizona is unranked.

About ArizonaArizona brings a 5-5 overall record and a 1-1 Pac-10 mark to Tempe this weekend. The Wildcats have been up and down this year, opening the season with three wins followed by three losses. The team's win over Cal last weekend snapped a two-game losing streak for the Wildcats. Senior forward Elizabeth Pickney leads the three Wildcats who are averaging in double figures at 18.1 points per game. Two U-of-A players are averaging eight rebounds per game led by junior Krista Warren at 8.5 boards per contest.

In the SeriesArizona State holds a 31-21 advantage in the all-time series with Arizona, including a 15-12 advantage in games played in Tempe. Last season, ASU snapped a 14-game skid to the Wildcats with a 67-57 victory in Tempe on Jan. 27 followed by a 70-67 overtime victory in Tucson on Feb. 24. Last year's two wins gave ASU its first series sweep of Arizona since 1992-93 and its first victory in Tucson in eight tries. With a win Sunday, ASU would have its longest winning streak in the series with Arizona since the Sun Devils took four straight from the Wildcats over the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons.

The series with Arizona 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. 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).

Lighting Up the ScoreboardSenior guard Amanda Levens, winner of each of the last two Pac-10 Player-of-the-Week honors, leads the team and is ranked second in the Pac-10 at 20.2 points per game this season, including seven efforts with 20 points or more. She has led the team in scoring in 11 of 13 games this year and has topped the 20-point mark in four of the last five games, including a game-high 28 vs. Stanford on Dec. 23.

The transfer from Old Dominion University scored a career-high 30 points in ASU's season-opening win over St. Peter's, 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 26 games and has had 14 efforts with 20 points or more.

Joining the 1,000-Point ClubSeniors Amanda Levens and Melody Johnson have each surpassed the 1,000-point mark for their careers this season. Levens, who came to ASU after two seasons at Old Dominion, has scored 1,033 points in her career (302 points at ODU, 731 at ASU), while Johnson has now scored 1,043 points in her career. Johnson had 440 points in her two seasons at the University of Colorado and has 603 so far at ASU, while the Colorado Springs, Colo., native needs just seven more rebounds to reach the 500-board mark for her career (199 at Colorado, 294 so far 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 269 more points at ASU, while Johnson needs 397 to accomplish the feat.

Amanda's Hot HandSenior guard Amanda Levens has shot 44.7 percent from three-point land (21-47) over the past nine games, including a career-best 6-of-9 performance in ASU's win over Kansas on Dec. 5. She has knocked down a team-best 26 treys and is shooting 41.3 percent from beyond the arc (26-63). Levens has knocked down at least one three-pointer in all but two games this year and all but six games in her Sun Devil career. She has also had more than one three-pointer in seven games this year, including three vs. Stanford.

ASU's single-season leader with 60 three-pointers made last year, Levens already stands in fifth place on ASU's career list with 86 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.

Scoring DefenseAfter leading the Pac-10 in scoring defense last year (61.5 ppg), ASU has continued its stingy ways in 2001-02, ranking first in the league again and allowing just 56.6 points per game. Prior to giving up 75 points against Stanford, ASU's defense had allowed just 48.2 points per game in the previous five games. ASU set a school record by holding Chicago State to just nine points in the first half of its 83-43 victory on Dec. 13. ASU has held four teams under 50 points, including 49 by Cal last weekend and 40 points by Fordham on Dec. 1, the fewest points given up this year and the fewest since downing South Florida 74-39 on Nov. 19 of last year.

Dishing It OutASU's starting backcourt of senior Amanda Levens and true freshman Kylan Loney is averaging 7.8 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 4.3 assists per game, Levens ranks seventh in the Pac-10 in the category and has led the team with five assists in four of the last five games, while Loney is 10th in the league at 3.5 per game. Levens is also ranked fifth in the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.5, while Loney is seventh in that category at 1.4.

Levens Repeats as Pac-10 Player of the WeekSenior guard Amanda Levens was named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week on two consecutive weeks (Dec. 10 and 17) after leading ASU to four straight victories. She became the first Sun Devil to ever earn back-to-back selections and the first to earn two conference player-of-the-week honors in a season since Ryneldi Becenti in 1992-93. The Player-of-the-Week honors were the second and third of Levens' career and the 19th and 20th all-time selections for Arizona State.

StreakingASU's seven-game winning streak, which was snapped with a Dec. 23 loss to the sixth-ranked Stanford Cardinal, was the longest for the Sun Devils since the team won seven consecutive Pac-10 games last year from Jan. 13 to Feb. 8. The 1991-92 team holds the school record for consecutive victories, opening the season with nine straight victories.

Not Shying Away From AnyoneWhen ASU takes on Joan Bonvicini and the Arizona Wildcats Sunday afternoon, the Sun Devils will be facing the sixth team this season led by a coach who ranks among the 25 all-time winningest coaches in NCAA women's basketball history. Bonvicini is 18th in all-time wins. ASU has played teams coached by 12 of the top 25 coaches over the last five seasons, while in the past three seasons alone, ASU has played all five of the winningest women's basketball coaches in NCAA history.

ASU has already played five of the all-time winningest coaches so far this year, coming up with wins in all but one game: Stanford's Tara VanDerveer (17th), Northern Illinois' Carol Hammerle (22nd), Kansas' Marian Washington (16th), Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer (3rd) and Mike Granelli of St. Peter's (10th).

Quick Hits

- After shooting just 24 percent from three-point land in the first 11 games of the year, sophomore Betsy Boardman has shot 66.7 percent in the last two games, going 2-of-3 from beyond the arc in each contest.

- A Pac-10 All-Freshman selection last year, Boardman has averaged 11.5 points per game in the last two, including 10 points vs. Stanford and 12 vs. Cal.

- Senior Cian Carvalho, who has started seven games this year, has also averaged 11 points per game over the last two contests. She hit the first two three-pointers of her career vs. Stanford and matched that effort again with a 2-of-3 outing from beyond the arc vs. California.

- ASU's crowd of 2,419 at the Stanford game on Dec. 23 was the largest home crowd of the year for the Sun Devils. ASU has averaged 1,744 fans per game so far in the Pac-10 season.

- ASU has held its last five opponents to just 23.7 percent shooting from three-point range (9-38), including an 0-for-6 effort by NIU. Stanford came into the Dec. 23 game as the Pac-10's best shooters from three-point land at 40.6 percent but knocked down just 33.3 percent of its attempts from beyond the arc (3-9).

- After shooting just 36.8 percent from the field in its first four games (87-236), ASU has shot 44.7 percent in the last nine (214-479). From three-point land, ASU has improved from 24.4 percent (10-41) in its first four games to 37.2 in the last nine (41-110). Since the first Pac-10 statistics of the year were released two weeks ago, ASU has improved from sixth to fourth in field goal percentage and from 10th to fourth in three-point shooting.

- The Sun Devils have turned in six of their best nine shooting performances in the last six games, including a season-high 55.8 percent (29-52) in their victory at Chicago State. The team's shooting performance at Chicago State was the best since ASU shot 61.1 percent (33-54) in a Dec. 3, 1999 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

- Senior Melody Johnson continues to lead Arizona State in career field goal percentage, converting on 55.1 percent of her attempts (228-414). This year, the Colorado Springs, Colo., native ranks eighth in the Pac-10 in the category, knocking down 50.9 percent of her attempts from the field (56-110), including a perfect 7-for-7 effort Dec. 13 at Chicago State.

- The Sun Devils play 11 players this year with nine of the Sun Devils averaging at least 10 minutes per game, while sophomore Jen Albert is just shy of the 10-minute mark at 9.6 minutes per game. Senior Amanda Levens is leading the team in minutes played at 28.4 per game, while true freshman point guard Kylan Loney is second at 26.3.

- ASU emerged from the non-conference slate with nine victories for the first time since the 1991-92 season.

- While the Sun Devils have gotten to the free throw line 363 times in 13 games (27.9 times per game and 87 more times than any other Pac-10 school), the team has struggled a bit at the charity stripe, knocking down just 60.6 percent of its attempts (220-363). ASU has shot below 60 percent from the free throw line six times this year and in each of its first two Pac-10 games, including a season-low 53.1 percent (17-32) Dec. 23 vs. Stanford.

- Senior Amanda Levens has already been to the free throw line 107 times this year and has knocked down 76.6 percent of her attempts (82-107). Last year, Levens set school single-season marks for free throws (146) and was second in attempts (183) and is on pace to eclipse those marks in 2001-02.

- ASU's bench has averaged 20.3 points per game over the last nine contests (183 points), including a season-high 27 points at Chicago State on Dec. 13. ASU's bench has had 20 or more points in five games this year, and the Sun Devils are 9-2 on the year when outscoring their opponents' bench.

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