No. 23 Women's Hoops to Take Three-Game Winning Streak to UCLA, USC.
Jan. 14, 2002
TEMPE, Ariz. -
Coming off a home sweep of Washington and Washington State last weekend, the Arizona State Sun Devils embark on a grueling four-game road stretch that starts at UCLA on Thursday night and at USC on Saturday afternoon. Winners of their last three games, five of their last six and 12 of their last 14 games, the Sun Devils made a return to this week's Associated Press poll at 23rd and are now 14-4 on the year and 5-2 in the Pac-10, which puts them into a tie for second place in the league with USC.
ASU looks to add onto two-game winning streaks over both UCLA and USC as the team heads to Los Angeles after sweeping both schools for the first time in school history last year. A win over either school would give ASU its longest all-time winning streak in either series. UCLA comes into Thursday night's game at 5-10 overall and 2-5 in the Pac-10 after a 67-57 home loss to USC last Sunday, while USC is 9-7 and 5-2 in the league and will play host to Arizona on Thursday night before taking on the Sun Devils.
ExposureASU's flagship station XTRA 910 AM will broadcast both games to the Valley of the Sun with Vince Marotta calling the action. The broadcasts are also available via the ASU official athletics web site (www.thesundevils.com).
In the PollsArizona State returned to the national rankings this week, checking in at 23rd in the Jan. 14 Associated Press poll after a seven-week hiatus. ASU was ranked in the first three polls of the year, climbing as high as 21st, but dropped out after back-to-back losses in November. The Sun Devils continue to receive votes in the USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll (34th). UCLA is unranked, while USC has received votes in both polls this year.
Road WarriorsCounting this weekend's trip to Los Angeles, Arizona State will play its next four games on the road and is in the middle of a stretch that will see the team play six of eight contests on the road. The Sun Devils are 3-1 in road games this season, winning at Chicago State and Northern Illinois in December and splitting a pair at Oregon State (loss) and Oregon (win). Last year, ASU finished the season with a 7-5 road record, including a 5-4 mark in Pac-10 play, which marked the most road wins since the 1992-93 squad turned in the same record.
Playing back-to-back road series is not new to the Sun Devils, who have done it in each of the last four seasons, but in each of those years, one of the road trips has been to Tucson to take on Arizona. Arizona State has not played four straight Pac-10 road games since the 1994-95 season when the team dropped four straight in trips to Washington and Washington State and Stanford and Cal.
At Their Current Pace...With a 14-4 record through 18 games, the Sun Devils are two games ahead of the pace of last year's 20-11 Pac-10 Championship squad. Last year, ASU was 12-6 through their first 18 games. ASU's 14 wins are the most in the fewest games for the program since the 1982-83 NCAA Sweet Sixteen team opened the year 14-4.
At 5-2 in the Pac-10, ASU has matched the pace of last year's team which opened the conference slate with a 1-2 record but went on to win its next seven Pac-10 contests to improve to 8-2 through its first 10 league games.
Turner Thorne Second in All-Time Wins at ASUWith a 79-81 record at ASU, head coach Charli Turner Thorne has moved into sole possession of second place in all-time wins by a Sun Devil women's basketball coach. With ASU's victory over Arizona on Dec. 30, the 2001 Pac-10 Coach of the Year passed Maura McHugh who turned in a 75-65 record in her six seasons at the helm (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 OutSophomore Betsy Boardman scored a game-high 16 points to lead Arizona State to a 68-40 victory over Washington State Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena. It was the third consecutive win for the Sun Devils and the team's ninth straight over the Cougars, a winning streak dating back to the 1997-98 season.
Playing without their leading scorer, senior Amanda Levens, who missed the first game of her ASU career with a sprained ankle, the Sun Devils jumped ahead early, taking a 23-8 lead with 9:05 to play in the first half. Freshman guard Kylan Loney contributed seven of her career-high tying nine points in the first eight minutes of the ball game. WSU cut the lead to 10 with a three-pointer by freshman Francine McCurtain, a native of Chinle, Ariz., to make it 23-13 with 7:32 left in the half, but ASU finished the half on a 10-2 run and took a 33-15 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, WSU never got closer than 17 points, while Boardman scored nine of her 16 points in the final 20 minutes en route to the 68-40 victory.
Boardman led a balanced ASU scoring attack with 16, while senior Cian Carvalho, who was limited to just 19 minutes because of the flu, had 11 points. Three other Sun Devils - senior Melody Johnson, Loney and freshman Carrie Buckner - each turned in nine points, while Loney also had a career-high four steals. In her first career start, senior Rainy Crisp turned in five assists, four rebounds and three steals, while Buckner led the Sun Devils with seven rebounds and added three steals.
For WSU, three Cougars scored in double figures led by sophomore Candace Field who had 12 points. Senior Brittney Hawks had 11 points and eight rebounds, while McCurtain finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Levens Lighting Up the ScoreboardDespite missing the first game of her career with a sprained ankle last weekend vs. Washington State, senior guard Amanda Levens has moved into first in the Pac-10 and 21st in the nation in scoring at 20.2 points per game. Levens, already the winner of two Pac-10 Player-of-the-Week honors this season, has scored 20 points or more on 10 occasions this season, including a game-high 20 points against Washington on Jan. 10. She has led the team in scoring in 15 of 18 games this year and has topped the 20-point mark in seven of her last nine games, averaging 22.2 ppg in that stretch (200 points).
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 30 of 49 games and has had 17 efforts with 20 points or more. With 343 points this year, she needs just 127 to match the 470 she had all of last year.
Winning the Battle of the BoardsASU has outrebounded all but two of its opponents this season and holds a 14-2 record in those games. Stanford and Oregon State have been the only teams to outrebound the Sun Devils this year. The Sun Devils are averaging 38.6 rebounds per game compared to a Pac-10 low 32.1 for their opponents, including a season-low 23 by both Rutgers and Oregon. In its last three games, ASU has outrebounded its opponent by an average of 13.0 boards and held the three teams to just 28.3 rebounds per game. ASU led the Pac-10 in rebounding defense last year, holding its opponents to just 33.5 boards per contest.
Balanced AttackArizona State has averaged 75.4 points per game over the last five games, up from the team's season average of 69.4. In Pac-10 play, the Sun Devils are averaging 72.3 points per contest. That increase can be attributed to the fact that four Sun Devils are scoring in double figures in Pac-10 play, led by senior Amanda Levens who is averaging 20.8 ppg in the Pac-10 and sophomore Betsy Boardman who is averaging 13.0 points per game in conference action.
Defending the ThreeThe Sun Devils are leading the league in three-point field goal defense, allowing their opponents to shoot just 30.4 percent from beyond the arc (48-158). Although they finished ninth in the category last year, ASU led the league in three-point defense in 1998-99 and 1999-00.
ASU has held its last nine opponents to just 23.7 percent shooting from three-point range (23-97), including a 1-for-7 effort by Oregon State on Jan. 4. ASU has kept its last five opponents under 30 percent from beyond the arc.
About UCLA & USCUCLA is 5-10 and 2-5 in the Pac-10 after falling to USC 67-57 at Pauley Pavilion last Sunday. The Bruins have lost nine of their last 11 games but have won two Pac-10 games, earning road victories at California and Washington State, despite losing their two top scorers, Michelle Greco (repeated concussions) and Kristee Porter (professional volleyball). Junior guard Natalie Nakase is leading the team in scoring (8.3 ppg) and assists (5.3 apg), while senior center Malika Leatham is pacing the squad in rebounding at 6.5 boards per game.
After opening the Pac-10 with a 3-0 record, USC has been up and down as of late with a 2-2 record over the last four games, including a 67-57 win at UCLA on Sunday. The Women of Troy are 9-7 overall and 5-2 in the Pac-10 and will play host to Arizona on Thursday night. Four Trojans are averaging in double figures for scoring, led by sophomore guard Aisha Hollans at 18.3 points per game (third in the Pac-10). Sophomore forward Ebony Hoffman is ranked third in the league in rebounding (8.7 rpg) and is second on the team in scoring (14.2 ppg). As a team, USC is third in the Pac-10 in scoring (74.0 ppg) and second in rebounding (42.9 rpg).
In the SeriesUCLA holds a commanding 35-11 advantage in the series with the Sun Devils, while ASU has won the last two games in the series. Last year, ASU snapped a six-game losing streak to the Bruins with their first ever series sweep over UCLA, downing the Bruins 78-68 in Los Angeles on Jan. 18 and earning a 78-60 victory in Tempe on Feb. 17. The Sun Devils' win at Pauley Pavilion last year snapped an eight-road losing streak to the Bruins, while ASU would have its longest winning streak over UCLA in school history with a victory on Thursday night.
The Sun Devils could also notch their longest winning streak over USC with a victory this weekend. The Women of Troy lead the series with the Sun Devils 40-7, but ASU swept the series for the first time in school history last year with a 66-59 win in Los Angeles on Jan. 20 and a wild 67-65 victory in Tempe on Feb. 15. The Sun Devils have won the last two games and four of the last five in the series with USC.
Last year marked first road sweep of the LA schools in ASU school history and just the third season in 26 years of Sun Devil women's basketball that ASU has recorded wins over both storied programs in the same season.
Southern California ConnectionsThree members of the Sun Devil program have ties to southern California, including senior Leah Combs and freshman Alexis Tate. Combs 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.
Tate comes to ASU from Rancho Bernardo High School in Escondido, Calif., where she was a four-time team captain and three-year team MVP despite missing her senior year with an ACL tear. Ranked 60th in the Blue Star Index of the top 100 high school seniors heading into her senior year, Tate also earned two letters in track and field, anchoring her team's 4x400 meter relay team in the state tournament as a junior and winning a league title in the high jump as a senior.
Head coach Charli Turner Thorne graduated from Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills, Calif., in 1984. Turner Thorne was also a graduate assistant at Washington under 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 to go to USC.
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 1,115 points in her career (302 points at ODU, 813 at ASU), while Johnson has now scored 1,112 points in her career. Johnson had 440 points in her two seasons at Colorado and has 672 so far at ASU, while the Colorado Springs, Colo., native has also topped the 500-board mark and has 527 career rebounds (199 at Colorado, 328 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 since Olivia Jones (1980-83) to do it in just two seasons. Levens needs 187 more points, while Johnson needs 318 to accomplish that feat.
Amanda From Beyond the ArcSenior guard Amanda Levens has shot 43.8 percent from three-point land (32-73) over her past 13 games, including a career-best 6-of-9 performance in ASU's win over Kansas Dec. 5 and a 4-of-9 effort Jan. 10 vs. Washington. She has knocked down a team-best 37 treys and is shooting 41.6 percent from beyond the arc (37-89), which ranks seventh in the league. 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 11 games this year including four vs. Washington.
Levens has moved into third place on ASU's career list with 97 three-pointers in her career and needs just three more to become just the third Sun Devil in school history to hit 100 treys in her career. Levens needs 19 three-pointers to tie with Molly Tuter (1994-97) for second all time at116, while Crystal Cobb (1989-94) holds the ASU school record with 134 three-pointers in her career.
Kicking It Up a NotchPortland, Ore., native Betsy Boardman has kicked it up a notch in Pac-10 play, averaging 13.0 points per game, up from her overall scoring average of 8.8 ppg. She is also shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc in league action.
A Pac-10 All-Freshman selection last year, Boardman has scored in double figures in six of the last seven games, including a season-high 17 points at Oregon on Jan. 6 and a game-high 16 vs. Washington State on Jan. 12. After shooting just 24 percent from three-point land in the first 11 games of the year, Boardman has shot 50.0 percent from beyond the arc in the last seven games (13-26).
Scoring DefenseAfter leading the Pac-10 in scoring defense last year (61.5 ppg), ASU has continued its stingy ways in 2001-02, pacing the league again at just 58.3 points allowed per game.
ASU has held five teams under 50 points, a season-low of 40 points by Fordham Dec. 1 and again by Washington State Jan. 12, which is the fewest points allowed since downing South Florida 74-39 on Nov. 19 of last year. The Sun Devils also set a school record by holding Chicago State to just nine points in the first half of its 83-43 victory Dec. 13, while Washington State had just 15 points in the first half in ASU's 68-40 win on Jan. 12.
Dishing It OutASU's starting backcourt of senior Amanda Levens and true freshman Kylan Loney is averaging 8.4 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. Levens and Loney rank just behind Oregon State's Leilani Estavan and Ericka Cook (8.6 assists per game) as the top duo in the conference this year. At 4.8 assists per game, Levens ranks fifth in the Pac-10 in the category. She has led the team in the category in eight of her last nine games, including a career-high nine assists at Oregon State on Jan. 4 and a game-high five vs. Washington on Jan. 10, while Loney is just shy of the top 10 in the league at 3.3 per game. Loney is fifth in the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.45, while Levens is sixth at 1.47.
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 ASU.
- Arizona State held Washington State to several defensive season lows in their 68-40 win last weekend, including scoring (40), field goals (15) and field goal percentage (31.3 percent).
- The Sun Devils rank in the top three in the league in five defensive categories this year, including scoring defense (2nd), rebounding defense (1st), three-point defense (1st), scoring margin (2nd) and rebounding margin (3rd).
- Senior Rainy Crisp, who made her first career start vs. Washington State last weekend, has the best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team this year, dishing out 45 assists to just 15 turnovers on the season (3.0).
- Senior Cian Carvalho has shot 60 percent from beyond the arc in Pac-10 play, knocking down 9-of-15 attempts. She hit the first two three-pointers of her career vs. Stanford and has had at least one three-pointer in six of seven Pac-10 games.
- After shooting just 36.8 percent from the field in its first four games (87-236), ASU has shot 44.9 percent in the last 14 (343-764). From three-point land, ASU has improved from 24.4 percent (10-41) in its first four games to 38.7 in the last 14 (70-181).
- Since the first Pac-10 statistics of the year were released five weeks ago, ASU has climbed from sixth to third in field goal percentage and from 10th to second in three-point shooting.
- Senior Melody Johnson turned in her second double-double of the year and the seventh of her career with 14 points and a career-high 12 rebounds vs. Arizona Dec. 30. She turned in her first double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds vs. Richmond on Nov. 26 to earn Paradise Jam MVP honors.
- Johnson continues to lead Arizona State in career field goal percentage, converting on 55.4 percent of her attempts (255-460). This year, the Colorado Springs, Colo., native ranks third in the Pac-10 in the category, knocking down 53.2 percent of her attempts from the field (83-156), including a perfect 7-for-7 effort Dec. 13 at Chicago State and an 8-of-9 outing Jan. 6 at Oregon.
- The Sun Devil rotation includes 11 players this year with nine averaging at least 10 minutes per game and freshman Lauren Stagg just shy of the 10-minute mark at 9.8 minutes per game, respectively. Senior Amanda Levens is leading the team in minutes played at 28.8 per game, while true freshman point guard Kylan Loney is second at 26.3.
- The Sun Devils have already defeated both Oregon and Washington this season, marking the first time since 1992-93 that ASU has downed both schools in a single season. That year, ASU swept both meetings with both schools. ASU's 86-72 victory at Oregon's McArthur Court on Jan. 6 snapped an eight-game road losing streak against the Ducks and was the first for ASU since the 1992-93 season.
- The Sun Devils' 87-point effort vs. Arizona on Dec. 30 marked the most for the Sun Devils since the team scored 96 in a 96-52 win over Gonzaga on Dec. 5, 1998, a span of 96 games.
- While the Sun Devils have gotten to the free throw line 490 times in 18 games (27.2 times per game and 111 more times than any other Pac-10 school), the team has struggled a bit at the charity stripe, knocking down 63.3 percent of its attempts (310-490). ASU has shot below 60 percent from the line seven times this year, including a season-low 53.1 percent (17-32) Dec. 23 vs. Stanford and 53.8 percent (14-26) vs. Washington State last weekend.
- Senior Amanda Levens has already been to the free throw line 133 times this year and has knocked down 78.2 percent of her attempts, which ranks seventh in the Pac-10 (104-133). 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 20.2 points per game over the last 13 contests (263 points), including a season-high 27 points at Chicago State on Dec. 13. ASU's bench has had 20 or more points in six games this year, including 23 vs. Washington State last weekend, and the Sun Devils are 11-2 on the year when outscoring their opponents' bench.
- ASU's seven-game winning streak, which was snapped with a Dec. 23 loss to then No. 6 Stanford, was the longest for the Sun Devils since the team won seven consecutive Pac-10 games last year from Jan. 13 to Feb. 8.
- ASU's 86-72 victory at Oregon on Jan. 6 snapped an eight-game road losing streak at McArthur Court and was the team's first victory in Eugene since the 1992-93 season.
- ASU emerged from the non-conference slate with nine victories for the first time since the 1991-92 season.
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
Not Shying Away From AnyoneSo far this season, ASU has faced six coaches ranked among the 25 all-time winningest coaches in NCAA women's basketball history and come up with wins in five of the games: Arizona's Joan Bonvicini (18th), 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). 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 NCAA's winningest coaches.
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 team also earned the team's first postseason appearance in eight seasons, falling at Colorado State in the first round of the 2000 WNIT.