Women's Basketball to Play No. 9 Notre Dame in Saturday's AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II

Dec. 4, 2002

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Coming off an upset of 14th-ranked Georgia on Monday night and off to their best start in 11 years, the Arizona State Sun Devils return to action this weekend, playing host to the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II Saturday, Dec. 7 at Wells Fargo Arena. The 2002 Pac-10 Tournament champion Sun Devils will take on No. 9/9 Notre Dame at 12 p.m. followed by No. 6/6 Purdue vs. No. 8/8 Vanderbilt at 2:30 p.m. in the doubleheader which is a fundraiser for the Phoenix affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Arizona State is off to a 5-0 start, the best start in Charli Turner Thorne's tenure at ASU as well as the best start since the 1991-92 team won its first nine games. The Sun Devils have also won a school-record 13 straight home games, a streak which dates back to the last eight home games of last season. Notre Dame, the 2001 NCAA Champion, boasts a 2-0 record (with a game at Valparaiso on Dec. 4) heading into Saturday's game with Arizona State, while No. 6/6 Purdue (5-0) and No. 8/8 Vanderbilt (4-0) each bring undefeated records into this weekend's doubleheader as well.

ExposureFox Sports Net will televise Arizona State's game with Notre Dame to a national cable audience with Barry Tompkins and Tammy Blackburn calling the action. ASU is 1-0 when playing on live television this year, including Monday night's win over 14th-ranked Georgia which was televised locally on AZ-TV. ASU's flagship radio station, KUET 710 AM, will broadcast all of ASU's games this season with Vince Marotta calling the action.

Home-Court AdvantageASU's upset of 14th-ranked Georgia on Monday night marked ASU's 13th straight home victory, which sets the school record for consecutive home wins. ASU's current 13-game home winning streak includes the team's last eight Pac-10 home contests last year and its first five games of the 2002-03 season. The previous school record for consecutive home victories was 13, accomplished over the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons. ASU, which plays its first seven games of the 2002-03 season at home, has turned in a 40-8 record at Wells Fargo Arena in the last three seasons.

Good StartWith ASU's win over Georgia, ASU has now turned in a 5-0 record to open the season for the first time since the 1991-92 season. That 1991-92 team turned in the best start in school history, winning its first nine contests. This year marked the fifth straight season that ASU has opened the year with back-to-back wins, a streak dating back to 1998-99.

The CauseProceeds from the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II will benefit breast cancer research, treatment and education in the Valley of the Sun with the donation going to the Phoenix affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. In 2002, the Phoenix affiliate granted more than $925,000 to breast health research, education, screening and treatment programs in the nine northern Arizona counties as well as to the national research fund. Proceeds from the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II will support the 2003 Grants Program.

Educational information will be available at the game to raise awareness about breast cancer, a disease which will strike one in eight women in their lifetimes if they live past the age of 85. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and is second only to lung cancer in cancer deaths. An estimated 203,500 new invasive cases of breast cancer are expected to occur among women in the United States in 2002, and an estimated 39,600 women will die from breast cancer this year.

The SupportAstraZeneca, a maker of breast cancer therapies, is the title sponsor for the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II which is designed to raise awareness of breast cancer, the most common type of cancer among women. The supporting sponsors include AstraZeneca, APS, St. Joseph's Hospital, the Wrigley Foundation, Motorola, Steve Grotsky and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. An honorary executive committee of community leaders throughout the nation and a staff of committed volunteers have pledged their time and support to this event over the last six months and longer. A significant number of Arizona youth have also been given the opportunity to attend the doubleheader thanks to the generous donations and support of many corporations and individuals.

Attendance RecordsOne of ASU's goals for the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II is to turn in the first sell-out in the history of Arizona State women's basketball. The program is well on the way to that goal and should shatter ASU's single-game attendance record for Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday. That record is 5,379 set vs. Arizona on Jan. 27, 2001. ASU's overall single-game attendance mark was set at the first AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic when 16,728 fans attended ASU's game vs. Tennessee at Bank One Ballpark. The Tennessee game also set the Pac-10 Conference single-game record for all games.

The Last TimeIn the inaugural AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic, held Dec. 27, 2000 at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix, Arizona State fell to six-time national champion Tennessee 67-63. That night, Arizona State set the school and Pac-10 single-game attendance records with 16,782 fans in attendance at the first ever outdoor women's basketball game. The Sun Devils also raised $10,000 for breast cancer research, treatment and education in the Valley of the Sun in the first event.

In the Series with Notre DameASU holds a 1-0 advantage in the series with Notre Dame, winning the only matchup between the two teams with an 82-57 victory in Tempe on Jan. 27, 1983. The Sun Devils also hold a 6-2 all-time record vs. teams from the Big East Conference, most recently downing Rutgers 59-56 in the championship game of last year's Wells Fargo Holiday Classic on Dec. 2, 2001.

In the RankingsThis weekend's AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II brings some of the best teams in women's college basketball to the Valley with the three visiting programs each ranked in the national top 9 heading into the weekend. ASU's opponent, Notre Dame, is ranked ninth in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches polls, while Purdue is ranked sixth in both polls and Vanderbilt is eighth in each. Arizona State, which has been ranked in each of the last two seasons, is receiving votes in each of the national polls (nine votes to rank 34th in the AP poll, 24 votes to rank 32nd in the USA Today poll).

Last Time OutFreshman guard Jill Noe scored a career-best 20 points, including 12-of-13 free throws, and pulled down seven rebounds to lead ASU to a 74-70 upset of No. 14 Georgia on Monday night. The Lady Bulldogs, who were ranked eighth last week, were beaten for the second time in three nights after falling to Arizona 70-49 on Saturday.

Sophomore Kylan Loney had 13 points and freshman Amy Denson added 10 points and seven rebounds as the Sun Devils won a school-record 13th consecutive home game, a winning streak dating back to the last eight home games last year. ASU had previously won 12 straight over the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons.

Christi Thomas had 21 points and 15 rebounds for Georgia, while Kara Braxton had 19 points and Alexis Kendrick added 11, but both fouled out playing catch-up.

The game stayed close in the first half with five ties and both teams leading by as many as four points at one time. Loney hit a pair of three-pointers late in the first half to erase a three-point Georgia lead and give the Sun Devils a three-point advantage of their own with 2:28 to play in the half, but the Lady Bulldogs scored the next three points to tie the game at 35 at halftime. Loney had nine points to lead the Sun Devils in the first half, knocking down three treys, while Thomas and Braxton had 15 and 11 points, respectively, in the first 20 minutes.

No more than four points separated the teams until Denson made a 16-footer with 10:13 remaining that made it 53-47. It was part of a 19-4 run that lasted 13:16 and was capped by freshman Kristen Kovesdy's free throw that gave Arizona State the 11-point 58-47 lead with 5:18 to play.

The Lady Bulldogs cut the deficit to 69-67 with 59 seconds on a three-pointer by Alexis Kendrick, but Noe tipped a Georgia pass to Loney with 30 seconds left, and Loney made two free throws. Kendrick buried another three-pointer with 21 seconds to go but fouled out on the next play, and Loney secured the 74-70 win with two more free throws.

Young GunsASU's true freshmen made big contributions so far this year with three of the highly touted rookies leading ASU in scoring. The trio also ranks in the four top in rebounding through ASU's first five games. Freshman guard Jill Noe is leading the team in scoring at 13.0 points per game, including a career-best 20 points vs. No. 14 Georgia, and has knocked down 46.2 percent of her three-point attempts (6-13). Freshman forward Kristen Kovesdy is second on the team in scoring at 11.8 points per game and leads the Sun Devils and the Pac-10 Conference in field goal percentage at 73.1 percent (19-26). Freshmen forward Amy Denson paces the squad in rebounding at 6.6 boards per game and checks in at third in scoring with 11.6 points per contest. Noe and Kovesdy are also second and fourth on the team in that rebounding at 5.2 and 5.0 boards per game, respectively.

ASU had a true freshman turn in her first career double-double in each of the team's first three games. Noe led the Sun Devils with a double-double in their season-opening victory over Chicago State with 17 points and 10 rebounds, Kovesdy matched the feat with a double-double of her own with 19 points, on 7-of-7 shooting, and 10 rebounds off the bench vs. Northern Illinois, and Denson turned in 12 points and 14 rebounds in ASU's victory over Portland State in the first round of the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic.

Offensive FirepowerAfter leading the Pac-10 in most defensive categories in the last two years, this year's Sun Devils have also shown a little offensive firepower so far this year. In ASU's five regular-season games, the team is averaging 75.8 points per game, including 82 in their season-opening win over Chicago State on Nov. 22. The team is also shooting 45.1 percent from the field (130-288) and 42.1 percent from three-point land (24-57).

Second-Half SurgesThis year's Sun Devils have shown the ability to kick things up a notch in the second half, outscoring their opponents 201-154 over the final 20 minutes this year. ASU has also shot 48.5 percent from the field in the second half this year (66-136), including a 61.5 percent outing vs. Chicago State (16-26) and a 51.5 percent effort vs. Portland State (17-33). Comparatively, the Sun Devils have outscored their opponents just 178-159 and shot just 42.1 percent from the field (64-152) in the first halves of games this year.

ASU has been tied at halftime in two of its last three games (tied at 30 with Portland State and tied at 35 with No. 14 Georgia) and has outscored those two opponents 81-58 in the second half to win those two games.

Quick Notes

- Arizona State (5-0) and Stanford (4-0) are the two remaining undefeated teams in the Pac-10 heading into this weekend.

- Sophomore guard Carrie Buckner is leading the team with 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game this year (12 steals). She is also fourth on the team in scoring at 10.2 ppg, is shooting 47.6 percent from the field (20-42) and has blocked two shots.

- Freshman Kristen Kovesdy is leading the team and the Pac-10 in field goal percentage at 73.1 percent (19-26). Kovesdy knocked down her first 16 attempts of the season, including a perfect 7-of-7 performance in ASU's season-opening win over Chicago State, 4-of-4 vs. Northern Illinois and her first five shots vs. Portland State. Kovesdy did not miss her first shot until the 11:59 mark of the second half in that game vs. Portland State, ASU's third game of the year.

- Through ASU's first five games, sophomore Kylan Loney has already knocked down 10 three-pointers and is shooting 58.8 percent from beyond the arc (10-18). Last year, the honorable-mention Pac-10 All-Freshman honoree connected on a total of 14 three-pointers all season.

- As a team, ASU is averaging 11.8 steals per game, including a season-high 20 in the team's win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic and 10 in its upset of 14th-ranked Georgia on Monday.

- The Sun Devil bench has outscored their opponents' reserves in all five games this year and is averaging 26.0 points per game (130 points). Freshman Kristen Kovesdy is the leading scorer off the bench and is second on the team in scoring at 11.8 points per game. She has come off the bench to lead the team in scoring in two games this year.

- Arizona State has already made 138 trips to the free throw line this season (27.6 attempts per game) compared to just 71 attempts for their opponents. The Sun Devils have knocked 68.8 percent of those attempts (95-138) on the year.

- Sophomore guard Kylan Loney earned tournament MVP honors as the Sun Devils won their second straight Wells Fargo Holiday Classic title. Joining Loney on the all-tournament team for the Sun Devils were junior Jen Albert and freshman Amy Denson.

- This year, Arizona State returns just one starter and six letterwinners from its 2001-02 Pac-10 Tournament Championship and NCAA Tournament squad (with the losses of junior and two-year starter Betsy Boardman and sophomore forward Alexis Tate to season-ending knee injuries) but has added a recruiting class of five freshmen and one junior college transfer which was ranked in the top 25 in the nation by Blue Star. The 2002-03 Sun Devil active roster is a young one featuring a junior college transfer, three sophomores and six freshmen.

Rainy Crisp Regains a Year of EligibilityIn Monday night's upset of 14th-ranked Georgia, the Sun Devils regained the services of senior guard Rainy Crisp who sat out the first four regular-season games of the season. Crisp, who is the lone senior on this year's young Sun Devil team, has regained an additional year after a successful appeal to the NCAA eligibility committee. Crisp had a successful outing in her first game back with four points, on 2-of-3 shooting, two assists and two steals in 12 minutes of action vs. the Lady Bulldogs.

In her three years at ASU after transferring from New Mexico State, Crisp played in 86 games and helped ASU to two of the most successful seasons in school history. Last year, she averaged 2.2 points and 2.0 assists per game and turned in 30 steals in helping the Sun Devils to a school-record 25 victories.

Sun Devils Suffer Second Season-Ending Knee InjurySophomore forward Alexis Tate will miss the 2002-03 season with a major knee injury, the second season-ending knee injury of the year for the Sun Devils who lost their top returning scorer and rebounder, junior guard/forward Betsy Boardman, to an ACL tear on October 13.

Tate, a 6-4 forward from Escondido, Calif., tore the meniscus in her left knee and also has a stretched anterior cruciate ligament. She will have surgery to repair both the meniscus and the ACL. Tate played in 26 games for the Sun Devils last year as a true freshman but was limited to an average of 4.8 minutes per game by a number of injuries throughout the season. She did, however, show an ability to make a huge impact in her limited minutes, averaging 1.3 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. Coming out of high school, Tate attended the 2000 Nike All-American Camp and was ranked 60th in the country by Blue Star before missing her senior season with an ACL tear suffered in a summer tournament.

Boardman tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during ASU's second practice of the season. Boardman, who started all 65 games over her first two years, was Arizona State's top returning scorer and rebounder from one season ago. A two-time invitee to the USA Basketball Junior National Team Trials, she had led the team in steals in each of the last two years. Boardman averaged 10.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game and shot 35.6 percent from three-point land (73-205) in her first two seasons.

Turner Thorne Second in All-Time Wins at ASUWith a 95-86 record in her six-plus years 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 last year, 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 mark in eight years (1979-87).

Since 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. In 2000-01, 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, while her 2001-02 squad tied the school mark for single-season wins with a 25-9 record. 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 six seasons and guided ASU to five consecutive double-digit win seasons.

ASU Picked Sixth in Preseason Pac-10 PollsArizona State has been picked to finish sixth in the Pac-10 Conference by both the media and the league's coaches. Last year, ASU was picked to finish second by the media and fourth by the coaches and ended up tied for second (and won the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament), while in the 2000-01 season, ASU was tabbed fifth by the coaches and sixth by the media 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 Postseason TournamentThe Pac-10 Conference plays its second annual State Farm Women's Basketball Tournament March 7-10, 2002, HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. Arizona State won the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament last year, upsetting second-ranked Stanford in the event, which was held at McArthur Court in Eugene, Ore. A total of nine games will be played in the Pac-10 Tournament with the champion earning the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

A Look Back at the 2001-02 SeasonThe 2001-02 Sun Devils turned in one of the most successful seasons in school history, tying the school mark for wins in a single season with a 25-9 overall record and earning the Sun Devils' second straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Arizona State earned the Pac-10 Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by upsetting second-ranked Stanford in the championship game of the inaugural Pac-10 Conference Women's Basketball Tournament. ASU downed Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to capture the team's first postseason win in 19 years and tie the 1981-82 NCAA Sweet Sixteen squad (25-7) for the most victories in a season. The Sun Devils also turned in their first back-to-back 20-win seasons and NCAA Tournament appearances since 1981-82 and 1982-83, while the team tied the school record for conference wins with a 12-6 Pac-10 mark which put them into a tie for second in the league.

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