Women's Basketball to Open Pac-10 Play at Stanford on Friday

Dec. 23, 2002

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Coming off last week's pair of victories at Kent State and Akron and on a three-game winning streak, the Arizona State Sun Devils head to the Bay Area to open Pac-10 Conference play at fifth-ranked Stanford and Cal. Arizona State is looking to win its first Pac-10 opener since the 1999-00 season and will wrap up a four-game road trip that began last week in Ohio. The Sun Devils finished the non-conference slate with an 8-1 record, which marks the best start to the season since the 1991-92 team turned in a 9-0 record. Friday night's game at Stanford, which will be televised nationally by Fox Sports Net, is a rematch of last year's Pac-10 Tournament championship game, which the Sun Devils won 70-63 to take home the inaugural league tournament title. Stanford is 6-1 on the season with the Cardinal's only loss coming at Tennessee. Cal brings a 3-4 record into Sunday's game and has dropped its last two games to Colorado and St. Mary's.

ASU in Pac-10 OpenersArizona State holds a 2-14 all-time record in Pac-10 Conference openers since joining the league in 1986-87. This year will mark the fourth straight year that the Sun Devils have opened Pac-10 play with Stanford with the Cardinal coming away with victories in each of the last two Pac-10 openers and three of the four. ASU won its last Pac-10 season opener to begin the 1999-00 campaign when the Sun Devils downed Stanford 74-68 in Tempe on Jan. 6, 2000.

In the Series with Stanford & CalStanford holds a 33-9 advantage in the all-time series with Arizona State, including a 20-1 advantage in games played in Palo Alto. The Cardinal earned victories in both regular-season meetings last year en route to the team's perfect 18-0 Pac-10 mark, but Arizona State won the last matchup between the two teams, downing the then second-ranked Stanford Cardinal 70-63 on March 4 in Eugene, Ore., to win the inaugural Pac-10 Conference Women's Basketball Tournament. That win snapped five-game losing streak to the Cardinal. Arizona State's lone victory at Stanford came during the 1983-84 season when the Sun Devils came away from Palo Alto with an 84-72 victory on March 3, 1984.

California holds a 20-17 edge in the series with Arizona State, but the Sun Devils have gotten the best of the series in recent years, winning the last four meetings and five of the last six. Last season, Arizona State got its first Pac-10 win of the year with a 63-49 victory over the Golden Bears on Dec. 23, 2001 in Tempe and earned its second straight season sweep over Cal with a 56-40 win on Jan. 24, 2002 in Berkeley.

Stanford ConnectionsArizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne was a four-year letterwinner at Stanford, playing for Cardinal head coach Tara Van Derveer in her last three seasons. Turner Thorne was twice voted the Most Inspirational Player by her Cardinal teammates and was co-captain of the 1987-88 NCAA Sweet Sixteen team. She won Stanford's H-Block Award in 1988, which is awarded to the senior female student-athlete with the highest grade point average, and earned her bachelor's degree in psychology that year.

Cal ConnectionsArizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne and assistant coach Laura Hughes have connections to third-year Cal coach Caren Horstmeyer. Turner Thorne was an assistant coach on Horstmeyer's staff at Santa Clara for three seasons from 1990-93 where the Broncos won three straight conference titles, won the 1991 WNIT and advanced to the 1992 NCAA Tournament. Hughes was a two-year starter at power forward at Santa Clara, helping the Broncos to a 28-3 record and the WNIT title in 1990-91 and an NCAA Tournament berth the following year. That 1990-91 campaign marked one of the biggest turnarounds in NCAA history with the team winning 28 games, an improvement of 19 from the previous season's 9-17 campaign. Hughes set and still holds school records for single-season and career field goal percentage, knocking down 53.9 percent of her career attempts.

Just Say NoeFreshman Jill Noe was named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Dec. 9-15. Noe, a 5-10 guard from Tualatin, Ore., came within one rebound and one assist of recording the 13th triple-double in Pac-10 history in ASU's 76-53 defeat of Denver on Dec. 9. Noe finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, adding six steals in 26 minutes of play. She shot 7-of-11 (.636) from the field, including a 75.0 percent clip (3-of-4) from 3-point range. Noe also recorded two blocked shots and committed no turnovers as the Sun Devils posted their 14th win in their last 15 games at Wells Fargo Arena. The player of the week honor is the first of Noe's career and the 22nd all-time selection for ASU.

Noe has done it all for the Sun Devils this year, pacing the team in scoring (14.9 ppg), three-point field goal percentage (.472), free throw percentage (.829), assists (3.6 apg) and steals (2.8 spg) and is second on the team in rebounding (5.2 rpg). She ranks second in steals, third in the Pac-10 in free throw shooting, fourth in three-point shooting, tied for fourth in scoring, seventh in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio and 10th in field goal percentage. She has scored in double figures eight times in nine games this year and has paced the team in scoring in six of ASU's nine contests this season, including the last five.

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 nine games, the team is averaging 72.6 points per game which ranks fourth in the Pac-10, including a season-high 82 points twice (last at Akron on Dec. 20). The team also ranks third in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage and second in three-point percentage, shooting 45.0 percent from the field (232-515) and 38.4 percent from three-point land (43-112).

Arizona State also owns the top three shooting performances in the Pac-10 so far this season, knocking down a season-high 59.6 percent (31-52) last week at Akron, 58.8 percent (30-51) of its attempts vs. Denver on Dec. 9 and 58.2 percent (31-53) vs. Chicago State in the team's season-opener on Nov. 22.

Last Time OutFreshmen Jill Noe scored 16 points as Arizona State wrapped up the non-conference season with an 82-46 victory at Akron Dec. 20. ASU led for the whole game, scoring the first six points of the game and building a double-digit lead with 13:23 left in the first half. Sophomore Kylan Loney led all scorers with eight points in the first half, while Noe and fellow freshman Kristen Kovesdy each had six points en route to ASU's 36-21 halftime lead.

The Sun Devils continued to roll in the second half, opening the period with an 18-0 run to build a 54-21 lead with 13:03 left in the game. Akron scored its first field goal of the second half with 12:19 to play but never got closer than 29 points. Arizona State shot 81.0 percent (17-21) and outrebounded Akron 14-6 in the second half en route to the 82-46 victory.

Noe led four Sun Devils in double figures with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting and led the team with five assists and four steals. Loney turned in 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting including a pair of three pointers, while Kovesdy and junior Jen Albert chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Freshman Amy Denson led the team in rebounding with eight boards and added six points on 3-of-4 shooting. Akron's Raegan Johnson led the Zips with 11 points.

Ball TheftsThe Sun Devils are tied for first in the Pac-10 in steals this season, averaging 12.4 steals per game. The team had a season-high 20 steals vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the championship game of the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic on Nov. 30 and 19 in their victory over Denver on Dec. 9. ASU has tallied at last 10 steals in seven of nine games this year. Freshman Jill Noe leads the team and ranks second in the Pac-10 with 2.8 thefts per game, while sophomore Carrie Buckner is 10th in the league with 1.8 steals per game. A total of seven Sun Devils have at least 10 steals on the year.

Young GunsThree of ASU's true freshmen continue to lead the team in scoring with guard Jill Noe first in scoring at 14.9 points and and second in rebounding at 5.2 boards per contest. Noe has led the team in scoring in each of the last five games, including a career-best 20 points vs. No. 14 Georgia, 19 vs. No. 9 Notre Dame, 17 vs. both Denver and Kent State and 16 at Akron. Freshman forwards Amy Denson and Kristen Kovesdy are each tied for first in rebounding (5.9 rpg) and second in scoring (11.6 ppg). Kovesdy also leads the Sun Devils and is third in the Pac-10 Conference in field goal percentage at 65.4 percent (34-52).

ASU had a true freshman turn in her first career double-double in each of the team's first three games, while the rookies have a total of four double-doubles this season. 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. Kovesdy turned in the second double-double of her young career at Kent State on Dec. 18 with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Success at the Charity StripeThis season, the Sun Devils have turned into one of the league's best free throw shooting teams, ranking third in the Pac-10 in the category at 71.6 percent on the year (146-204). ASU has gone to the line 204 times (22.7 per game) compared to just 138 times for their opponents (15.3). The Sun Devils turned in their best effort from the charity stripe this year with an 83.3 percent outing (15-18) at Kent State on Dec. 18. Freshman Jill Noe leads the team and ranks third in the Pac-10 at 82.9 percent (29-35), while a total of four Sun Devils rank in the top 10 in the league in free throw shooting (Noe-3rd, Kylan Loney-4th, Kristen Kovesdy-5th and Amy Denson-9th). ix Sun Devils are shooting at least 70 percent from the charity stripe this season.

Good StartThe Sun Devils opened this season with a 5-0 record for the first time since the 1991-92 season, while the team's 8-1 non-conference record is also the best start since that campaign. The 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.

In the RankingsArizona State, which has been ranked at times in each of the last two seasons, is receiving votes in each of the national polls (23 votes to rank 31st in the AP poll, nine votes to rank 41st in the USA Today poll).

Second-Half SurgesThis year's Sun Devils have shown the ability to kick things up a notch in the second half, outscoring their opponents 360-271 over the final 20 minutes this year. ASU has shot 51.2 percent from the field in the second half this year (126-246), including a season-best 81.0 percent outing last week at Akron (17-21). On Dec. 18 at Kent State, ASU rebounded from a 26.7 percent first half (8-30) with a 51.9 percent half (14-27). Even in the team's first loss of the year to No. 9 Notre Dame, the Sun Devils followed up a dismal 17-point, 13.8-percent half by playing the Fighting Irish to a 35-35 tie and shooting 39.5 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes. Comparatively, the Sun Devils have outscored their opponents just 293-270 and shot just 39.4 percent from the field (121-307) in the first halves of games this year.

Quick Notes- In the last three games, ASU has outrebounded its opponents by an average of 13.3 boards per game and allowed just 5.3 offensive rebounds per contest. Arizona State is now leading the Pac-10 in rebounding defense, allowing just 30.8 rebounds per game. The Sun Devils outrebounded Kent State 43-20 on Dec. 18 and held the Golden Flashes to just two offensive rebounds and no second chance points.

- In its two road games in Ohio, Arizona State held Kent State and Akron under 50 points, allowing the Golden Flashes 48 points and the Zips a season-low 46 points. Counting the team's Dec. 9 win over Denver, ASU has allowed just 49.0 points per game in the last three contests and 60.1 points per game this season, which ranks fourth in the Pac-10.

- Freshman Kristen Kovesdy is leading the team and ranks third in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage, knocking down 65.4 percent of her shots on the year (34-52). She 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.

- Freshman Jill Noe and junior Iman Young each rank in the top 10 in the Pac-10 in assists so far this year. Noe leads the team and ranks seventh in the Pac-10 with 3.6 assists per game, while Young is eighth in the league at 3.4 per game. Young (2.4) and Noe (1.4) also rank second and seventh in the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio, respectively, Young has turned in 24 assists and just 10 turnovers so far this season.

- Senior Rainy Crisp has turned in 14 assists to just two turnovers this season. Her lofty 7.0 assist to turnover ratio would top the Pac-10, but she is just one assist shy of the 3.0 assist-per-game minimum needed to appear in the Pac-10 statistics.

- Through ASU's first nine games, sophomore Kylan Loney has already knocked down 15 three-pointers, surpassing the total of 14 the honorable-mention Pac-10 All-Freshman honoree had all of last year. Loney is shooting 41.7 percent from beyond the arc (15-36) this year.

- The Sun Devil bench has outscored their opponents' reserves in all but one game this year (at Kent State) and is averaging 23.6 points per game (212 points).

- 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.

Turner Thorne Second in All-Time Wins at ASUWith a 98-87 record in her six-plus years at ASU, head coach Charli Turner Thorne holds 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.

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