Women's Hoops to Play Host to UCLA and USC This Weekend

Jan. 14, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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After splitting a pair of games at Washington and Washington State last weekend, the Arizona State Sun Devils (11-4 overall, 3-3 Pac-10) return home this week, playing host to the UCLA Bruins on Thursday, Jan. 16 and the USC Women of Troy on Saturday, Jan. 18. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. Mountain Time on Thursday vs. UCLA and 7 p.m. MST on Saturday vs. USC. Both games will be televised locally by AZ-TV, while ASU makes its debut on its new radio station, NBC 1190 AM, this weekend as well. The Sun Devils, who are starting three true freshmen and two sophomores this year, return home after playing six of their last eight games on the road and will be looking to win their 11th and 12th straight Pac-10 home games this weekend against the visitors from Los Angeles.

UCLA sits atop the Pac-10 standings with a 5-0 league mark heading into Thursday night's game. The Bruins are 10-4 overall and bring a six-game winning streak to Tempe after downing USC 72-64 last Sunday at Pauley Pavilion. USC is 6-10 overall and 1-4 in the Pac-10 and will play at 18th-ranked Arizona on Thursday night before heading to Tempe. The Women of Troy have dropped their last three games and six of their last seven.

In the SeriesUCLA holds a 36-12 advantage in the series with the Sun Devils, including a 17-8 edge in games played in Tempe. ASU has gotten the better of the series recently, winning the last four games in the series, which marks the Sun Devils' longest all-time winning streak vs. the Bruins. Last year, ASU swept the series for the second consecutive season with a 70-57 win at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 17 and a 64-42 victory in Tempe on Feb. 16. During ASU's current four-game winning streak in the series, the Sun Devils have won by an average of 15.8 points per game.

USC leads the series with the Sun Devils 41-8, including a 19-5 advantage in games played in Tempe. The Sun Devils have won three of the last four games in the series and five of the last seven, including the last three matchups at Wells Fargo Arena. In 2000-01, ASU earned its first ever season sweep of the Women of Troy, while last year, the teams split the two meetings with USC earning a 68-49 victory on Jan. 19 in Los Angeles and ASU getting a 67-60 win on Feb. 14 in Tempe.

USC ConnectionHead coach Charli Turner Thorne was a graduate assistant at the University of Washington for current USC head coach 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. Turner Thorne is also a native of southern California, graduating from Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills, Calif., in 1984.

Home-Court AdvantageArizona State's victory over Oregon on Jan. 4 marked the team's 16th win in 17 home games dating back to last year. The Sun Devils had a school-record 13-game home winning streak snapped by No. 9 Notre Dame on Dec. 7. That streak included the team's last eight Pac-10 home contests of last season and its first five games of the 2002-03 season. The previous school record for consecutive home victories was 12, accomplished over the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons. ASU, which played its first seven games of the 2002-03 season at home, has turned in a 42-9 record at Wells Fargo Arena in the last four seasons. In the last three years, ASU has gone 17-3 in Pac-10 play at home and is currently on a 10-game Pac-10 home winning streak (last eight of last season, 2-0 this year).

There's No Place Like HomeIn addition to their 8-1 record at Wells Fargo Arena this year (2-0 in Pac-10 games), the Sun Devils are also turning in some stellar stats in their home games. At home, ASU is averaging 72.8 points a game and shooting 44.0 percent from the field (228-518) and 39.2 percent from three-point land (49-125). In comparison, on the road, the team is averaging 66.3 points per game and shooting 40.6 percent from the field (146-360) and just 24.2 percent from three-point land (15-62). Rebounding is one of the few stats that is better away from the friendly confines of Wells Fargo Arena with the Sun Devils pulling down 38.0 rebounds per game on the road and 35.2 boards per game at home.

Just Say NoeFreshman Jill Noe earned her second Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week honor of the season last week and became the first true freshman in the Pac-10 to earn two player-of-the-week honors in a season since Stanford's Nicole Powell did it in 2000-01. Noe was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for Dec. 30-Jan. 5 after averaging 21.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 4.5 steals in ASU's home wins over Oregon State and Oregon. She turned in a career-high 23 points and 11 rebounds in the victory over Oregon State and followed up that effort with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in ASU's win over Oregon. On the weekend, Noe shot 41.7 percent from the field (10-24), 42.9 percent from three-point land (6-14) and 83.3 percent from the free throw line (15-18).

Noe was also named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Dec. 9-15. She 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 in the victory over the Pioneers.

Noe has done it all for the Sun Devils this year, pacing the team in scoring (15.3 ppg), three-point field goal percentage (.400), free throw percentage (.821), assists (3.7 apg), steals (2.7 spg) and is third on the team in rebounding (5.1 rpg). She is second in the Pac-10 in steals, third in free throw shooting, sixth in scoring, eighth in assists, eighth in assist-to-turnover ratio and tied for 10th in three-point shooting. Noe has scored in double figures 12 times in 15 games this year (with four 20-point games) and has paced the team in scoring in nine of ASU's 15 contests this season, including eight of the last 11. She notched career highs for scoring in back-to-back games with 21 points at California on Dec. 29 and 23 points Jan. 2 vs. Oregon State and matched her career best again with 23 points (including 18 in the second half) at Washington State last week. In the last five games (Cal, OSU, Oregon, Washington and WSU), the Tualatin, Ore., native has averaged 18.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.8 assists per contest.

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 this season. This year, the team is averaging 70.2 points per game which ranks fifth in the Pac-10, including a season-high 82 points twice (last at Akron on Dec. 20). The team also ranks sixth in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage and three-point percentage, shooting 42.6 percent from the field (374-878) and 34.2 percent from three-point land (64-187).

But Not to Forget the Defense...Despite the team's improved offensive performance, the Sun Devils still continue to be one of the top defensive teams in the conference. ASU is second in the Pac-10 in rebounding defense, allowing just 32.7 rebounds per game. The Sun Devils are also ranked third in the league in scoring defense, allowing just 62.7 points per contest. Arizona State has led the league in both rebounding and scoring defense in each of the last two years (2000-01 and 2001-02). Last year, the team set a Pac-10 record by giving up just 59.1 points per game.

Last Time OutFreshman Jill Noe scored 18 of her career-high-tying 23 points in the second half as Arizona State rallied to a 66-58 victory over Washington State Saturday night at WSU's Friel Court.

The first half was all Cougars as Washington State forced nine ASU turnovers early and took a 15-7 lead with 8:40 to play. The Cougars took their biggest lead of the game three minutes later, going up 19-9 with 5:38 to play after forcing three more ASU turnovers. The Sun Devils went on a 9-0 run, including a three-pointer from sophomore Kylan Loney, to cut the WSU lead to 19-18 with 2:35 left in the half, but the Cougars scored five of the final six points of the half to take a 24-19 halftime lead. Arizona State shot just 25 percent in the first half, knocking down just seven field goals, and turned the ball over 17 times.

In the second half, ASU quickly cut the lead to two when Noe knocked down a three-pointer, but Washington State answered with a 9-2 run to make it 33-24 with 16:32 to play. Loney knocked down her second three-pointer of the game to make it 33-27 and start the ASU rally. Freshman Kristen Kovesdy made a pair of layups including a one on the fastbreak after forcing a steal to get the Sun Devils within two, 35-33, with 13:08 left in the game.

ASU took control a minute later when Noe hit a shot on an inbounds play, was fouled and knocked down the free throw to tie the game at 38 with 11:21 left. Senior Rainy Crisp stole the Cougars' inbounds pass on the next possession and knocked down a pair of free throws to give ASU its first lead of the ball game, 42-40 with 10:36 to play.

WSU briefly took a two-point lead, but Noe converted on another three-point play to put ASU up for good, 45-43 with 8:23 remaining in the game. After Noe's three-point play, the Sun Devils hit a pair of free throws, including one on a technical foul, to go up 47-43 and never allowed the Cougars to get closer than three en route to their Pac-10 road win of the season. After shooting just 25 percent in the first half, ASU turned in a 44.1 percent effort in the second half (15-34) to finish at 35.5 percent for the game.

Noe led all scorers and tied her career best with 23 points, scoring 18 of those points in the second half. She also added four assists and three steals in the victory. Kovesdy finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Buckner pulled down a career-high and team-best 12 rebounds and added eight points, two blocks and two steals. Freshman Jenny Thigpin added a career-high seven rebounds and had four points and a block in just nine minutes.

For WSU, Jessica Perry led three Cougars in double figures with 29 points, while Bianca McCall turned in a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds.

Ball TheftsThe Sun Devils are ranked second in the Pac-10 in steals this season, averaging 11.7 steals per game. The team had a season-high 20 steals vs. UW-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 least 10 steals in 10 of 15 games this year. Freshman Jill Noe leads the team and is ranked second in the Pac-10 with 2.7 thefts per game, including a career-high-tying six steals Jan. 2 vs. Oregon State. Eight Sun Devils have 11 or more steals on the year.

Young GunsThree of ASU's true freshmen continue to lead the team in scoring and rebounding with guard Jill Noe first on the team and sixth in the Pac-10 in scoring at 15.3 points and and third on the team in rebounding at 5.1 boards per contest. Noe has led the team in scoring in eight of the last 11 games, a career-best 23 points Jan. 2 vs. Oregon State and again Jan. 11 at Washington State. Freshman forward Amy Denson paces the squad and ranks eighth in the Pac-10 in rebounding (6.3 rpg). She is also second on the team in scoring (11.5 ppg), while freshman forward Kristen Kovesdy ranks second on the team and ninth in the Pac-10 in rebounding (6.3 rpg) and is third on the team in scoring (11.3 ppg). Kovesdy also leads the team and ranks second in the Pac-10 Conference in field goal percentage at 63.3 percent (62-98).

Double TroubleASU had a true freshman turn in her first career double-double in each of the team's first three games, while the Sun Devil rookies have all six of ASU's double-doubles this season. Freshman guard Jill Noe led the Sun Devils with a double-double in their season-opening win over Chicago State with 17 points and 10 rebounds, freshman forward Kristen 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 freshman forward Amy 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. ASU has gotten a double-double from a rookie in two of the last three games with Denson turning in the second of her career with 17 points and 11 rebounds at Cal on Dec. 29 and Noe accomplishing the same feat on Jan. 2 with career bests of 23 points and 11 rebounds vs. Oregon State.

Success at the Charity StripeThis season, the Sun Devils have turned into one of the league's best free throw shooting teams, ranking fourth in the Pac-10 in the category at 69.1 percent on the year (241-349). Last year, the team finished ninth in the Pac-10 in the category at just 63.9 percent (524-820). 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 and have shot 70 percent or better from the line in eight of 15 games. Freshman Jill Noe leads the team and ranks third in the Pac-10 at 82.1 percent (64-78), while freshman Amy Denson ranks ninth in the Pac-10 at 76.5 percent (39-51). Six Sun Devils are shooting at least 65 percent from the charity stripe on the season.

Second-Half SurgesThis year's Sun Devils have shown the ability to kick things up a notch in the second half, outscoring their opponents 590-483 over the final 20 minutes this year. The team has only been outscored in the second half just two games this year (at Stanford and at Cal). ASU has shot 47.1 percent from the field in the second half this year (202-429), including a season-best 81.0 percent outing Dec. 20 at Akron (17-21). Comparatively, the Sun Devils have outscored their opponents just 463-458 and shot just 38.3 percent from the field (172-449) in the first halves of games this year.

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). 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. Last weekend in ASU's games at Washington and Washington State, the team averaged 16.5 points and shot 22.8 percent from the field (13-57) in the first halves compared to 44.5 points and 46.9 percent from the field (31-66) in the second halves of the two contests.

Quick Notes

- This weekend's games will pit the teams ranked first through third in the Pac-10 in steals with UCLA first with 13.1 steals per game, ASU second with 11.7 and USC third with 11.4. All three teams have an individual ranked in the top three in the league in the category with UCLA's Michelle Greco ranking first (2.86), ASU's Jill Noe second (2.73) and USC's Ebony Hoffman third (2.62).

- ASU's seven new players account for 64.2 percent of the team's scoring (676 of 1053 points) and 58.2 percent of the team's rebounding (317 of 545 boards) this year.

- Despite being one of the better free throw shooting teams in the Pac-10 this year, the Sun Devils turned in their two worst efforts from the free throw line last week in Washington. The team shot a season-low 52.6 percent (10-19) on Jan. 9 at Washington and followed that up with a 57.6 percent outing (19-33) at Washington State on Jan. 11. On the weekend, the team shot 55.8 percent from the charity stripe (29-52) down from its season average of 69.1 percent (241-349).

- Freshman Kristen Kovesdy is leading the team and ranks second in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage, knocking down 63.3 percent of her shots on the year (62-98). 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 leads the team and is eighth in the Pac-10 with 55 assists (3.7 per game) so far this year. She is already tied for ninth in the ASU single-season list for assists by a freshman, a record that honorable-mention Pac-10 All-Freshman selection Kylan Loney set last year with 104 assists. Noe also ranks eighth in the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4).

- Through ASU's 15 games, sophomore Kylan Loney is tied with freshman Jill Noe for the team lead with 25 three-pointers, surpassing the total of 14 she had all of last year. Loney and Noe are also tied for first in three-point shooting, each knocking down 40.0 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc (25-65) this year. Loney drilled a career-best and team-high five three-pointers in ASU's Jan. 4 win over Oregon, while Noe has knocked down at least three treys in five games this year.

- The Sun Devil bench has outscored their opponents' reserves in all but five games this year and is averaging 19.4 points per game (291 points).

- 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 101-90 record in her seven 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. Turner Thorne earned the 100th win of her ASU career with a 78-63 victory over Oregon on Jan. 4 of this year. 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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