Women's Hoops to Host USC at 7 p.m. on Saturday

Jan. 17, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Coming off a 60-58 loss to the UCLA Bruins on Thursday night, the Arizona State Sun Devils (11-5 overall, 3-4 Pac-10) return to action Saturday night, taking on the USC Women of Troy at 7 p.m. MST at Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils, who have lost two of their last three games, will be looking to rebound after having their 10-game Pac-10 home game winning streak snapped by the Bruins on Thursday night. ASU will be looking to get their fourth straight home victory over the Women of Troy and their fourth in five games in the series with USC. The Women of Troy are 6-11 overall and 1-5 in the Pac-10 following a 79-76 loss at 18th-ranked Arizona on Thursday night. USC has now dropped its last four games and seven of the team's last eight.

In the SeriesUSC 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 loss to UCLA on Thursday night snapped a 10-game Pac-10 home winning streak for the Sun Devils and was the team's first Pac-10 home loss since ASU fell to then sixth-ranked Stanford 75-66 on Dec. 21, 2001. ASU has now won 16 of its last 18 home games and 10 of 11 Pac-10 home games dating back to last year. In the last three seasons, ASU has gone 17-4 in Pac-10 play at home.

Earlier this year, the Sun Devils had their 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 42-10 record at Wells Fargo Arena in the last four seasons.

There's No Place Like HomeIn addition to their 8-2 record at Wells Fargo Arena this year (2-1 in Pac-10 games), the Sun Devils are also turning in some stellar stats in their home games. At home, ASU is averaging 71.3 points a game and shooting 43.5 percent from the field (253-582) and 36.7 percent from three-point land (51-139). 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).

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 (15.1 ppg), three-point field goal percentage (.391), free throw percentage (.805), assists (3.6 apg), steals (2.6 spg) and is third on the team in rebounding (5.5 rpg). She is third in the Pac-10 in steals, sixth in free throw shooting, seventh in scoring, eighth in assists, ninth in three-point shooting and 10th in assist-to-turnover ratio. Noe has scored in double figures 13 times in 16 games this year (with four 20-point games) and has paced the team in scoring in nine of ASU's 16 contests this season, including eight of the last 12. 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 on Jan. 11. Noe is also tied with fellow freshman Kristen Kovesdy for the team lead with three double-doubles on the year including 11 points and 11 rebounds Thursday night vs. UCLA.

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 69.4 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 42.4 percent from the field (399-942) and 32.8 percent from three-point land (66-201).

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 32.9 rebounds per game. The Sun Devils are also ranked third in the league in scoring defense, allowing just 62.6 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 OutFreshmen Jill Noe and Kristen Kovesdy turned in their third double-doubles of the season, but it wasn't enough as Arizona State was edged by UCLA 60-58 Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena. The loss snapped ASU's 10-game Pac-10 home winning streak and marked the seventh straight victory for league-leading UCLA.

The Sun Devils started out the first half slowly, turning the ball over 11 times and falling behind 24-13 with 8:24 left in the period. ASU, however, responded with a 16-6 run over the remaining half to go into the locker room down just 30-29 at halftime. Kovesdy and sophomore Carrie Buckner each scored six points during the Sun Devil run and went into the locker room as ASU's leading scorers with eight points apiece. Noe had six points and seven rebounds despite just playing 11 minutes.

The second half stayed close with ASU scoring the first four points of the half to take a three point lead, 33-30 with 14:48 to play. The next six minutes saw three ties and three lead changes until UCLA freshman Nikki Blue knocked down a three-pointer to put the Bruins up 42-39 with 11:46 left in the game. UCLA led by five points, 51-46 with 7:05 left to play, but ASU tied the game at 51 with 6:08 left on a layup by Buckner and a three-pointer by sophomore Kylan Loney. UCLA scored the next three points and held the lead until the Sun Devils took a 57-56 lead with 57 seconds to play after freshman Amy Denson knocked down a pair of shots. UCLA's Blue scored the next four points of the game to put the Bruins up 60-57 with seven seconds. For the Sun Devils, Kovesdy went to the line with six seconds left but hit just one of her free throws and ASU was unable to convert on their last possession as the Bruins won their sixth straight game.

Kovesdy led the team with 13 points and 13 rebounds, while Buckner and Denson each had 12 points. Noe turned in 11 points, 11 rebounds and three assists in just 20 minutes, while Denson also chipped in with nine rebounds. Buckner had six rebounds and held the Pac-10's scoring leader, UCLA senior Michelle Greco, to just six points, 13.5 points below her league-leading average. Senior Rainy Crisp led all players with a career-high six assists.

UCLA's Blue led all scorers with 30 points, including the last 14 points of the game for the Bruins. Blue and Greco each had nine rebounds.

ASU outrebounded the Bruins 55-35 and outshot them 39.1 to 36.8 percent, but turnovers proved to be the story of the game as ASU had 23 turnovers which led to Bruin points compared to UCLA's 13 turnovers and 11 ASU points.

Ball TheftsThe Sun Devils are ranked second in the Pac-10 in steals this season, averaging 11.2 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 16 games this year. Freshman Jill Noe leads the team and is ranked third in the Pac-10 with 2.6 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 and rank in the top 20 in the Pac-10 in both scoring and rebounding. Freshman guard Jill Noe ranks first on the team and seventh in the Pac-10 in scoring at 15.1 points and and third on the team and 15th in the Pac-10 in rebounding at 5.5 boards per contest. Noe has led the team in scoring in eight of the last 12 games, including a career-best 23 points Jan. 2 vs. Oregon State and again Jan. 11 at Washington State. Freshman forward Kristen Kovesdy leads the team and ranks eighth in the Pac-10 in rebounding (6.8 rpg) and is third on the team and 16th in the Pac-10 in scoring (11.4 ppg). Kovesdy also leads the team and ranks third in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage at 62.4 percent (68-109). Freshman forward Amy Denson is second on the team in both scoring and rebounding, ranking 15th in the league with 11.6 points per game and ninth with 6.6 rebounds per game.

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 eight 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. Both Noe and Kovesdy had their third double-doubles of the season Thursday night vs. UCLA with Noe turning in 11 points and a career-high-tying 11 rebounds and Kovesdy adding 13 points and a career-best 13 boards.

Second-Half SurgesThis year's Sun Devils have shown the ability to kick things up a notch in the second half, outscoring their opponents 619-513 over the final 20 minutes this year. The team has only been outscored in the second half just three games this year (all losses - at Stanford, at Cal and vs. UCLA). ASU has shot 46.6 percent from the field in the second half this year (215-461), including a season-best 81.0 percent outing Dec. 20 at Akron (17-21). Comparatively, the Sun Devils have outscored their opponents just 492-488 and shot just 38.2 percent from the field (184-481) in the first halves of games this year. 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. 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). 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.

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 68.2 percent on the year (247-362). 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 16 games. Freshman Jill Noe leads the team and ranks sixth in the Pac-10 at 80.5 percent (66-82), while freshman Amy Denson ranks 10th in the Pac-10 at 75.0 percent (39-52). Six Sun Devils are shooting at least 65 percent from the charity stripe on the season.

Quick Notes

- On Thursday night, sophomore Carrie Buckner held the Pac-10's scoring leader, UCLA senior Michelle Greco, to just six points, 13.5 points below her league-leading average of 19.5 points per game.

- ASU outrebounded UCLA 55-35 on Thursday, which marked a season high for the Sun Devils in rebounding and the most boards since the team turned in 55 in a win over Delaware State on Nov. 19, 2001. The last time ASU had 50 or more rebounds against a Pac-10 team came during the 1996-97 season when both Arizona State and Arizona had 50 rebounds in a 66-42 U-of-A win in Tempe.

- After turning a season-high 17 offensive rebounds vs. UCLA on Thursday night, the Sun Devils are now leading the Pac-10 in the category with 15.94 offensive boards per game.

- Despite being one of the better free throw shooting teams in the Pac-10 this year, the Sun Devils turned in their three worst efforts from the free throw line over the last three games. The team shot a season-low 46.2 percent (6-13) Thursday night vs. UCLA, its third season low in the category in as many games. In the last three games, ASU has shot just 55.6 percent from the charity stripe (35-63) down from its season average of 68.2 percent (241-349).

- This weekend's games pit the teams ranked first through third in the Pac-10 in steals with UCLA first with 12.9 steals per game, ASU second with 11.2 and USC third with 11.1. UCLA got the better of the steals battle on Thursday night with 11 to ASU's three, while the Women of Troy had seven thefts in their loss at Arizona. All three teams have an individual ranked in the top three in the league in the category with UCLA's Michelle Greco ranking first (2.80), USC's Ebony Hoffman second (2.59) and ASU's Jill Noe third (2.756).

- ASU's seven new players account for 64.2 percent of the team's scoring (713 of 1111 points) and 58.5 percent of the team's rebounding (351 of 600 boards) this year.

- Freshman Kristen Kovesdy is leading the team and ranks third in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage, knocking down 62.4 percent of her shots on the year (68-109). 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 58 assists (3.6 per game) so far this year. She is already 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 10th in the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3).

- Through ASU's 16 games, sophomore Kylan Loney is tied with freshman Jill Noe for the team lead with 27 three-pointers, surpassing the total of 14 Loney had all of last year. Noe ranks first on the team and ninth in three-point shooting, knocking down 39.1 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc (27-69) 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 18.7 points per game (299 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.

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