Women's Hoops Travels to 25th-Ranked Arizona on Saturday Afternoon

Feb. 18, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Coming off a pair of losses at USC and UCLA last weekend, the Arizona State Sun Devils (14-10 overall, 6-9 Pac-10) head to Tucson this weekend for their third straight road game, taking on the No. 25/24 Arizona Wildcats (17-7, 10-5 Pac-10) at 1 p.m. MST Saturday afternoon at UA's McKale Center. Saturday's game will mark the 57th meeting between the intrastate rivals in the longest series in school history, which dates back to 1975-76, the first year of varsity women's basketball at ASU. The Sun Devils will be looking to win their third straight game over the Wildcats and their sixth in the last seven games in the series. ASU will also be looking to snap a four-game Pac-10 road losing streak and improve upon a 1-7 road record in Pac-10 play. The Sun Devils, who have played five of their last seven games on the road, are looking to avoid their first three-game losing streak since dropping the last three contests of the 1999-00 season. Arizona, ranked 25th in this week's Associated Press poll and 24th in the latest USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll, brings a 17-7 overall record and a 10-5 Pac-10 mark into Saturday's game with the Sun Devils. The Wildcats have won four of their last five games and are 6-0 in Pac-10 home games this season.

In the SeriesArizona State holds a 34-22 advantage in the all-time series with Arizona, including a 16-10 advantage in games played in Tucson. The Sun Devils have won two straight games and five of the last six in the series with Arizona, including a 73-58 victory over the then 19th-ranked Wildcats on Jan. 23 in Tempe. Last year, ASU turned in an 87-64 victory over Arizona Dec. 30 in Tempe, which was ASU's biggest win in the series since turning in a 29-point 83-54 victory in 1980-81. ASU fell to the Wildcats 72-66 on Feb. 23 in Tucson and downed Arizona 66-58 on March 2 in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament, which was the first of ASU's three come-from-behind wins en route to the inaugural league tournament title. ASU trailed by 10 points at halftime of that game (36-26). Senior Cian Carvalho scored 15 of her 17 points in the second-half effort, and the Sun Devils held the Wildcats to 17.4 percent shooting and just four field goals in the final 20 minutes en route to the win.

The series with Arizona is the longest for the Sun Devils and dates back to the 1975-76 season, the first year of varsity women's basketball at Arizona State (although the team played another seven games before that year with UA winning five of seven). ASU snapped a 14-game losing streak to the Wildcats in 2000-01 with its first season sweep since 1991-92. While the Wildcats have gotten the best of the series in recent years, the Sun Devils dominated it in the early games, winning 18 of the first 20 meetings which included a streak of 16 games that encompassed eight full seasons (1978-79 to 1985-86).

Arizona ConnectionArizona State freshman Jenny Thigpin was a high school teammate of Arizona redshirt freshman Shawntinice Polk at Hanford (Calif.) High School. Thigpin, a 6-2 forward, and Polk, a 6-5 center, led the Hanford Lady Pups to three straight league titles (1999-01) and the 2001 CIF Division II state championship.

Thigpin has been a solid contributor off the bench for the Sun Devils all season long. She is second on the team in blocked shots (13 blocks, 0.6 per game) and ranks sixth on the ASU list for blocks by a freshman. Thigpin has rejected one shot in each of the last five games and one in eight of the last nine games. In the last three games, Thigpin has averaged 4.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game and shot 70.0 percent from the field (7-10).

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 66.0 points per game which ranks sixth in the Pac-10, including a season-high 82 points twice (last at Akron on Dec. 20). The team also ranks seventh in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage and sixth in three-point percentage, shooting 40.8 percent from the field (565-1385) and 31.9 percent from three-point land (89-279).

But Not to Forget the Defense...In addition to 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 33.6 rebounds per game. The Sun Devils are also ranked third in the league in scoring defense, allowing just 62.4 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, while the team's current average of 33.6 boards allowed per game is just off the school record for rebounding defense, set by last year's team at 33.3 rebounds per game. On Jan. 23, the Sun Devils held then No. 19 Arizona to just 58 points and 28 rebounds, 20.8 points and 13.1 rebounds below the Wildcats' then Pac-10 leading 78.5 points and 41.1 rebounds per contest. ASU also held the Wildcats to just eight offensive rebounds in the game and none in the first half of that contest, while in ASU's Feb. 8 upset of then No. 20/24 Washington, the Sun Devils allowed the Huskies just 56 points, which was UW's second-lowest point total of the season and 21.7 points below the team's Pac-10 leading average of 77.7 points per game.

The Sun Devils also continue to lead the league in three-point shooting defense, a category the team has paced the Pac-10 in three of the last four years. This season, ASU is allowing its opponents to shoot just 28.1 percent from three-point land (61-217), while in the last eight games, the Sun Devils have held their opponents to just 22.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc (17-77). On Jan. 31 at Oregon, ASU held the Ducks, the league's third-best three-point shooting team, to just 18.2 percent (2-11), down from their then season numbers of 35.7 percent and 6.2 treys per game, while on Feb. 8, Washington, the Pac-10 leader in three-point shooting, knocked down just 23.5 percent of its attempts (4-17), down from the Huskies' then season numbers of 38.1 percent and 8.52 treys per game.

Last Time OutSophomore Carrie Buckner scored a career-high 16 points as Arizona State fell to the UCLA Bruins 71-62 Sunday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion.

In the first half, Arizona State took control early, opening the game with an 8-0 run over the first 3:37 of the game. Freshman Amy Denson scored the team's first five points and sophomore Kylan Loney knocked down her first three-pointer of the game during that run. ASU took a 15-4 lead with 12:33 to play, but UCLA turned in a 17-2 run over the next 4:19 to take a 21-17 lead with 6:40 to play. The Sun Devils tied the game at 21 with 4:48 to play and UCLA went up 23-22, but ASU closed the half on an 8-2 run, including a three-pointer by freshman Jill Noe, to take a 30-25 edge into the locker room. Buckner led the team with eight points in the first half, while Denson had seven points on 3-of-3 shooting from the field.

UCLA opened the second half with a 15-2 run to erase the Sun Devil advantage and take a 42-33 lead with 13:43 to play. ASU narrowed the gap to just one point at 54-53 with 3:43 remaining in the contest. UCLA's Nikki Blue then connected on what turned out to be the final Bruin basket of the game to put the Bruins up 56-53. ASU never pulled closer than four points in the final two minutes as the Bruins knocked down 15-of-18 attempts from the free throw line to secure the victory.

Buckner led the team with 16 points. For Buckner, it marked the fourth straight game that she has had 12 points or more. Denson finished with 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting, while Loney chipped in with 10 points, including 2-of-3 three-point attempts. Freshman Kristen Kovesdy paced the team with six rebounds.

UCLA's Blue led all scorers with 20 points, while senior Michelle Greco had 18.

Last Time vs. ArizonaFreshman Jill Noe scored 22 points, and Arizona State held No. 19 Arizona 20 points below its Pac-10-leading average in a 73-58 upset Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena. The victory gave ASU its third straight win over Arizona at Wells Fargo Arena and its fifth in the last six meetings with the Wildcats

Arizona State led for most of the game, jumping out to a 21-6 lead with 12:24 to play. The Wildcats cut the lead to four points with a 13-2 run, but the Sun Devils went into the locker room with a 32-24 halftime lead. Noe and fellow freshman Amy Denson each had six points in the first half to lead the Sun Devils, while sophomore Carrie Buckner turned in four points and seven rebounds in the first 20 minutes. The Sun Devils outrebounded the Wildcats 22-10 and didn't not allow the Wildcats an offensive rebound in the first half.

Arizona State committed just six turnovers in the second half to build on its halftime lead. Arizona cut the Arizona State's lead to 47-46 with 8:50 left, but Noe made a pair of free throws and turned a steal into a layup to put the Sun Devils up 51-46 with 8:18 to play, and the Wildcats couldn't get any closer.

Noe finished with 22 points, including 16 in the second half, while Buckner turned in the first double-double of her career with 10 points and a career-high-tying 12 rebounds. It also marked the ninth double-double of the season for ASU and the first by someone other than a true freshman.

Sophomore Dee-Dee Wheeler had 14 points to lead the Wildcats, while ASU freshman Jenny Thigpin, in her first start of the season, helped hold Arizona redshirt freshman Shawntinice Polk, the conference's second-leading scorer and her former high school teammate, to 11 points, seven below her average. Polk didn't score a basket until there was 15:30 left in the game and was 3-of-7 from the field before fouling out with 7:13 left.

The Buck(ner) Stops HereSophomore Carrie Buckner has turned up her game a notch in the last 10 games, averaging 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest. She has scored at least 12 points in each of the last four games, including a career-high 16 at UCLA last weekend. Buckner turned in the first double-double of her career with 10 points and a career-high-tying 12 rebounds vs. then 19th-ranked Arizona on Jan. 23, while on Feb. 6 vs. Washington State, she had 12 points, eight rebounds, one assist, one block and two steals in just 23 minutes. In ASU's upset of No. 20 Washington on Saturday, Buckner scored 10 of her 12 points and had all six of her career-best steals in ASU's second-half comeback. She played 13 minutes in the second half and held UW's Giuliana Mendiola to just four second-half points after Mendiola had 16 in the first half.

Buckner played a career-high 35 minutes in each of ASU's games vs. UCLA and USC, averaging 10.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game and taking the toughest defensive assignment in each contest. She held the Pac-10's scoring leader, UCLA senior Michelle Greco, to just six points, 12.6 points below her then average of 18.6 points per game and added 12 points and six rebounds, while against the Women of Troy, Buckner had eight points and five steals.

Buckner has been one of the most consistent players for the Sun Devils this year, ranking fifth in scoring (8.3 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (5.5), up from her averages of 4.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season. Buckner leads the team and is fifth in the Pac-10 with 2.12 steals per game, while with 51 takeaways on the year, she has already surpassed her production of 38 steals from last year.

Ball TheftsThe Sun Devils are ranked third in the Pac-10 in steals this season, averaging 10.2 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 13 of 24 games this year. Sophomore Carrie Buckner leads the team and ranks fifth in the Pac-10 with 2.12 thefts per game, while freshman Jill Noe is sixth in the Pac-10 with 2.0 thefts per game. Eight Sun Devils have 15 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, a two-time Pac-10 Player of the Week this season, ranks first on the team and 10th in the Pac-10 in scoring at 13.2 points and third on the team and 14th in the Pac-10 in rebounding at 5.8 boards per contest. Noe has led the team in scoring in 11 of the last 20 games, including a career-best 23 points Jan. 2 vs. Oregon State and again Jan. 11 at Washington State. Freshmen forward Amy Denson leads the team and ranks ninth in the Pac-10 in rebounding (6.2 rpg), while fellow freshman Kristen Kovesdy is second on the team and 12th in the league in the category (6.0 rpg). In scoring, Denson is second on the team and 20th in the Pac-10 at 10.6 points per game, while Kovesdy is third on the team at 10.1 rpg. Kovesdy also leads the team and ranks sixth in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage at 53.8 percent (91-169).

Double TroubleThe Sun Devil rookies have had 10 of ASU's 11 double-doubles this season, including freshman Amy Denson's fourth of the year Feb. 14 at USC (11 points, 11 rebounds). ASU had a true freshman turn in her first career double-double in each of the team's first three games. 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. Denson turned in the second of her career with 17 points and 11 rebounds at Cal on Dec. 29 and Noe accomplished 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 Jan. 16 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. Noe added her fourth double-double of the year last with 10 points and 10 rebounds in ASU's win over Washington State on Feb. 6.

ASU's Double-DoublesJill Noe (Chicago State, 11/22/02)	17 pts, 10 rbsKristen Kovesdy (Northern Illinois, 11/25/02)	19 pts, 10 rbsAmy Denson (Portland State, 11/29/02)	12 pts, 14 rbsKristen Kovesdy (Kent State, 12/18/02)	12 pts, 12 rbsAmy Denson (California, 12/29/02)	17 pts, 11 rbsJill Noe (Oregon State, 1/2/03)	23 pts, 11 rbsJill Noe (UCLA, 1/16/03)	11 pts, 11 rbsKristen Kovesdy (UCLA, 1/16/03)	13 pts, 13 rbsCarrie Buckner (Arizona, 1/23/03)	10 pts, 12 rbsJill Noe (Washington State, 2/6/03)	10 pts, 10 rbsAmy Denson (at USC, 2/14/03)	11 pts, 11 rbs

Just Say NoeFreshman Jill Noe earned her second Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week honor of the season on Jan. 6 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.

Noe has done it all for the Sun Devils this year, pacing the team in scoring (13.2 ppg) and free throw percentage (.797). She also ranks second on the team in three-point field goal percentage (.355), steals (2.0 spg) and assists (3.0 apg) and is third in rebounding (5.8 rpg). She is ranked fifth in the Pac-10 in free throw shooting, sixth in steals, 10th in scoring and tied for 14th in rebounding. With 317 points, she is third on the ASU single-season list for scoring by a freshman and is also threatening the school freshman records for steals (fifth with 48) and assists (third with 72).

Noe has scored in double figures 17 times in 24 games this year (with five 20-point games) and has paced the team in scoring in 12 of ASU's 24 contests this season. 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.

Success at the Charity StripeThis season, the Sun Devils have turned into one of the league's better free throw shooting teams, ranking fourth in the Pac-10 in the category at 68.9 percent on the year (365-530). 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 11 of 24 games. Freshman Jill Noe leads the team and is fifth in the Pac-10 at 79.7 percent (98-123), including 8-of-8 Jan. 18 vs. USC and a 6-of-6 effort Feb. 6 vs. Washington State. Six Sun Devils are shooting at least 65 percent from the charity stripe on the season.

Quick Notes

- After turning the ball over just 13.7 times per game in its previous three games, including a season-low 13 times in ASU's upset of Washington, the Sun Devils turned the ball over 24.5 times per game in its losses at USC and UCLA last weekend.

- At home, where the team has turned in an 11-3 record (5-2 in the Pac-10), ASU is averaging 69.4 points a game and shooting 41.5 percent from the field (341-821) and 35.6 percent from three-point land (62-174). In comparison, on the road, the team has turned in a 3-7 record (just 1-6 in Pac-10 play) and is averaging 61.3 points per game and shooting 39.7 percent from the field (224-564) and just 25.7 percent from three-point land (27-105). The team's lone league road win came at Washington State Jan. 11.

- Saturday's game marks the fifth and final road game in a stretch that has seen ASU play five of its last seven on the road.

- ASU's Feb. 8 upset of then No. 20/24 Washington marked ASU's third win over a ranked opponent this year. Earlier this season, ASU knocked off then No. 14 Georgia 74-70 on Dec. 2 and two weeks ago, the Sun Devils got the best of then No. 19 Arizona 73-58 on Jan. 23 at Wells Fargo Arena.

- ASU had 52 rebounds in its Feb. 6 win over Washington State (52-35 advantage), marking the second time this year that ASU has pulled down 50 or more boards in a game. ASU outrebounded UCLA 55-35 on Jan. 16, 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 Wildcat win in Tempe.

- A total of four Sun Devils rank in the Pac-10's top 20 in rebounding (Amy Denson-9th, Kristen Kovesdy-12th, Jill Noe-14th and Carrie Buckner-16th).

- The Sun Devils have already blocked 72 shots this season, which surpasses the 51 the team had all of last year and is the most since the 1992-93 team had 89 rejections. Last year, ASU finished ninth in the Pac-10 with just 1.5 blocks per game, while this season, the team ranks fifth with 3.0 per contest. Freshman Kristen Kovesdy leads the team and is seventh in the Pac-10 in the category with 0.7 blocked shots per game. Her 16 blocked shots also put her in fourth on the ASU single-season list for blocks by a freshman and just three rejections out of second place on the list, while Jenny Thigpin is sixth on that list with 13 blocks.

- The Sun Devils are now leading the Pac-10 in the category with 15.33 offensive boards per game, including a season-high 24 vs. UCLA on Jan. 16 and 21 vs. Washington State on Feb. 6. Sophomore Carrie Buckner is tied for fifth in the Pac-10 with 2.67 offensive rebounds per game, while freshman Kristen Kovesdy is eighth in the league with 2.54 offensive boards per contest.

- ASU's seven new players (including six freshmen) account for 61.4 percent of the team's scoring (973 of 1584 points) and 57.7 percent of the team's rebounding (523 of 907 boards) this year.

- Freshman Kristen Kovesdy is leading the team and ranks sixth in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage, knocking down 53.8 percent of her shots on the year (91-169). 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.

- Through ASU's 24 games, sophomore Kylan Loney leads the team with 39 three-pointers, surpassing the total of 14 she had all of last year. Loney leads the team and is tied for sixth in the Pac-10 at 37.9 percent from three-point land this year (39-103), while freshman Jill Noe is second on the team at 35.5 percent (33-93). 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 six games this year and is averaging 18.8 points per game (450 points). Junior Jen Albert is the team's leading scorer off the bench at 5.0 points per game, including a career-high 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting Feb. 6 vs. Washington State. Albert has scored an average of 10.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and shot 60.0 percent from the field (15-25) in the last four games.

- 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 104-96 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.

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