Women's Hoops to Host Hawai'i Thursday Night in the WNIT

March 18, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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In their school-record fourth consecutive postseason appearance, the Arizona State Sun Devils (15-13 overall, 7-11 Pac-10) play host to the Hawai'i Rainbow Wahine (16-13, 9-9 WAC) at 7:30 p.m. MST Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament. The winner of Thursday's night game between ASU and Hawai'i will face the winner of a first-round match-up between Northern Iowa (18-11) and Baylor (20-10), being played in Waco, Texas, on Thursday. Dates and locations of second-round games will be determined after each game. The WNIT features a field of 32 teams in a single-elimination format. All games, including the semifinals and championship game, will be hosted by participating schools at on-campus sites.

ASU's WNIT invitation marks the first time in school history that the team has earned postseason bids in four straight years with the Sun Devils playing in the WNIT in 2000 and making NCAA Tournament appearances in each of the last two seasons. Hosting a postseason game for the first time in 20 years, Arizona State heads into Thursday night's game looking to snap a two-game losing streak after falling to ninth-ranked Stanford in the team's regular-season finale and to California in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament. ASU also aims to get its first win in the WNIT after falling at Colorado State in 2000. Making its fourth straight appearance in the WNIT, Hawai'i brings a 16-13 record into Thursday night's game, most recently falling to then sixth-ranked Louisiana Tech in the semifinals of the WAC Tournament last week to snap the Rainbow Wahine's three-game winning streak.

In the SeriesArizona State won the only previous meeting between the two teams, turning in a 67-61 victory at Hawai'i's Stan Sheriff Center in the semifinals of the 2000 Asahi Rainbow Wahine Classic. The Sun Devils hold a 12-3 all-time record against teams from Western Athletic Conference.

A Springboard for the FutureArizona State's invitation to the 2003 Women's National Invitation Tournament bodes well for the future. Of the 32 teams that advanced to the WNIT last year, 12 earned NCAA Tournament bids this year (Illinois, George Washington, Washington, Holy Cross, DePaul, Western Kentucky, Miami, Southwest Missouri State, Michigan State, Georgia Tech, Valparaiso and Virginia Tech) and six advanced to the WNIT for a second season (Hawai'i, Oregon State, Missouri, Siena, Delaware and St. Joseph's).

March MadnessArizona State basketball fans can watch a March Madness doubleheader Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena with the men's NCAA Tournament game vs. Memphis showing on the video board at 5:10 p.m. Mountain Time and ASU's Women's National Invitation Tournament match-up with Hawaii tipping off live on the court at 7:30 p.m. Doors at Wells Fargo Arena will open at 4:30 p.m. for fans who can gain admittance to Wells Fargo Arena on Thursday night by purchasing a ticket for the women's game.

In the PostseasonThis year's WNIT bid marks the first time in school history that the Sun Devils have advanced to postseason play in four consecutive years with the team earning a WNIT bid in 2000, NCAA invitations in 2001 and 2002. ASU previously had advanced to postseason play in three straight seasons (NWIT in in 1981, NCAA Tournament in 1982 and 1983). ASU holds a 5-7 record in the school's six postseason appearances (0-1 WNIT, 3-5 NCAA, 2-1 NWIT) and won its first postseason game in 19 years last season when the team downed Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Thursday's game also marks the first time that ASU will host a postseason game since the 1983 NCAA Tournament when the Sun Devils downed Utah in the first round of the West Regional at Wells Fargo Arena. Arizona State has a 2-0 record in postseason play at Wells Fargo Arena, downing Georgia in the first round of the 1982 NCAA Tournament and the Utes in the first round in 1983.

Pac-10 Conference HonoreesFour Sun Devils earned All-Pac-10 Conference honors this season led by freshmen Jill Noe and Amy Denson who were named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman First Team. Freshman Kristen Kovesdy was an honorable-mention Pac-10 All-Freshman selection, while sophomore Carrie Buckner earned honorable-mention All-Pac-10 honors as well for the first time in her career. It marks the first time in school history that ASU has had two players earn first-team all-rookie honors, while it is the seventh consecutive year that ASU has had a player mentioned on the league's all-rookie team.

Hawai'i ConnectionsUniversity of Hawai'i director of athletics Herman Frazier is a 1977 graduate of Arizona State. An eight-time All-American, Frazier was the captain of ASU's 1977 NCAA championship track and field team and won NCAA titles in the 400-meter and as a member of ASU's 4x100-meter relay team. He won an Olympic gold medal as a member of the United States' 4x400-meter relay team and a bronze medal in the 400 meter at the 1976 Olympics and was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team. Frazier worked in various capacities in ASU's athletic administration and served as the senior associate athletics director for business operations before leaving ASU in 2000 to become the athletics director at Alabama-Birmingham where he stayed until August of 2002.

Getting It Done on DefenseThe Sun Devils continue to be one of the top defensive teams in the Pac-10 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 61.6 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, 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 29.4 percent from three-point land (74-252), while in the last 12 games, the Sun Devils have held their opponents to just 26.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc (30-112). 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.

Home-Court AdvantageASU's March 1 loss to then ninth-ranked Stanford snapped a four-game home winning streak for the Sun Devils, a stretch that included upsets of then No. 19 Arizona and then No. 20 Washington. ASU has won 19 of its last 23 home games and 13 of its last 16 Pac-10 home games dating back to last year. Earlier this season, the team's losses to UCLA and USC on Jan. 16 and 18 snapped a 10-game Pac-10 home winning streak for the Sun Devils and marked the team's first Pac-10 home losses since ASU fell to then sixth-ranked Stanford 75-66 on Dec. 21, 2001. In the last three seasons, ASU has gone 21-6 in Pac-10 play at Wells Fargo Arena.

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 year at home, has turned in a 45-12 record at Wells Fargo Arena in the last four seasons.

There's No Place Like HomeIn addition to their 12-4 record at Wells Fargo Arena this year (6-3 in Pac-10 games), the Sun Devils also turned in some stellar stats in their regular-season home games. At home, ASU averaged 67.8 points a game and shot 41.3 percent from the field (380-919) and 34.5 percent from three-point land (67-194). In comparison, in games away from Wells Fargo Arena, the team has turned in a 3-9 record (3-8 away, 0-1 neutral), averaged 58.6 points per game and shot 38.5 percent from the field (258-671) and just 23.0 percent from three-point land (28-122).

The Buck(ner) Stops HereSophomore Carrie Buckner has turned up her game a notch in the second half of the season, averaging 8.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per contest in the last 16 games. She has scored at least 12 points in five of the last eight games, including a career-high 16 at UCLA on Feb. 16 and a team-high 14 in ASU's Pac-10 Tournament loss to California.

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 Feb. 8, 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 home 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 USC, 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 (8.1 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (5.6), 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 2.11 steals per game, while with 59 takeaways on the year, she has already surpassed her production of 38 steals from last year. Buckner is ranked 18th in the Pac-10 in rebounding, while the Corvallis, Ore., native leads the team with 70 offensive rebounds which ranks sixth in the league (2.61 per game).

Ball TheftsThe Sun Devils are ranked third in the Pac-10 in steals this season, averaging 9.8 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 14 of 28 games this year. Sophomore Carrie Buckner leads the team and ranks fifth in the Pac-10 with 2.11 thefts per game, while freshman Jill Noe is eighth in the Pac-10 with 1.93 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 scoring and rebounding. Freshman guard Jill Noe, a two-time Pac-10 Player of the Week this season, ranks first on the team and 12th in the Pac-10 in scoring at 12.4 boards per contest. Noe has led the team in scoring in 12 of the last 24 games, including a career-best 23 points Jan. 2 vs. Oregon State and again Jan. 11 at Washington State. Noe is also third on the team and 17th in the Pac-10 in rebounding (5.9 rpg). Freshman forward Kristen Kovesdy leads the team and ranks 10th in the Pac-10 in rebounding (6.1 rpg), while fellow freshman forward Amy Denson is second on the team and tied for 11th in the league in the category (6.0 rpg). In scoring, Denson is second on the team at 10.2 points per game, while Kovesdy is third on the team at 9.4 rpg. Kovesdy also leads the team and ranks seventh in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage at 50.5 percent (97-192).

Double TroubleThe Sun Devil rookies have had 11 of ASU's 12 double-doubles this season, including freshman Jill Noe's fifth of the year Feb. 27 against Cal (12 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.

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, who has been slowed by a hip flexor/groin strain over the second half of the year, has done it all for the Sun Devils this year, pacing the team in scoring (12.4 ppg) and free throw percentage (.810). She also ranks second on the team in three-point field goal percentage (.327), steals (1.93 spg) and assists (2.8 apg) and is third in rebounding (5.9 rpg). She is ranked fifth in the Pac-10 in free throw shooting, eighth in steals, 12th in scoring and 17th in rebounding. With 348 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 (fourth with 52), assists (third with 77) and rebounds (fourth with 164).

Noe has scored in double figures 19 times in 28 games this year (with five 20-point games) and has paced the team in scoring 13 times 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. Noe also leads the team with five double-doubles on the year, including 12 points and 11 rebounds Feb. 27 vs. Cal.

Success at the Charity StripeThis season, the Sun Devils have turned into one of the league's better free throw shooting teams, ranking fifth in the Pac-10 in the category at 68.1 percent on the year (417-612). 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 12 of 28 games. Freshman Jill Noe leads the team and is fifth in the Pac-10 at 81.0 percent (111-137), 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

- Arizona State turned in season lows for scoring (38), field goals made (12), field goal percentage (.226), three-pointers made (0) and assists (3) in its Pac-10 Tournament loss to California on March 7. The Sun Devils also held Cal to a season-low-tying 46 points in that game.

- Freshman Jill Noe, ASU's leading free throw shooter, has knocked down 92.9 percent of her attempts from the charity stripe in the last three games (13-14), including a 7-of-8 effort vs. California in the Pac-10 Tournament.

- Sophomore Kylan Loney turned in a career-best eight assists March 1 vs. then No. 9 Stanford. Loney leads the team and is eighth in the Pac-10 with 3.4 assists per game. After setting the ASU freshman assists record last year with 104 assists, she has 94 assists this year for a career total of 198. Loney needs just five assists to tie Crystal Cobb (1989-94) for 10th on the ASU career list (203).

- ASU held Cal to a season-low 29.6 percent shooting on Feb. 27, while the Bears' 47 points marked the second-lowest total allowed by the Sun Devils this season. It was also the third time this year that ASU has held an opponent under 50 points. In its two more recent games against the Golden Bears, ASU allowed just 46.5 points per game.

- 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 then No. 20 Washington on Feb. 8, the Sun Devils have turned the ball over 22.0 times per game in the last six games, including 27 turnovers Feb. 22 at Arizona.

- ASU's Feb. 8 upset of then No. 20 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 has gone 3-4 this year against ranked opponents.

- 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. The Sun Devils rank third in the Pac-10 in rebounding this year (38.0 rpg) and second in rebounding margin (4.4).

- A total of four Sun Devils rank in the Pac-10's top 15 in rebounding (Kristen Kovesdy-10th, Amy Denson-T11th, Jill Noe-17th and Carrie Buckner-18th).

- The Sun Devils have already blocked 85 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 in the Pac-10 with 3.04 per contest. Freshman Kristen Kovesdy leads the team and is ninth in the Pac-10 in the category with 0.68 blocked shots per game. Her 19 blocked shots also put her into a tie for second on the ASU single-season list for blocks by a freshman with Tanya Morris (1984-85), while Jenny Thigpin is tied for fifth on that list with 15 blocks.

- The Sun Devils continue to lead the Pac-10 with 15.07 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 sixth in the Pac-10 with 2.61 offensive rebounds per game, while freshman Kristen Kovesdy is eighth in the league with 2.50 offensive boards per contest.

- ASU's seven new players (including six freshmen) account for 61.0 percent of the team's scoring (1091 of 1788 points) and 57.2 percent of the team's rebounding (609 of 1065 boards) this year.

- Freshman Kristen Kovesdy is leading the team and ranks seventh in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage, knocking down 50.5 percent of her shots on the year (97-192). 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 vs. Portland State, ASU's third game of the year.

- Through ASU's 28 games, sophomore Kylan Loney leads the team with 44 three-pointers, surpassing the total of 14 she had all of last year. With a total of 58 three-pointers in her career, Loney already ranks ninth on the ASU career list in the category, while her 44 treys this season are tied for seventh on the Sun Devils' single-season list with Stephanie Freeman (1997-98). Loney leads the team and is sixth in the Pac-10 at 37.6 percent from three-point land this year (44-117), while freshman Jill Noe is second on the team at 32.7 percent (33-101). Loney drilled a career-best and team-high five three-pointers in ASU's Jan. 4 win over Oregon, while Noe knocked down at least three treys in five games this year.

- The Sun Devil bench has outscored their opponents' reserves in all but nine games this year and is averaging 18.3 points per game (512 points), including 30 points Feb. 22 at Arizona. Junior Jen Albert is the team's leading scorer off the bench at 4.7 points per game, including a career-high 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting Feb. 6 vs. Washington State.

- 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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