Women's Hoops Travels to Baylor for WNIT Second Round

March 21, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Coming off a 57-44 victory over Hawai'i in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament on Thursday night, the Arizona State Sun Devils (16-13 overall) head to Waco, Texas, to take on the Baylor Lady Bears (21-10) Sunday night at 5 p.m. Central/4 p.m. Mountain in the second round. With their victory over Hawai'i, the Sun Devils snapped a two-game losing streak and earned their first win in the WNIT after losing in the first round in 2000, the team's only other appearance in that tournament. As the Sun Devils head to Waco on Sunday, the Sun Devils, who tied the school record for home wins on Thursday night, will be looking to snap a six-game road losing streak and win a second postseason game for the first time since 1981 when the team went 2-1 and lost in the championship game of the NWIT.

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. Baylor brings a 21-10 overall record into Sunday's game after edging Northern Iowa 58-56 on Thursday night in Waco. The Lady Bears, who made NCAA Tournament appearances in 2001 and 2002, finished seventh in the Big 12 Conference with an 8-8 record and have won four of their last five games, including Thursday night's win over Northern Iowa.

In the SeriesSunday will mark the first meeting between Arizona State and Baylor. The Sun Devils have a 10-21 all-time record vs. teams from the Big 12 Conference, most recently defeating Kansas and Kansas State last year. ASU's 76-58 victory over then unranked Kansas State in last year's Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, marked the first loss of the season for the Wildcats who went on to win 14 straight games and climbed as high as ninth in the AP poll. Sunday's game at Baylor will also mark ASU's first foray into the state of Texas since the Sun Devils defeated Texas-San Antonio and fell to then 25th-ranked Texas during the 1999-000 season.

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).

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 6-7 record in the school's eight postseason appearances (1-1 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.

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.

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 33.5 rebounds per game. The Sun Devils are also ranked third in the league in scoring defense, allowing just 61.0 points per contest. In its last four games, the Sun Devils have held their opponents to just 50.0 points per game, including a season-low 44 points by Hawai'i on Thursday night. 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 33.5 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. 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 29.7 percent from three-point land (77-259), while in the last 13 games, the Sun Devils have held their opponents to just 27.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc (33-119).

There's No Place Like HomeThursday night's win vs. Hawai'i marked ASU's 13th home win of the season, which ties the school record for home wins in a single season, a mark set by last year's team. Last year, ASU turned in a 13-2 mark at home, while this year's team holds a 13-4 record at Wells Fargo Arena (6-3 in Pac-10 games). The Sun Devils also turned in some stellar stats in their regular-season home games. At home, ASU is averaging 67.2 points a game and shooting 41.0 percent from the field (400-976) and 34.4 percent from three-point land (72-209). In comparison, in games away from Wells Fargo Arena, the team has turned in a 3-9 record (3-8 away, 0-1 neutral) and has lost its last six games. On the road, ASU is averaging 58.6 points per game and shooting 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, an honorable-mention All-Pac-10 selection this year, has turned up her game a notch in the second half of the season, averaging 8.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per contest in the last 17 games. She has scored at least 12 points in five of the last nine 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.

Buckner has been one of the most consistent players for the Sun Devils this year, ranking fifth in scoring (8.0 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 2.14 steals per game, while with 62 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 73 offensive rebounds which ranks sixth in the league (2.52 per game). Despite suffering a sprained ankle on Sunday and missing the week of practice, Buckner played 27 minutes Thursday night vs. Hawai'i, turning in four points, six rebounds, three steals, an assist and a blocked shots in addition to playing her usual tough defense.

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 and a Pac-10 All-Freshman selection, ranks first on the team and 12th in the Pac-10 in scoring at 12.6 boards per contest. Noe has led the team in scoring in 13 of the last 24 games, including a career-best 23 points Jan. 2 vs. Oregon State and again Jan. 11 at Washington State and a team-best 18 points Thursday night vs. Hawai'i. Noe is also third on the team and 17th in the Pac-10 in rebounding (5.9 rpg). Freshman forward Kristen Kovesdy, an honorable-mention Pac-10 All-Freshman honoree, leads the team and ranks 10th in the Pac-10 in rebounding (6.2 rpg), while fellow freshman forward Amy Denson, a first-team league all-rookie selection, 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 10.0 points per game, while Kovesdy is third on the team at 9.6 rpg. Kovesdy also leads the team and ranks seventh in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage at 50.7 percent (103-203).

Just Say NoeFreshman guard Jill Noe has done it all for the Sun Devils this year, pacing the team in scoring (12.6 ppg) and free throw percentage (.816). A first-team Pac-10 All-Freshman selection, Noe also ranks second on the team in three-point field goal percentage (.343), steals (1.9 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 366 points, she is second on the ASU single-season list for scoring by a freshman and is also threatening the school freshman records for steals (tied for third with 55), assists (second with 81) and rebounds (fourth with 172).

Noe, who has been slowed by a hip flexor/groin strain over the second half of the year, has scored in double figures 20 times in 29 games this year (with five 20-point games) and has paced the team in scoring 14 times this season, including a game-high 18 points Thursday night vs. Hawai'i. 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.

This year, Noe also 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, earning the weekly award on Dec. 16 after coming 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 (17 pts, 9 rbs, 9 asts) and again on Jan. 6 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.

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 68.6 percent on the year (429-625). 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 a 92.3 percent outing (12-13) on Thursday night vs. Hawai'i and have shot 70 percent or better from the line in 13 of 29 games. Freshman Jill Noe leads the team and is fifth in the Pac-10 at 81.6 percent (115-141), 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 tied its season low with 13 turnovers in Thursday night's victory over Hawai'i. It marked the sixth time this year that ASU has turned in 17 turnovers or fewer in a game.

- Freshman Jill Noe, ASU's leading free throw shooter, has knocked down 94.4 percent of her attempts from the charity stripe in the last four games (17-18), including a 7-of-8 effort vs. California in the Pac-10 Tournament and a 4-of-4 showing Thursday night vs. Hawai'i.

- Noe tied her career high with four three-pointers in ASU's victory over Hawai'i on Thursday, marking her first three-pointer in over a month. It was the sixth time this year that Noe has knocked down at least three treys in a game.

- 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 99 assists this year for a career total of 203 which ties Crystal Cobb (1989-94) for 10th on the ASU career list.

- The Sun Devils rank third in the Pac-10 in rebounding this year (38.3 rpg) and second in rebounding margin (4.8), while 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 blocked 88 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 3.0 per contest. Freshman Kristen Kovesdy leads the team and is ninth in the Pac-10 in the category with 0.69 blocked shots per game. Her 20 blocked shots are the second-best single-season performance by an ASU freshman, while Jenny Thigpin is tied for fifth on that list with 15 blocks.

- The Sun Devils continue to lead the Pac-10 with 15.17 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 2.52 offensive rebounds per game, while freshman Kristen Kovesdy is eighth in the league with 2.51 offensive boards per contest.

- ASU's seven new players (including six freshmen) account for 61.5 percent of the team's scoring (1134 of 1845 points) and 55.9 percent of the team's rebounding (621 of 1110 boards) this year.

- Freshman Kristen Kovesdy is leading the team and ranks seventh in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage, knocking down 50.7 percent of her shots on the year (103-203). 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.

- 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 36.7 percent from three-point land this year (44-120), while freshman Jill Noe is second on the team at 34.3 percent (37-108). Loney drilled a career-best and team-high five three-pointers in ASU's Jan. 4 win over Oregon.

- 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.

- This year, Arizona State has started three true freshmen and two sophomores. ASU returned 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 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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