Westerberg Leads Team with 16 Points in Preseason Scrimmage

Nov. 1, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. -

By Brian Gomez - TheSunDevils.com

If Saturday morning's intrasquad scrimmage was any indication, life without sophomore playmaker Jill Noe might not be that bad this season for Arizona State's women's basketball team.

As Noe underwent treatment on her surgically-repaired left knee along the sideline at Wells Fargo Arena, the Sun Devils used a balanced scoring attack to show they have more than enough depth to compensate for her absence.

Freshman forward Emily Westerberg led the way with a team-high 16 points, and junior guard/forward Betsy Boardman added 13 points in her biggest test since returning from the torn anterior cruciate ligament that caused her to miss all of last season.

'It was probably a little better than we expected,' said ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne, whose team will open its exhibition season Thursday against Latvian Select, an Eastern European traveling team. 'All of the things we've been working on kind of got exposed, but there were also a lot of other really good things that came out in the game that we didn't see in practice.'

Running their new motion offense for the first time Saturday, the Sun Devils showed good shot selection and looked smooth in transition. On defense, they created turnovers by pressuring beyond the arc and managed to hold their own on the boards.

ASU was down for most of the first half before taking a 27-24 lead at the break on the strength of Boardman's three-pointer in the closing minute. The Sun Devils trailed down the stretch, but won on their last possession when Boardman drained a three-pointer at the buzzer.

'I told Jill we're going to make up for her being gone,' Boardman said. 'We learned a lot about what we need to work on and what we need to do, and what we already have.'

With three weeks left before the start of the regular season, Turner Thorne said her team needs to improve its transition defense and iron out the fine points in its offense, which contains more movement and less structure than last season.

Turner Thorne likes her team's depth, even without Noe and the hobbled Kristen Kovesdy, claiming everyone on her 12-player active roster could compete for a starting spot.

'In the Pac-10, everybody knows each other inside and out,' Turner Thorne said. 'We're trying to utilize all our talent and ability. We're trying to play off each other instead of having so much structure.'

Although Westerberg stole the spotlight Saturday, all three of ASU's newcomers made their presence felt. In the first half, freshman guard Alisha Godette banked in a shot off the glass. Freshman forward Aubree Johnson later took a charge during her team's late rally.

Westerberg showed the type of versatility that made her the nation's 34th-best high school prospect, according to All-Game Sports. She sank a three-pointer from the top of the key in the first half, then scored six points on left-handed hook shots after the break.

'It's been tough not having Jill, but we all want to do so well for her,' Westerberg said. 'Everyone is doing a really good job of picking up just a little piece of her game, and putting it in all of our games.'

Reach the reporter at brian.gomez@asu.edu.

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