Women's Hoops Opens Exhibition Season Thursday Night at Wells Fargo Arena

Nov. 4, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Coming off a school-record four consecutive postseason appearances, eighth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne and her Arizona State Sun Devils hit the court for the first time in the 2003-04 season Thursday night with an exhibition game vs. Latvian Select, a traveling team from Riga, Latvia. The Latvians opened their foreign tour with a 87-71 loss at UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 3 and play at Arizona (Nov. 4) and Northern Arizona (Nov. 5) before heading to Tempe. The Sun Devils will play their second and final exhibition tune-up on Saturday, Nov. 15 against the West Coast All-Stars, a traveling team of former college stars, before opening the regular season Friday, Nov. 21 vs. Akron at 7:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.

This year, Arizona State, which is ranked 28th by womenscollegehoops.com, returns four starters (with the loss of sophomore Jill Noe, a 2003 Pac-10 All-Freshman selection who led the team in scoring last year, to an ACL tear) and eight letterwinners from its 2002-03 squad which turned in a 16-14 record, upset three ranked opponents and advanced to the second round of the 2003 Women's National Invitation Tournament. The Sun Devils also regain the services of junior Betsy Boardman, who started all 64 games of her first two years and missed all of last season with an ACL tear, and add a recruiting class of three true freshmen that was ranked as high as eighth in the nation. The 2003-04 Sun Devil active roster is still a young one featuring just one senior, four juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen.

ASU in the Exhibition SeasonThe Sun Devils are 8-6 in exhibition games under eighth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne. Last year, the Sun Devils split their exhibition contests, defeating the University of Mathias Bell Banska Bystrica, a traveling team from Slovakia, 101-57 on Nov. 7 and falling to the West Coast All-Stars, a team of former college players, 78-74 on Nov. 14.

A Look Ahead at the Season OpenerArizona State tips off the regular season in two weeks, playing host to Akron on Friday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. That Nov. 21 game is part of an ASU sports doubleheader with the Sun Devil volleyball team taking on Washington State at 5 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.

Akron returns one starter and eight letterwinners from its 2-26 team last year, including junior guard Lindsay Hemmelgarn who averaged 9.3 points per game last season. ASU holds a 1-0 record in the series with Akron, earning an 82-43 victory last year on Dec. 18 in Akron. The Sun Devils hold a 6-1 record against schools from the Mid-American Conference, winning three games over MAC opponents last year (Akron, Kent State and Northern Illinois).

Home-Court AdvantageThe Sun Devils will play five of their first seven games of the year at Wells Fargo Arena where the team has won a school-record 13 games in each of the last two seasons. Last year, ASU turned in a 13-4 record which matched the school-record 13 victories the 2001-02 team had (13-2). The Sun Devils won their first five home games in 2002-03 to set a school record with 13 straight home wins, a streak that dated back to the last eight home games of the 2001-02 season. Arizona State has turned in a 49-13 record in the friendly confines of Wells Fargo Arena in the last four seasons.

Deja Vu All Over Again...For the second year in a row, the Sun Devils head into the season after losing their top returning scorer to an ACL tear in the preseason. Sophomore sensation Jill Noe, a first-team Pac-10 All-Freshman team selection last year, will miss the 2003-04 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee on Oct. 8 in preseason skillwork.

Last year, ASU lost junior guard/forward Betsy Boardman to the same injury in her right knee on Oct. 13. Boardman, who started all 65 games over her first two years, was Arizona State's top returning scorer and rebounder heading into last season. A two-time invitee to the USA Basketball Junior National Team Trials, she had led the team in steals in each of the last two years. Boardman averaged 10.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game and shot 35.6 percent from three-point land (73-205) in her first two seasons. ASU also spent the 2002-03 season without forward Alexis Tate to season-ending and, ultimately, career-ending knee injuries.

Noe burst onto the Pac-10 Conference scene last year as a true freshman, starting 29 of 30 games. She became the first Sun Devil rookie to lead the team in scoring since 1999, averaging 12.6 points per game, and finished second on the team in three-point shooting (35.5 percent), assists (2.7 assists per game) and steals (1.9 steals per game). She also became the first true freshman in the league to be named the Pac-10 Player of the Week twice in a season since Stanford's Nicole Powell did it in 2000-01, earning the recognition on Dec. 16 and Jan. 6.

Tough SlateArizona State's non-conference schedule has been ranked as the ninth-toughest in the country by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association-Summerville RPI. In its nine non-conference games this season, the Sun Devils will play four teams that went to the 2003 NCAA Tournament, including two-time defending NCAA Champion Connecticut, and five teams that finished first in their respective leagues last year. ASU will play NCAA second-rounder Kansas State in the first game of the Junkanoo Jam Nov. 28 and either Penn State or George Washington in its second game. Last year, the Lady Lions finished first in the Big Ten Conference and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, while the Colonials won the Atlantic-10 Conference and went to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen last year. In the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic, ASU has a chance to play Montana State, which tied for first in the Big Sky Conference last year, in its second game, while the Sun Devils will wrap up the non-conference season with games at UConn on Dec. 18 and Holy Cross on Dec. 20. UConn has won at least a share of the last 10 regular-season Big East titles and a total of four NCAA titles, including the last two, while Holy Cross finished first in the Patriot League and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament last year.

Turner Thorne Second in All-Time Wins at ASUWith a 106-100 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, 2003 and needs 28 wins to tie the school record for wins. With ASU's victory over Arizona on Dec. 30 last year, the 2001 Pac-10 Coach of the Year and District 8 Regional 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, advanced to the NCAA Tournament and won the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament Championship.

ASU Picked Fourth, Fifth in Preseason Pac-10 PollsArizona State has been picked to finish fourth in the Pac-10 Conference by the media and fifth by the league's coaches. It marked the third time in four years that ASU has been picked to finish in the upper half of the Pac-10 by the league's coaches.

A Look Back at the 2002-03 SeasonWith a young team that featured three true freshmen and two sophomores in the starting lineup, the 2002-03 Arizona State women's basketball team turned in a 16-14 overall record and made a school-record fourth consecutive postseason appearance. Arizona State earned a bid to the 2003 Women's National Invitation Tournament, its second appearance in that tournament, to become the first team in school history to advance to the postseason in four straight years (WNIT in 2000 & 2003, NCAA in 2001 & 2002). The Sun Devils finished eighth in the Pac-10 with a 7-11 conference record. The young Sun Devils also tied the school record for home wins with a 13-4 home mark, including upsets of three ranked opponents, and turned in the team's third consecutive winning season. Carrie Buckner was named honorable-mention All-Pac-10, while the Sun Devils had three players named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team including first-teamers Jill Noe and Amy Denson and honorable-mention honoree Kristen Kovesdy.

Youth MovementASU's top three scorers and rebounders in 2002-03 were true freshmen. Jill Noe led the team in scoring at 12.6 points per game to become the first freshman to lead the Sun Devils in scoring since Theresa Jantzen accomplished the feat in 1998-99. Kristen Kovesdy became the first freshman to lead the team in rebounding (6.1 rpg) since Molly Tuter in 1993-94. Last season, Noe, Kovesdy and Denson all finished in the top 10 in points and rebounds by an ASU freshman. Noe finished second in points and assists, third in steals and fourth in rebounding, while Kovesdy finished second in rebounding and blocks, sixth in scoring and 10th in steals. Denson was third in rebounding and fifth in scoring. ASU's newcomers accounted for 62.3 percent of the team's scoring (1188 of 1907 points) and 56.2 percent of its rebounding (638 of 1135 rebounds) in 2002-03.

Pac-10 Postseason TournamentThe Pac-10 Conference plays the third annual State Farm Women's Basketball Tournament March 5-8, 2004, at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. Arizona State won the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament in 2002, upsetting second-ranked Stanford in the event, which was held at McArthur Court in Eugene, Ore., while the Cardinal won the tournament last year in San Jose. A total of nine games will be played in the Pac-10 Tournament with the champion earning the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

March Madness in TempeArizona State and Wells Fargo Arena have been selected as one of 16 host sites for the first and second rounds of the 2004 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. ASU will play host to games on March 20 and 22 in Tempe. If the Sun Devils qualify for the NCAA Tournament in 2003-04, they will get the opportunity to play at home for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. It will mark the first NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament games at Wells Fargo Arena since the Sun Devils hosted first-round games in both 1982 and 1983.

Tickets for the 2004 NCAA Tournament will go on sale in December with more information to be available on the official website of Arizona State Athletics at www.thesundevils.com or by calling the ASU ticket office at (480) 965-2381.

Arizona State and Wells Fargo Arena have also been selected as the host of the 2005 NCAA Women's Basketball West Regional.

Up NextAfter opening the regular season with a pair of home games against Akron (Nov. 21) and Grambling State (Nov. 23), the Sun Devils hit the road, traveling to Grand Bahama Island for the Junkanoo Jam over Thanksgiving weekend. ASU will take on Kansas State in its first game in the Bahamas on Friday, Nov. 28 and will either play Penn State or George Washington in its second game on Saturday, Nov. 29. The Sun Devils return home after their stay in the Bahamas to play host to the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic Dec. 5-6 in Tempe, a tournament featuring ASU, Binghamton, Montana State and Western Michigan.

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