Women's Hoops Hosts Wells Fargo Holiday Classic This Weekend

Dec. 3, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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2003 WELLS FARGO HOLIDAY CLASSIC TOURNAMENT SCHEDULEDec. 5 & 6, 2003 * Wells Fargo Arena * Tempe, Ariz.Western Michigan Broncos (2-2) vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (2-2) * 6 p.m. MSTBinghamton Bearcats (3-1) vs. Montana State Bobcats (4-0) * 8 p.m. MSTFriday, Dec. 5, 2003 * ASU Game on AZ-TV and NBC 1190 AM

Consolation Game * 4 p.m. MSTChampionship Game * 6:30 p.m. MSTSaturday, Dec. 6, 2003 * ASU Game on NBC 1190 AM

Coming off a pair of losses at last weekend's Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas, the Arizona State Sun Devils (2-2) return to Tempe to play host to the 2003 Wells Fargo Holiday Classic on Friday-Saturday, Dec. 5-6 at Wells Fargo Arena. Arizona State will be looking to claim its third consecutive title in the team's own tournament and will take on 2003 Mid-American Conference Tournament champion Western Michigan (2-2) in the first round. ASU will play at 6 p.m. on Friday night followed by Binghamton (3-1) vs. Montana State (4-0) at 8 p.m. in the nightcap. On Saturday, the consolation game will tip off at 4 p.m. followed by the championship game at 6:30 p.m.

ASU Tournament HistoryThe Sun Devils have compiled a 35-12 record in their own tournament, reaching the championship game in 22 of 23 tournaments. ASU has captured the title in its own tournament 12 times, including the last two and three of the last four tournaments. Last year, ASU won the 2002 Wells Fargo Holiday Classic with wins over Portland State and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Kylan Loney was named the 2003 Tournament MVP, while Jen Albert and Amy Denson were both named to the all-tournament team.

Home-Court AdvantageThe Sun Devils 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. Including this year's wins over Akron and Grambling State, ASU has won seven of its last eight home games dating back to a Jan. 23 win over then No. 19 Arizona last season. 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 51-13 record at Wells Fargo Arena in the last four-plus seasons (1999-00 to present).

Tough SlateThis weekend will mark ASU's third and possible fourth straight games against teams that won a league title or advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year. In its nine non-conference games this season, the Sun Devils play five teams that went to the 2003 NCAA Tournament, including two-time defending NCAA Champion Connecticut, and six teams that finished first or won their respective league tournament last year. ASU played NCAA second-rounder Kansas State in the first game of the Junkanoo Jam and Atlantic 10 champion and NCAA Sweet Sixteen participant George Washington in its second game. In the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic, ASU will play 2003 Mid-American Tournament champion and NCAA participant Western Michigan in the first round and has a chance to play Montana State, which tied for first in the Big Sky Conference last year, in its second game. The Sun Devils wrap up the non-conference season with games at Connecticut 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 went to the NCAA Tournament last year. ASU's non-conference schedule has been ranked as the ninth-toughest in the country by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association-Summerville RPI.

In the SeriesArizona State holds a 1-1 record in the series with Western Michigan, dropping the last game to the Broncos 77-63 on Nov. 24, 2001 in the first game of the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. ASU went on to win its next two games of the tournament and win the Paradise Jam that season. The Sun Devils won the only meeting between the two teams in Tempe, downing WMU 79-69 on Dec. 31, 1993. ASU also holds a 6-1 record against teams from WMU's Mid-American Conference. The Sun Devils have won each of their last five games against teams from that league, including an 80-48 win over Akron on Nov. 21 to open this season.

In the second game of the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic, ASU will play either Binghamton or Montana State. The Sun Devils have never played Binghamton and hold a 1-0 record against teams from the America East Conference. Arizona State is 3-0 all time against Montana State and 35-8 against teams from the Big Sky Conference. The Sun Devils' last meeting against a team from the Big Sky was at last year's Wells Fargo Holiday Classic where the Sun Devils downed Portland State 72-53 on Nov. 29 in the first round of the tournament.

Notes from the Junkanoo JamArizona State lost both of its games in the 2003 Junkanoo Jam, held Nov. 28-29 at St. George High School in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island...The Sun Devils fell to No. 9/8 Kansas State 59-50 in the first game and to George Washington 58-45 in the second game...junior guard Kylan Loney scored a season-best 13 points to lead ASU in the Kansas State game...ASU struggled on offense in the first half, shooting just 12.5 percent and making only four field goals and trailed 28-16 at halftime...in the second half, ASU turned in a 50-percent effort from the field (12-24), and after trailing by as 23 points with six minutes to go, the team forced K-State into 10 of its 31 turnovers and scored the final 14 points of the game...junior guard/forward Betsy Boardman finished with 10 points including her first two three-pointers of the season...freshman Aubree Johnson led the team with eight rebounds, while junior Carrie Buckner and Boardman each turned in four steals...in the second game, freshman forward Emily Westerberg scored 11 points, while Boardman and Johnson each added eight points...Johnson led the team in rebounding for the second game in a row with six boards and had a team-high four assists...ASU started slow again in the first half but kept the game close until George Washington turned in a 5-0 run late in the half to go up by six points and led 27-21 at halftime...after falling behind 10 points, the Sun Devils turned in a 12-2 run to tie the game at 40 with 7:47 remaining, a stretch that included a pair of baskets by Westerberg...ASU could not get over the hump, and George Washington scored 14 of the next 16 points in the game to take a 42-56 lead with 2:17 to play and secure the 58-45 victory...ASU held its two opponents to just 54.0 points per game and forced 53 turnovers but scored only 47.5 points and shots just 31.5 percent from the field in the two games (34-108).

Deja Vu All Over Again...For the second year in a row, the Sun Devils headed into the season after losing their top returning scorer to an ACL tear in the preseason. Sophomore Jill Noe, a Pac-10 All-Freshman first-teamer last year, will miss the 2003-04 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee 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 her first two seasons. 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 DefenseIn the last five years, Arizona State has established itself as one of the top defensive teams in the Pac-10 Conference. The Sun Devils have led the league in at least one defensive category in each of the last five years, including three-point defense last year (.297). ASU has led the Pac-10 in three-point defense in each of the last two years and four of the last five seasons, allowing opponents to shoot just 30.1 percent from beyond the arc in that five-year span (426-1414). The Sun Devils led the league in scoring and rebounding defense in both 2000-01 and 2001-02 and have held opponents to just 62.4 points and 34.3 rebounds per game over the last five seasons (9426 points and 5181 rebounds, 151 games). In addition to leading the league in three-point defense, the Sun Devils finished second in rebounding defense (33.6) and third in scoring defense (61.8) last season.

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