Women's Hoops Opens Pac-10 Play This Weekend Hosting Washington State and Washington

Dec. 25, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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After taking six days off for the holidays, the Arizona State Sun Devils (6-3) return to action this weekend, opening Pacific-10 Confernce play with Washington State and 24th-ranked Washington. The Sun Devils will take on the Cougars (4-5) at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena, while the team will play host to the UW Huskies (7-2) at 7:30 p.m. on Monday night. Arizona State has won four of its last five overall games and 10 of its last 11 home games (including five this year). The team will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak in Pac-10 openers and win its first since the 1999-00 season.

Washington State brings a 4-5 overall record into Saturday night's game and has lost its last three games, while Washington, which is ranked 24th in this week's coaches' poll, is 7-2 overall and, most recently, turning in a 76-55 victory at Iowa State on Dec. 21. The Huskies open Pac-10 play at Arizona on Saturday before heading to Tempe.

ASU in Pac-10 OpenersASU holds a 2-15 all-time record in Pac-10 Conference openers since joining the league in 1986-87 and has lost its last three league starters. This year will mark just the first time in five years that ASU has not opened the Pac-10 season with Stanford. ASU won its last Pac-10 season opener to begin the 1999-00 campaign when the Sun Devils downed Stanford 74-68 in Tempe on Jan. 6, 2000.

ASU to Hold Diaper Drive on Saturday NightThe Sun Devils will host a Baby Diaper Drive to benefit Homeward Bound at its Dec. 27 league opener with Washington State. Collection bins will be available on the concourse of Wells Fargo Arena, and fans bringing donations of diapers, wipes or formula will receive free admission to the game against the Cougars.

In the SeriesArizona State holds a 23-11 advantage in the series with Washington State and has won the last 12 meetings with the Cougars (sweeps in six consecutive seasons), including both games last year - a 66-58 victory in Pullman on Jan. 11 and a 70-52 win in Tempe on Jan. 6. Arizona State holds a 14-3 advantage in games played in Tempe with the Sun Devils winning the last six meetings between the two teams at Wells Fargo Arena. WSU's last wins over the Sun Devils came during the 1996-97 season when the Cougars swept both games that year.

Washington leads the series with Arizona State 24-12, while the teams split a pair of meetings last year with each school winning on its home floor. The Huskies turned in a 69-56 victory in Seattle on Jan. 9, and the Sun Devils upset then No. 20 Washington 62-56 on Feb. 8 in Tempe. The series is knotted 9-9 in games played in Tempe, while ASU will be looking for its third straight home win over the Huskies on Monday night. The Sun Devils have won five of the last six meetings between the two teams at Wells Fargo Arena with the only loss in that stretch a 66-62 defeat on Jan. 11, 2001. That stretch of home success dates back to the 1997-98 season when Arizona State dealt then undefeated and seventh-ranked Washington a 77-76 loss on Jan. 8, 1998 in Tempe.

Home-Court AdvantageThe Sun Devils have won all five of their home games so far this season and a total of six straight games 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 five wins, ASU has won 10 of its last 11 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 54-13 record at Wells Fargo Arena in the last five seasons (1999-00 to present).

Wiping the GlassArizona State currently leads the Pac-10 Conference in rebounding offense, offensive rebounds, rebounding defense and rebounding margin. The Sun Devils have outrebounded all but two of their opponents this season (No. 9 Kansas State and No. 1 UConn) and are averaging 42.6 boards per game to just 30.3 for their opponents. On the offensive glass, the team is averaging a league-best 17.3 rebounds per game, including a season-high 28 against Western Michigan on Dec. 5. Defensively, ASU has held its opponents to just 9.3 offensive rebounds per game, including a season-low seven by George Washington Nov. 29.

Individually, sophomore Kristen Kovesdy is the team's top rebounder, tying for 12th in the Pac-10 at 5.9 rebounds per game, including a team season-high 12 in ASU's win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 10. Junior Betsy Boardman, sophomore Amy Denson and junior Carrie Buckner are all tied for second on the squad at 4.9 rebounds per contest.

Hot HandsArizona State has had two of its best three shooting efforts in its last three games and has connected at a 49-percent clip from the field in that span (83-170). The team shot a then season-best 55.2 percent (32-58) in its Dec. 10 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and then bested that two games later with a 58.2 percent effort (32-55) in its win at Holy Cross on Dec. 20. The Sun Devils shot a season-best 65.4 percent (17-26) in the first half of that game vs. the Crusaders.

Tough DefenseArizona 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 (1998-present) and is pacing the Pac-10 in rebounding defense (30.3 rpg) this season. The team also ranks fourth in the league in scoring defense this season, allowing just 59.7 points per game. ASU led the Pac-10 in three-point defense in each of the last two years and four of the last five-plus seasons, allowing opponents to shoot just 30.6 percent from beyond the arc since the start of the 1998-99 season to present (459-1498). The Sun Devils led the league in scoring and rebounding defense in both 2000-01 and 2001-02 and have held opponents to just 62.9 points and 34.1 rebounds per game over the last five-plus seasons (10,061 points and 5454 rebounds, 160 games, 1998-99 to present). In addition to leading the league in three-point defense (.297), the Sun Devils finished second in rebounding defense (33.6) and third in scoring defense (61.8) last season.

Kovesdy Coming On StrongSophomore forward Kristen Kovesdy has come on strong in the last five games, averaging 10.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in that span of games. She turned in the fourth double-double of her career and her first of the season with a career-high 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting and 12 rebounds in ASU's Dec. 10 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. She also set a career high with nine field goals made and tied her career best with 12 FG attempts and was just one rebound shy of tying her career best in the category. Kovesdy also led the team in both categories at top-ranked UConn, turning in 13 points and five rebounds Dec. 18 against the Huskies. After starting the season shooting just 19.0 percent in the first four games (4-21), Kovesdy has made 66.7 percent of her field goals in the last five (20-30). Kovesdy is leading the team and tied for 12th in the Pac-10 at 5.9 rebounds per game.

Quick Notes

- Junior Betsy Boardman led the Sun Devils in scoring for the third time this season with 16 points in ASU's Dec. 20 win at Holy Cross. She knocked down a season-best 75.0 percent of her attempts in the game (6-8), including 2-of-3 from three-point land. Boardman continues to lead the team and is tied for 12th in the league in scoring at 11.4 points per game.

- Boardman also ranks fifth in the Pac-10 with 1.5 three-pointers made per game (12 total this year) and has climbed to sixth on the ASU career list with 85 three-pointers in her three years in Tempe.

- In addition to its overall shooting, ASU has also recently found its hot hand from beyond the arc, shooting 38.9 percent (21-54) from three-point land in the last four games up from its season mark of 33.3 percent. The Sun Devils turned in season highs with seven three-pointers and 19 attempts in games against Binghamton and top-ranked Connecticut, while the team shot a season-high 44.4 percent from beyond the arc (4-9) in its Dec. 20 win at Holy Cross.

- ASU's bench continues to produce in every game and has been outscored just twice in nine games this season. The Sun Devil bench players are turning in an average of 29.7 points per game this year. Sophomore YoVanna Rosenthal is the team's leading scorer off the bench at 7.4 points per game, while true freshmen Alisha Godette (5.1 ppg), Emily Westerberg (4.9) and Aubree Johnson (4.8) are all turning solid scoring efforts in relief as well.

- Arizona State continues to lead the Pac-10 with an average of 18.8 assists per game, including a season-high 27 in its Dec. 20 win at Holy Cross. Junior Carrie Buckner leads the team with 3.4 assists per game (T6th in the Pac-10) and owns the league's fourth-best assist-to-turnover ratio (2.21). Junior Kylan Loney is second on the team and ranked ninth in the league at 3.2 assists per game. She is already ranked 10th on the ASU career list with 237 assists in her two-plus seasons and tied her career high with eight assists Dec. 20 at Holy Cross.

- With their 81-56 win at Holy Cross on Dec. 20, the Sun Devils snapped a seven-game road losing streak (dating back to the last six games of last year and a Dec. 18 loss at UConn). Counting its Pac-10 Tournament loss to Cal last year and its two neutral-site games this year in the Bahamas, ASU had lost its last 10 games away from the friendly confines of Wells Fargo Arena before its win at Holy Cross. Prior to that win, the Sun Devils' last road win came on Jan. 11, 2003 when the team turned in a 66-58 victory over Washington State in Pullman.

- The Sun Devils have allowed 70.3 points per game in their last three contests, up from a season average of just 59.7 points allowed per game. The team gave up season highs in scoring in back-to-back games, allowing 74 points by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 10 and 81 points by No. 1 Connecticut on Dec. 18.

- Sophomore YoVanna Rosenthal continues to make the most of her minutes, averaging 7.4 points, 2.7 assists and 2.1 steals in just 15.3 minutes per game. She had two of the best games of her career in the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic on Dec. 5-6, averaging 9.5 points, 3.0 steals and 2.5 assists in just 13.0 minutes per game. She also shot 52.9 percent from the field on the weekend (9-17) en route to being named to the all-tournament team. Rosenthal leads the team and is ranked ninth in the Pac-10 in steals (19).

Up NextFollowing this week's Pac-10 season-opening games with Washington State and No. 24 Washington, the Sun Devils hit the road for three tough conference games, heading to Tucson to take on intrastate rival Arizona on Friday, Jan. 2 and then to the Bay Area to take on No. 9/7 Stanford and California on Jan. 8 and 10. ASU will not return to Wells Fargo Arena until Jan. 15 and 17 when the Sun Devils will play host to UCLA and USC, respectively.

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