Women's Hoops Travels to No. 25 Arizona on Friday Night

Dec. 31, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Off to the second 2-0 Pac-10 start in school history, the Arizona State Sun Devils continue league play later this week, traveling to Tucson, Ariz., to take on the 25th-ranked Arizona Wildcats on Friday night. ASU's game with its intrastate rival will tip off at 7 p.m. Mountain Standard Time at the McKale Center and can be heard locally on NBC 1190 AM. Following their sweep of Washington State and then No. 24 Washington last weekend, the Sun Devils have won three consecutive games and six of their last seven. ASU heads to Tucson looking for its first Pac-10 road win of the year and its first since January, while the team will also be aiming to win its sixth game in eight meetings with Arizona and its first in Tucson since 2001. Arizona, which climbed back into this week's coaches' poll at 25th, brings a 10-2 record and a nine-game winning streak into Friday night's game. The Wildcats opened the Pac-10 season with a 2-0 mark with wins over Washington and Washington State last weekend and have won 20 straight games at McKale Center.

In the SeriesArizona State holds a 34-23 advantage in the all-time series with Arizona, including a 16-11 advantage in games played in Tucson. The Sun Devils have won five of the last seven games in the series with Arizona, while the Wildcats have claimed the last two contests in Tucson. Last year, the two teams split a pair of meetings with each school winning on its home floor. ASU turned in a 73-58 victory over the then 19th-ranked Wildcats on Jan. 23 in Tempe, while Arizona earned a 72-52 win on Feb. 22 in Tucson. ASU last earned a victory in Tucson on Feb. 24, 2001 when the Pac-10 Co-Champion Sun Devils downed the Wildcats 70-67 in overtime.

The series with Arizona is the longest for the Sun Devils and dates back to the 1975-76 season, the first year of varsity women's basketball at Arizona State (although the team played another seven games before that year with UA winning five of seven). ASU snapped a 14-game losing streak to the Wildcats in 2000-01 with its first season sweep since 1991-92. The Sun Devils won 18 of the first 20 meetings, including a streak of 16 games that encompassed eight full seasons (1978-79 to 1985-86).

Arizona ConnectionArizona State sophomore Jenny Thigpin was a high school teammate of Arizona redshirt sophomore Shawntinice Polk at Hanford (Calif.) High School. Thigpin, a 6-2 forward, and Polk, a 6-5 center, led the Hanford Lady Pups to three straight league titles (1999-01) and the 2001 CIF Division II state championship.

Turner Thorne Gives Birth to Third SonArizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne gave birth to her third son at 9:20 a.m. Tuesday morning at a Valley hospital. Quinn Joseph Thorne, the third son for Turner Thorne (37) and her husband, Will Thorne, weighed 7 pounds and 11 ounces and measured 20 3/4 inches long. Quinn joins brothers Conor (4), who was born on Feb. 9, 1999, and Liam (2), who was born on March 11, 2001. Turner Thorne coached the Sun Devils to their 84-81 overtime victory over 24th-ranked Washington on Monday night and then went into the hospital to have Quinn on Tuesday morning. The eighth-year Sun Devil coach has coached full-time during each of her three pregnancies.

ASU in Pac-10 OpenersWith wins over Washington State and Washington last week at Wells Fargo Arena, Arizona State has opened its Pac-10 Conference slate with a 2-0 record for the second time since joining the league in 1986-87. ASU,s win over Washington State on Dec. 27 was the team's first win in its Pac-10 opener since the 1999-00 season, snapping a three-game losing streak in league starters. The game with the Cougars marked just the first time in five years that ASU had not opened the Pac-10 season with Stanford. The Sun Devils also won their first two Pac-10 games to start the 1999-00 league slate, downing Stanford 74-68 on Jan. 6, 2000 and then defeating California 69-59 on Jan. 8 at Wells Fargo Arena.

Notes from the Washington GameSophomore Kristen Kovesdy scored a career-high 29 points and stole the long inbounds pass as time expired in overtime to give Arizona State an 84-81 win over Washington Monday night at Wells Fargo Arena.

Kovesdy made 12 of 14 field goals (both career bests) and 5 of 7 free throws and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds for the Sun Devils who won their eighth straight home game. Junior Kylan Loney made two free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining to secure the victory, the Sun Devils' sixth in their last seven games.

Washington erased an eight-point deficit in the final 5:21, capped by senior Giuliana Mendiola's layup with 1.6 seconds left to send the game into overtime.

Arizona State led 78-77 when Mendiola - who led the Huskies with 26 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists - committed her fifth foul on junior Carrie Buckner with 1:54 left. Buckner made 1 of 2 free throws, but Kovesdy made both of hers 20 seconds later to give Arizona State an 81-77 lead. Mendiola's sister, Gioconda, made two free throws with 1:23 left and senior Andrea Lalum made a 16-footer with 36 seconds left to cut the lead to 82-81. The Sun Devils worked the clock down to five seconds when junior Betsy Boardman missed a shot and redshirt freshman Jill Bell knocked the loose ball out of bounds. Gioconda Mendiola fouled Loney with 2.2 seconds left to set up the final points.

Boardman had 15 points and five assists for the Sun Devils. Freshman Emily Westerberg tied her career high with 11 points, while sophomore Amy Denson also added 11 points. Lalum had 21 points and Bell added 12 for Washington.

Arizona State outscored Washington 38-8 in the paint despite getting outrebounded 40-34. The Sun Devils also missed 13 of 39 free throws on the night.

Against Ranked OpponentsFriday night's game against Arizona, which is ranked 25th in this week's USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll, will mark ASU's second straight game against a ranked opponent and its fourth this season. The Sun Devils are 1-2 against ranked opponents this year, downing then No. 24 Washington 84-81 in overtime on Dec. 27 and falling to then No. 9/8 Kansas State 59-50 on Nov. 28 and then at No. 1/1 UConn 81-55 on Dec. 28. ASU turned in a 3-4 mark against ranked opponents last season, turning in upsets of three ranked teams, including wins over No. 14 Georgia, No. 19 Arizona and No. 20 Washington.

Kovesdy Coming On StrongSophomore forward Kristen Kovesdy turned in a career outing in Monday's night victory over No. 24 Washington. She scored a career-high 29 points on 12-of-14 shooting (also both career bests) and grabbing nine rebounds, just missing the fifth double-double of her career. Kovesdy's 29 points also marked the most for a Sun Devil since two-time All-Pac-10 performer Amanda Levens scored 29 in a Nov. 25, 2001 win over Kansas State.

Kovesdy has come on strong of late, averaging 15.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in the last five contests. She turned in the fourth double-double of her career and her first of the season with a then 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 was also just one rebound shy of tying her career best in the category. Kovesdy led the team in both categories at top-ranked UConn, turning in 13 points and five rebounds Dec. 18 against the Huskies and paced the team with 10 rebounds in its Dec. 27 win over Washington State.

After starting the season shooting just 19.0 percent in the first four games (4-21), Kovesdy has made 65.3 percent of her field goals in the last seven (34-52). Kovesdy is now ranked fifth in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage at 52.1 percent (38-73). She also leads the team and is ranked 11th in the Pac-10 at 6.5 rebounds per game.

Home-Court AdvantageThe Sun Devils have won all seven of their home games so far this season and a total of eight 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 seven wins, ASU has won 12 of its last 13 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 56-13 record (.812) at Wells Fargo Arena in the last five seasons (1999-00 to present).

Wiping the GlassArizona State currently leads the Pac-10 Conference in offensive rebounds, rebounding defense and rebounding margin and is second in the league in rebounding offense, just two rebounds behind Stanford. The Sun Devils have outrebounded all but four of their opponents this season and are averaging 41.3 boards per game to just 32.1 for their opponents. On the offensive glass, the team is averaging a league-best 16.4 rebounds per game, including a season-high 28 against Western Michigan on Dec. 5. Defensively, ASU has held its opponents to just 9.9 offensive rebounds per game, including a season-low seven by George Washington Nov. 29.

Individually, sophomore Kristen Kovesdy is the team's top rebounder and ranks 11th in the Pac-10 at 6.5 rebounds per game, including a team season-high 12 in ASU's win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 10. In the last two games, Kovesdy has averaged 9.5 rebounds, leading the team in the category with 10 vs. Washington State on Dec. 27 and nine vs. Washington on dec. 29. Sophomore Amy Denson is second on the team and tied for 20th in the league at 5.2 boards per game, while juniors Betsy Boardman (4.9) and Carrie Buckner (4.5) trail closely.

Hot HandsArizona State has recently found its hot hand from beyond the arc, shooting 39.5 percent (32-81) from three-point land in the last six games. The Sun Devils are now ranked third in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting, knocking down 34.8 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc (48-138). The Sun Devils tied the school record with nine three-pointers (9-22) in their Dec. 27 victory over Washington State, a feat that has been accomplished four other times in school history. ASU turned in then season highs with seven three-pointers and 19 attempts in games against both 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.

Junior Kylan Loney leads the team and is ranked seventh in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting, knocking down 40.5 percent of her attempts from beyond the arc (17-42). She has also recently found her touch, tying her career highs with five treys and nine three-point attempts Dec. 27 vs. Washington State. After starting the season shooting just 15.4 percent from the three-point line (2-13) in the first five games, Loney has shot 51.7 percent in the last six tilts (15-29).

Loney and junior Betsy Boardman, who is second on the team in three-point shooting (.381, 16-42), have been especially hot in the last three games, shooting a combined 58.3 percent from beyond the arc (Loney 8-14, Boardman 6-10).

Quick Notes

- ASU's overtime victory over then No. 24 Washington on Monday night was its first overtime contest since turning in a 70-67 overtime win at Arizona on Feb. 24, 2001. Sun Devil head coach Charli Turner Thorne is now 5-3 in overtime games in her career at ASU. Ironically, Turner Thorne led the Sun Devils to a 72-69 OT victory over Washington on Feb. 6, 1999, three days before she had her first son, Conor, while this year, she guided her team to an 84-81 OT victory over the Huskies about 11 hours before giving birth to her third son, Quinn, on Tuesday. And for those of you scoring at home, the Sun Devils also went into overtime in Turner Thorne's first game back after having Conor in 1999, losing 76-67 to Arizona at Wells Fargo Arena on Feb. 13, 1999.

- On Friday night in Tucson, the Sun Devils will be looking to snap a five-game Pac-10 road losing streak. ASU was 1-7 in league road games last year with the Sun Devils' last Pac-10 road win coming on Jan. 11, 2003 when the team turned in a 66-58 victory over Washington State in Pullman, Wash. With their 81-56 win at Holy Cross on Dec. 20, the Sun Devils snapped a seven-game overall 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.

- The Sun Devils had a season-low 13 turnovers in their win over Washington on Monday night. After having seven turnovers in the first half, ASU had just six in the final 25 minutes of the game (second half and overtime) and went for a stretch of almost eight minutes in the second half without a miscue (11:12 to 3:22).

- While ASU had 19 turnovers in its Dec. 27 win over Washington State, the team turned the ball over just six times in its second-half comeback. ASU also tied its season high with six blocked shots in the game vs. the Cougars.

- Arizona State continues to lead the Pac-10 with an average of 18.9 assists per game, including a season-high 27 in its Dec. 20 win at Holy Cross. Junior Kylan Loney leads the team and is tied for ninth in the Pac-10 with 3.2 assists per game, while junior Carrie Buckner is just behind at 3.1 dishes per contest. Buckner also owns the league's fourth-best assist-to-turnover ratio (2.43). Loney is already ranked ninth on the ASU career list with 243 assists in her two-plus seasons and tied her career high with eight assists Dec. 20 at Holy Cross.

- ASU is also second in the league in steals with 11.5 thefts per game with Buckner tied for ninth in the league at 2.0 spg.

- Junior Betsy Boardman continues to lead the team and is 11th in the league in scoring at 11.7 points per game. In the last three games, Boardman has averaged 14.0 points, 5.7 assists and 2.3 steals per contest. 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.

- A total of three Sun Devils rank in the Pac-10's top 20 for scoring this season with Boardman at 11th (11.7 points per game), junior Kylan Loney at 18th (10.4 ppg) and sophomore Kristen Kovesdy at 20th (9.5 ppg).

- ASU's bench continues to produce in every game and has been outscored just three times in 11 games this season. The Sun Devil bench players are turning in an average of 26.9 points per game this year. Sophomore YoVanna Rosenthal is the team's leading scorer off the bench at 6.6 points per game, while true freshmen Emily Westerberg (5.0), Aubree Johnson (4.5) and Alisha Godette (4.4 ppg) are all turning solid scoring efforts in relief as well.

- The Sun Devils have shot 46.8 percent from the field in the last three games (81-173) up from their season effort of 42.3 percent. 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.

- Sophomore YoVanna Rosenthal continues to make the most of her minutes, averaging 6.6 points, 2.4 assists and 1.8 steals in just 14.3 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.

- After starting three true freshmen and two sophomores last year, the 2003-04 Sun Devil active roster is still a very young one featuring just one senior, four juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen.

Up NextThe 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 play host to UCLA and USC, respectively.

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