Women's Hoops Plays Host to UCLA and USC This Week

Jan. 13, 2004

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Coming off a split on their trip to the Bay Area last week, the Arizona State Sun Devils return home to Wells Fargo Arena for the first time in two weeks, playing host to UCLA on Thursday night and USC on Saturday afternoon. ASU, which is tied for fourth in the Pac-10 standings at 3-2, returns to Tempe for the first time since Dec. 29 after a stretch of three straight road games, while this week's contests are the only home games for the Sun Devils in a stretch of five of seven on the road. Arizona State has won seven of its last 10 games and rides an eight-game home winning streak (wins in all seven homes contests this year) in this weekend's games. The Sun Devils also look to avenge last season's sweeps by both UCLA and USC as they head into action this weekend. UCLA brings an 8-6 overall record and a 3-2 Pac-10 mark (tied for fourth) into Thursday's game. The Bruins have won their last three games including a sweep of the Washington schools last week in Los Angeles. USC is 7-6 on the year and 4-1 in the league (tied for second). The Women of Troy, who play at Arizona on Thursday before heading to Tempe, have won four of their last five contests, including a sweep of Washington and Washington State last weekend.

In the SeriesUCLA holds a 37-13 advantage in the series with the Sun Devils, including an 18-8 edge in games played in Tempe. The Bruins won both meetings last season with a 60-58 victory at Wells Fargo Arena on Jan. 16 and a 71-62 win at Pauley Pavilion on Feb. 16. Those two Bruin wins snapped ASU's four-game winning streak in the series (back-to-back sweeps in 2000-01 and 2001-02), a stretch which marked the Sun Devils' longest all time winning streak vs. UCLA.

USC leads the series with the Sun Devils 43-8, including a 20-5 advantage in games played in Tempe. USC has won three of the last four games in the series, including a sweep last season with a 58-53 win on Jan. 18 in Tempe and a 64-56 win on Feb. 14 in Los Angeles. In 2000-01, ASU earned its first ever season sweep of the Women of Troy, while in 2001-02, the teams split the two meetings with USC earning a 68-49 victory on Jan. 19 in Los Angeles and ASU getting a 67-60 win on Feb. 14 in Tempe.

Southern California ConnectionHead coach Charli Turner Thorne was a graduate assistant at the University of Washington for current USC head coach Chris Gobrecht from 1988-90. During Turner Thorne's stint at Washington, the Huskies advanced to the NCAA Tournament both seasons reaching the Elite Eight in 1989-90. Gobrecht left UW following the 1995-96 season and spent a year at Florida State before returning to the Pac-10 to go to USC. A native of southern California, Turner Thorne graduated from Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills, Calif., in 1984.

Notes from the Cal GameSophomore Jenny Thigpin scored a career-high 12 points, and junior Betsy Boardman added 12 to lead Arizona State to a 56-52 win at California on Saturday. The victory snapped a seven-game Pac-10 road losing streak for the Sun Devils and marked the team's first league road victory since Jan. 11, 2003.

Moments after junior Carrie Buckner hit the go-ahead jumper, her only basket of the afternoon, junior Kylan Loney made a three-pointer with 1:27 left as the Sun Devils rallied from behind in the final three minutes despite shooting 33.9 percent.

Nihan Anaz scored 11 points and put Cal ahead on a layup with 3:01 to play, but Arizona State ended the game on a 7-2 run. LaTasha O'Keith added 10 points for the Golden Bears, who lost their third straight home game with their lowest scoring output of the season.

Thigpin knocked down 4-of-7 attempts from the field and all four of her free throw attempts, while Loney scored 11 points for the Sun Devils who outrebounded the Bears 40-30. Buckner finished with a team-best nine rebounds, five steals and three assists. Cal had 26 turnovers in the game.

Home-Court AdvantageThe Sun Devils have won all seven of their home games so far this year 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).

Scoring DefenseArizona State has allowed just 56.0 points per game in its last two games after giving up a season-high 81 points in each of the team's previous two games. Last weekend, ASU held No. 7 Stanford to 60 points, 13.1 points below the Cardinal's season average of 73.1 points per game and the lowest total for Stanford this season at Maples Pavilion. The Sun Devils also held California to its lowest scoring output of the season in ASU's 56-52 win last weekend. On the season, ASU ranks sixth in the Pac-10 in scoring defense at 62.3 points allowed per game.

On Board with BoardmanJunior Betsy Boardman continues to lead the team and is ranked 12th in the Pac-10 in scoring at 11.5 points per game. In the last six games, Boardman has averaged 12.3 points, 4.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals per contest. She has also shot 48.5 percent from the field in that span of games (16-33).

Boardman has led the team in scoring four times and scored in double figures nine times in 13 games this season, including a career-best 20 points against Western Michigan on Dec. 5, when she knocked down 4-of-7 attempts from three-point land, and 16 points in ASU's Dec. 20 win at Holy Cross. She knocked down a season-best 75.0 percent of her attempts against the Crusaders (6-8), including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.

Boardman is tied for second on the team in rebounding at 4.7 boards per game. She ranks second on the squad in assists with 42 and is tied with fellow junior Kylan Loney for the team lead in three-pointers made with 21 treys. Boardman also ranks eighth in the Pac-10 in assists (3.23), three-pointers made (1.62) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.31).

Kovesdy Coming On StrongSophomore forward Kristen Kovesdy turned in a career outing in ASU's overtime victory over then No. 24 Washington on Dec. 27. She scored a career-high 29 points on 12-of-14 shooting (also both career bests) and grabbed nine rebounds, just missing the fifth double-double of her career. Kovesdy's 29 points 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 13.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in the last eight contests. She is tied for second on the squad and 20th in the Pac-10 in scoring at 9.6 points per game and has led the team in scoring four times this year. Kovesdy 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 62.5 percent of her field goals in the last 10 (45-72). Kovesdy is now fourth in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage at 52.7 percent (49-93). She also leads the team and is ranked 18th in the Pac-10 at 5.4 rebounds per game.

In Pac-10 play, Kovesdy has kicked things up a notch, averaging a team-best 13.2 points (T11th in league) and tying for first on the squad in rebounding at 4.4 boards. She is also ranked second in the Pac-10 stats in field goal percentage, knocking down 59.5 percent of her attempts in league play.

Wiping the GlassArizona State currently leads the Pac-10 Conference in rebounding defense and rebounding margin, ranks second in offensive rebounds and is third in the league in rebounding offense. The team outrebounded California 40-30 last weekend, snapping a streak of four straight games where the Sun Devils had been outrebounded. The Sun Devils are averaging 38.9 boards per game to just 31.9 for their opponents. On the offensive glass, the team is averaging 15.4 rebounds per game, including a season-high 28 against Western Michigan on Dec. 5. Defensively, ASU has held its opponents to just 9.7 offensive rebounds per game, including a season-low six by California on Jan. 10. ASU outrebounded Cal 19-6 on the offensive glass in that game, including a 12-4 margin in the second half.

Individually, sophomore Kristen Kovesdy is the team's top rebounder and ranks 18th in the Pac-10 at 5.4 rebounds per game, including a team season-high 12 in ASU's win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 10, 10 vs. Washington State on Dec. 27 and nine vs. Washington on Dec. 29. Sophomore Amy Denson and junior Betsy Boardman are tied for second on the team at 4.7 boards per game, while junior Carrie Buckner trails closely behind at 4.4 rebounds per contest, including a season-high nine (five offensive boards) Jan. 10 at California.

Hot HandsArizona State has recently found its hot hand from beyond the arc, shooting 40.0 percent (44-110) from three-point land in the last nine games. The Sun Devils are now ranked fourth in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting, knocking down 35.3 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc (60-170). 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 tied for sixth in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting, knocking down 41.2 percent of her attempts from beyond the arc (21-51). 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 50.0 percent in the last nine tilts (19-38). In Pac-10 play, Loney is ranked third in the league, knocking down 52.6 percent of her attempts from beyond the arc in conference games (10-19).

Loney and junior Betsy Boardman, who is second on the team in three-point shooting (.368, 21-57), have been especially hot in the last six games, shooting a combined 47.9 percent from beyond the arc (Loney 12-23, Boardman 11-25).

Quick Notes

- This weekend's games will pit the Pac-10's top three leaders in steals. UCLA leads the league with 12.4 steals per game, USC is second at 11.4 and ASU ranks third at 11.0 thefts per game. ASU junior Carrie Buckner paces the Sun Devils and is eighth in the Pac-10 at 2.1 thefts per game.

- Arizona State has averaged just 54.0 points per game in its last three games, down from the team's average of 67.8 ppg.

- The Sun Devils have held their opponents to just 15.6 percent from three-point land in the last three games, including no three-pointers by then No. 25 Arizona on Jan. 4 (0-3) and by Cal on Jan. 10 (0-6).

- ASU is averaging 79.4 points and 45.0 rebounds per game and shooting 44.1 percent (196-444) in home games this year compared to 59.6 points, 32.2 rebounds and 40.7 percent shooting (109-268) in road contests.

- Three Sun Devils are averaging in double figures for scoring in Pac-10 play, led by sophomore Kristen Kovesdy who is 11th at 13.2 points per game, junior Betsy Boardman who is 15th at 11.6 ppg and junior Kylan Loney who is 20th at 10.4 ppg. All three players also rank in the league's top 20 for scoring in all games.

- True freshman forward Emily Westerberg has made her first career starts in each of the last two games. Westerberg earned a starting spot after turning in career highs in scoring in back-to-back games. She knocked down 4-of-7 shots to tie her career best with 11 points in ASU's overtime win over Washington on Dec. 29 and then bested that one game later with 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting at Arizona on Jan. 4.

- Arizona State has led the league and now ranks second in the Pac-10 with an average of 17.7 assists per game, including a season-high 27 in its Dec. 20 win at Holy Cross. Junior Betsy Boardman is eighth in the league at 3.2 dishes per contest. Junior Kylan Loney is just out of the league rankings at 3.1 assists per game. Loney is already ranked ninth on the ASU career list with 251 assists in her three seasons and tied her career high with eight assists Dec. 20 at Holy Cross.

- ASU's overtime victory over then No. 24 Washington on Dec. 29 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.

- The Sun Devils snapped an eight-game Pac-10 road losing streak last week with their 56-52 win over California on Jan. 10. 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 overtime win over Washington on Dec. 29. 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).

- ASU's bench continues to produce in every game and has been outscored just four times in 14 games this season. The Sun Devil bench players are turning in an average of 26.4 points per game this year. Sophomore YoVanna Rosenthal leads the scoring off the bench at 5.4 points per game, while true freshmen Alisha Godette (4.2 ppg) and Aubree Johnson (4.1) are turning solid scoring efforts in relief as well.

- The Sun Devils 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.

- 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 NextAfter this week's games with UCLA and USC at Wells Fargo Arena, the Sun Devils complete a stretch of five of seven games on the road with a trip to the Pacific Northwest, traveling to Oregon State and Oregon on Jan. 22 and 24, respectively. The team then returns to Tempe for a stretch of three straight home games including Arizona (Jan. 31), California (Feb. 5) and Stanford (Feb. 7).

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