Women's Hoops to Host Arizona Saturday Night at Wells Fargo Arena

Jan. 27, 2004

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Coming off a sweep at Oregon and Oregon State last weekend, the Arizona State Sun Devils return home to take on intrastate rival and Pac-10 leader Arizona Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena to begin the second half of the Pac-10 season. Following last week's road wins, which marked ASU's first Pac-10 road sweep since 2000-01, the Sun Devils have won their last two games and four of their last five. Arizona State wrapped up the first half of Pac-10 play with a 6-3 mark (fourth in the league standings, two games out of first), which matches the start of the 2001-02 Pac-10 Tournament Championship team which won seven of its first 10 Pac-10 games and tied school records for overall (25) and Pac-10 wins (12). Saturday's tilt will mark the 59th all-time meeting between Arizona and Arizona State, while the Sun Devils will be looking to win their fourth straight home game against the Wildcats. Arizona brings a 16-4 overall record to Tempe and is tied for first with Stanford at the top of the Pac-10 standings with an 8-1 league mark. The Wildcats have won their last four games and five of their last six including a pair of wins at Oregon and Oregon State last weekend.

In the SeriesArizona State holds a 34-24 advantage in the all-time series with Arizona, including a 17-12 advantage in games played in Tempe. The Sun Devils have won five of the last eight games in the series with Arizona and three straight contests at Wells Fargo Arena. 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 then 19th-ranked Arizona on Jan. 23 in Tempe, while the Wildcats earned a 72-52 win on Feb. 22 in Tucson. The Wildcats got the best of the Sun Devils in the first meeting this year with an 81-60 victory on Jan. 2 in Tucson.

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 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.

Notes from the Oregon GameJunior Betsy Boardman scored 13 points and had three steals to lead Arizona State to a 69-67 squeaker at Oregon on Saturday afternoon. With its win at Oregon State on Thursday, ASU earned its first Pac-10 road sweep since getting wins at UCLA and USC in 2000-01.

For the second game in a row, ASU fell behind early, trailing 7-2 five minutes into the ballgame. The Sun Devils then rallied with a 15-1 run to take a 17-8 lead with 7:57 to play. ASU led 21-10 with 6:16 left in the first half, but Oregon knocked down three three-pointers, including a pair by sophomore Chelsea Wagner, and closed the half on a 19-6 run to take a three-point lead into the locker room, 30-27.

Freshman Emily Westerberg pulled down eight of her career-high 10 rebounds in the first half, while Boardman scored seven of her 13 points in the first 20 minutes to lead the Sun Devils.

The second half was characterized by small runs by each team. Sophomore Amy Denson tied things up for ASU by draining her fourth three-pointer of the season 22 seconds into the half. Boardman scored six points over the next two and a half minutes, and ASU took a 40-34 lead with 16:54 to play. The Ducks cut the lead to one a minute later, but ASU responded with a 7-0 run, including five points by sophomore Jenny Thigpin, to go up 47-39 with 12:39 to play.

Oregon cut the lead to one point twice over the next few minutes and tied the game at 53 with 6:36 to play. The Ducks scored 11 of the next 14 points in the game to take a 64-56 lead with 3:59 left in the game.

ASU then went to work. Freshman Alisha Godette drove the lane, was fouled and knocked down a pair of free throws to cut the lead to six. Denson then hit 3-of-4 free throws to bring ASU within three points, and Godette tied the game at 64 with a three-pointer with 1:39 to play. Sophomore Kristen Kovesdy hit a pair of go-ahead free throws with 48 seconds left, while ASU made 5-of-8 free throws over the final 48 seconds to secure the win. Oregon had a chance to tie with ASU up 67-65 with eight seconds left with a potential layup, but Boardman knocked the ball to junior Carrie Buckner who passed it to junior Kylan Loney who was fouled and made both free throws to seal the victory.

Boardman finished the game with 13 points, while Denson scored all 10 of her points in the second half. Westerberg finished with a career-best 10 rebounds. Godette scored nine points, including 6-of-6 from the free throw line, while junior Carrie Buckner and Kovesdy each finished with eight points. Buckner added a team-high four assists and no turnovers. For Oregon, Wagner finished with a game-high 20 points to lead five Ducks in double figures and knocked down 5-of-9 attempts from three-point land.

Home-Court AdvantagePrior to their Jan. 17 loss to USC, the Sun Devils had won all eight of their home games this year and a total of nine straight games at Wells Fargo Arena where the team has won a school-record 13 games in each of the last two seasons. The Jan. 17 loss to USC was just the first home loss since ASU fell to USC on Jan. 18, 2003. Including this year's eight wins, ASU has won 13 of its last 15 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 57-14 record (.803) at Wells Fargo Arena in the last five seasons (1999-00 to present).

More on the Friendly Confines of Wells Fargo ArenaASU is averaging 77.1 points and 44.1 rebounds per game and shooting 44.6 percent (243-545) in home games this year. In comparison, ASU has turned in 61.4 points, 33.0 rebounds and 41.2 percent shooting (150-364) in road games this season (4-3 record). The team has shot 50 percent or better from the field at home three times this season and has outrebounded six of the nine opponents it has faced at Wells Fargo Arena.

Scoring DefenseIncluding its road wins last weekend in Oregon, Arizona State has allowed just 60.1 points per game in its last six games after giving up a season-high 81 points in each of the team's previous two. ASU has held three of those six opponents under 60 points, including 56 by Oregon State last weekend and 58 points by UCLA on Jan. 15. On the season, ASU ranks second in the Pac-10 in scoring defense at 62.3 points allowed per game and is 7-2 on the year when allowing its opponents 59 points or less.

The Sun Devils held No. 7 Stanford to 60 points on Jan. 8, 13.1 points below the Cardinal's then 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 on Jan. 10.

Kovesdy Coming On StrongSophomore forward Kristen Kovesdy continues to lead the Sun Devils in scoring and field goal percentage in Pac-10 play. She is second in the league in field goal percentage in conference games, knocking down 60.8 percent of her attempts (45-74), and ranks 12th in the Pac-10 in scoring in league games with 13.2 points per game. She paced the team in scoring for the sixth time this season, turning in 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting Jan. 22 at Oregon State.

Kovesdy is second on the squad and 16th in the Pac-10 in scoring at 10.4 points per game and has led the team in scoring six 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 then 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 14 (65-104). Kovesdy now ranks third in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage at 55.2 percent (69-125). She is second to fellow sophomore Amy Denson in rebounding by just two boards and ranks 20th in the Pac-10 at 5.2 rebounds per game.

On Board with BoardmanJunior Betsy Boardman continues to lead the team and is ranked 11th in the Pac-10 in scoring at 12.0 points per game, including a team-high 13 in last Saturday's win at Oregon. In the last 10 games, Boardman has averaged 13.6 points, 3.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.1 steals per contest. She has also shot 46.1 percent from the field in that span of games (35-76). In ASU's Jan. 15 win over UCLA, she turned in 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting and tied her career high with four three-pointers (4-of-7 from beyond the arc), while against USC on Jan. 17, she led the team with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting and had five rebounds and four steals.

Boardman has led the team in scoring six times and scored in double figures 13 times in 17 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 at Holy Cross (6-8) and was 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. Boardman also leads the squad in three-pointers with 29 treys and is third on the team in assists (50) and rebounding (4.5 rpg). Boardman is ninth in three-point field goal percentage (.377) and eighth in three-pointers made (1.71).

Hot HandsArizona State has continued to shoot the ball well from beyond the arc, knocking down a season-best 45.4 percent of its three-pointers Jan. 22 at Oregon State (5-11). In the last 12 games, the Sun Devils have shot 38.2 percent (61-159) from three-point land and are now ranked fourth in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting, knocking down 35.2 percent of their attempts (77-219). 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.

Junior Betsy Boardman leads the team and ranks ninth in the league in three-point shooting at 37.7 percent (29-77), while junior Kylan Loney is second on the squad and 10th in the league, knocking down 37.5 percent of her attempts from beyond the arc (24-64). Boardman knocked down 4-of-7 attempts in a Jan. 15 win over UCLA, while Loney tied 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 43.1 percent in the last 13 tilts (22-51). In Pac-10 play, Loney is ranked eighth in the league at 40.6 percent (13-32) and Boardman is ninth at 40.5 percent (17-42). Boardman has knocked down two or more treys in eight games and has had at least one three-pointer in all but one game this season.

Boardman ranks fourth on the ASU career list for three-pointers with 102, becoming just the fourth Sun Devil in school history to knock down 100 career treys after draining one three-pointer Jan. 22 at Oregon State. Loney ranks seventh on that list with 82 three-pointers in her career.

Wiping the GlassArizona State currently leads the Pac-10 in rebounding defense and rebounding margin, ranks third in offensive rebounds and is fourth in rebounding offense. The team has outrebounded three of its last five opponents, including a 38-29 advantage over Oregon State on Jan. 22. After outrebounding seven of its first nine opponents this year, ASU has been outboarded in six of the last nine contests, including a slim 33-32 advantage by Oregon last weekend. The Sun Devils are averaging 38.7 boards per game to just 32.0 for their opponents.

On the offensive glass, the team is averaging 14.7 rebounds per game, including a season-high 28 against Western Michigan on Dec. 5. Defensively, ASU has held its opponents to just 10.6 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 Amy Denson is first on the team and 17th in the Pac-10 at 5.3 rebounds per game, while sophomore Kristen Kovesdy is second on the team and 20th in the league at 5.2 rebounds per game. The pair waged a dogfight for the team rebounding lead all last year as well with Kovesdy winning the battle at 6.1 rebounds per game (T10th in the Pac-10, 183 rbs.) and Denson second on the team and 15th in the league at 6.0 rpg (179 rbs.). In fact, the race was so close that ASU's coaches gave both players the rebounding award at the year-end banquet. Denson paces the team in rebounding in Pac-10 play, averaging 5.8 rebounds per league contest (11th in the Pac-10). She led the team in rebounding with a game-high 12 against UCLA on Jan. 15 and a team-best nine vs. USC on Jan. 17.

Road WarriorsAfter turning in a 1-8 mark in Pac-10 road games last season, the Sun Devils are 3-2 this year with victories at California, Oregon State and Oregon. Coming off last weekend's road sweep at Oregon State and Oregon, ASU has won three straight conference road games and is 4-3 overall on the road this year.

The Sun Devils snapped an eight-game Pac-10 road losing streak with their 56-52 win over California on Jan. 10. Prior to the victory over the Golden Bears, the Sun Devils' last Pac-10 road win came on Jan. 11, 2003 when the team turned in a 66-58 victory over Washington State in Pullman. 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).

With their wins at Oregon State and Oregon last weekend, the Sun Devils also turned in their first Pac-10 road sweep since getting a 78-68 win at UCLA on Jan. 18, 2001 and a 66-59 victory at USC on Jan. 20, 2001. In 2000-01, ASU, which turned in a 5-4 road mark in league play, finished the season 20-11 and 12-6 in the Pac-10 and earned a share of the first Pac-10 basketball title in school history.

Quick Notes

- ASU tied its season low with just 13 turnovers last week at Oregon. The team had turned the ball over 81 times in the previous three games, including a season-high 29 turnovers in its Jan. 15 win over UCLA and 26 in each of its last two contests (USC and Oregon State).

- The Sun Devils have shot 81.6 percent from the free throw line in the last two games (40-49), including an 82.8 percent showing at Oregon on Saturday (24-29).

- ASU has allowed its last seven opponents to shoot just 21.7 percent from beyond the arc (13-60) and leads the league in three-point defense for Pac-10 games, allowing teams to shoot just 28.0 percent (23-82). Prior to allowing Oregon to shoot 42.9 percent (6-14) from three-point land last week, the Sun Devils had held their opponents to just 15.2 percent in the previous six games (7-46), including 1-of-9 shooting by Oregon State on Jan. 22. ASU allowed no three-pointers by then No. 25 Arizona on Jan. 4 (0-3), Cal on Jan. 10 (0-6) and USC on Jan. 17 (0-4).

- The Sun Devils shot 50.0 percent at Oregon State on Jan. 22 (21-42), marking the fifth time this year that ASU has shot 50 percent or better from the field. ASU is 5-0 on the year when shooting 50 percent or better from the field. In the last four games, the Sun Devils have shot 44.7 percent (88-197) up from their season average of 42.0 percent.

- ASU's bench continues to produce in every game and has been outscored just six times in 18 games this season. The Sun Devil bench players are turning in an average of 24.3 points per game this year. Freshman Emily Westerberg (6.3 points per game including 13 Jan. 22 at Oregon State) is leading the scoring off the bench, while sophomore YoVanna Rosenthal (4.4) and true freshmen Alisha Godette (4.5) and Aubree Johnson (3.9) are also turning solid scoring efforts in relief.

- Arizona State ranks second in the Pac-10 with an average of 17.3 assists per game, including a season-high 27 in its Dec. 20 win at Holy Cross. Junior Carrie Buckner leads the team and is tied for eighth in the Pac-10 with 3.1 assists per game, while junior Kylan Loney is 10th in the league at 2.9 dishes per contest. Buckner tied her career best with six assists to lead ASU in the category Jan. 15 vs. UCLA and has the third-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the Pac-10 (2.12). Loney is already ranked ninth on the ASU career list with 261 assists in her three seasons and tied her career high with eight assists Dec. 20 at Holy Cross.

Up NextFollowing this week's game with Arizona, the Sun Devils complete their three-game homestand, playing host to California on Thursday, Feb. 5 and No. 8 Stanford on Feb. 7. The team returns to the road the following week, traveling to Los Angeles to take on USC (Feb. 12) and UCLA (Feb. 14).

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