Women's Hoops Opens Season at Sports Foundation Classic

Nov. 9, 2004

TEMPE, Ariz. - Coming off a pair of wins in exhibition play, the Arizona State Sun Devils tip off the 29th season of Sun Devil women's basketball this week, traveling to Baton Rouge, La., for the Women's Sports Foundation Classic on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 11-12. The Sun Devils will take on Virginia on Thursday and either No. 3/2 LSU or Maine in the second round on Friday. Making the earliest start in school history, Arizona State heads to Baton Rouge looking to win its seventh straight season opener and its first two games for the seventh consecutive year.

Ninth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne, the second winningest coach in school history, and the Sun Devils return 11 letterwinners, including all five starters, from last year's 17-12 squad. This season, ASU looks to extend a streak that has seen the team advance to the postseason for a school-record five consecutive seasons. ASU's roster features four seniors this year in guards Betsy Boardman, Lauren Stagg, Carrie Bucker and Kylan Loney. Loney was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection last season after leading the team in assists and three-point shooting. The Sun Devils also return a talented group of four juniors and three sophomores who have made significant contributions in the last two years, including 2004 honorable-mention All-Pac-10 selection Kristen Kovesdy and Pac-10 All-Freshman honoree Emily Westerberg. Joining the returners are redshirt freshman Jacquelyn Johnson and true freshman Reagan Pariseau. Johnson was the 2004 Pac-10 Track and Field Newcomer of the Year after winning NCAA and Pac-10 heptathlon titles last season, while Pariseau was the MVP of the Greater Spokane League last year at Central Valley High School in Spokane, Wash.

All of Arizona State's games will be broadcast on NBC 1190 AM with 28-year Valley broadcaster Jeff Munn (play-by-play) and Phoenix Mercury general manager Seth Sulka (color) calling the action. Munn, who is a fill-in radio play-by-play announcer for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the club's public address announcer, is in the first year of his second stint as ASU's play-by-play voice. All of ASU's radio broadcasts are also available live on the internet at www.thesundevils.com.

Thursday's broadcast will go on the air with the pre-game show at 3:35 p.m. Mountain Time and tipoff at 4 p.m., while fans should check the ASU website on for information on ASU's second-round game (time and opponent TBA).

In the Series
Thursday's game will mark the first meeting between Arizona State and Virginia, while the Sun Devils are 3-3 all time against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Cavaliers return nine letterwinners and three starters from last year's 13-16 squad. Led by 28th-year head coach Debbie Ryan, the Cavalier squad features five seniors, including returning starters LaTonya Blue, Kate Kreager and Jocelyn Logan-Friend.

A first meeting is also possible with Maine, while ASU lost its only previous game with LSU, falling to the then No. 18 Lady Tigers 83-66 on March 16, 2000 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in West Lafayette, Ind. ASU is 2-0 all time against teams the America East Conference and 3-11 against teams from the Southeastern Conference.

Last year, Maine won the America East Conference title and earned an NCAA Tournament berth. The Black Bears return nine letterwinners and two starters from their 25-7 squad. LSU advanced to the NCAA Final Four and turned in a 27-8 record last season. The Lady Tigers return 10 letterwinners and four starters from that team, including junior guard Seimone Augustus, a National Player-of-the Year candidate who earned Kodak All-America honors last year.

Good Starts
Arizona State has opened the season with back-to-back wins in each of the last six seasons, a streak dating back to 1998-99. Under ninth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne, the Sun Devils have won seven of eight season openers. Last year, the Sun Devils opened the season with an 80-48 victory over Akron on Nov. 21 at Wells Fargo Arena. In 2002-03, the Sun Devils won their first five games, the best start since 1991-92 when ASU made the best start in school history with nine straight wins.

The Nov. 11 game with Virginia will tie for the earliest start in school history. The Sun Devils also opened the season on Nov. 11 in 1978-79. Thursday's game against the Cavaliers also marks the first time that ASU has begun a campaign on the road since the 1995-96 Sun Devil squad went to Ames, Iowa for the Cyclone Classic.

Notes from the Exhibition Season
The Sun Devils won both of their exhibition games this season, turning in an 84-41 win over Strakonice (Czech Republic) on Nov. 3 and an 80-44 victory over Team Concept on Nov. 8...ASU is now 12-6 in exhibition games under ninth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne...junior Kristen Kovesdy had 20 points on 10-of-11 shooting to lead ASU to its win over Strakonice...sophomore Emily Westerberg scored a game-high 16 points (12 in the second half) vs. Team Concept...Westerberg and fellow sophomore Aubree Johnson led the team with 13.0 points per game in the two exhibition contests...junior Amy Denson was ASU's leading rebounder with 8.0 boards per tilt...As a team, ASU averaged 82.0 points and 43.5 rebounds per game in the exhibition season while holding opponents to 42.5 points and 31.0 rebounds...the Sun Devils also shot 48.8 percent from the field in the exhibition season (62-127), including a blazing 61.3 percent in the second half (38-62).

Tough Slate
Arizona State has put together one of the toughest schedules in the nation this season. The Sun Devils will take on eight teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year, including a Dec. 21 match-up with three-time defending NCAA champion Connecticut. In the Women's Sports Foundation Classic Nov. 11-12, ASU will play perennial NCAA qualifier Virginia in the first round and either LSU or Maine in the second. Last year, LSU advanced to the NCAA Final Four, while Maine won the America East Conference title and earned an NCAA berth. ASU also hits the road to take on 2004 NCAA Elite Eight participant Georgia on Dec. 7 and 2004 NCAA qualifier New Mexico on Dec. 18.

The Sun Devils will take on five teams ranked in the preseason polls with a chance to play three of the top five squads in the country in the preseason. ASU may take on No. 3/2 Louisiana State in the second round of this week's Women's Sports Foundation Classic., while the team travels to No. 5/5 Georgia on Dec. 7. The Sun Devils will then play host to No. 4/4 Connecticut on Dec. 21 at Wells Fargo Arena. Two Pac-10 teams - No. 7/7 Stanford and No. 24/24 Arizona - are ranked in the preseason with ASU and UCLA each receiving votes.

Tough Defense
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 six years (1998-99 to present).

Last year, ASU paced the Pac-10 in rebounding defense (32.2 rpg) and three-point field goal defense (30.4 percent allowed) and finished second in scoring defense (61.1 ppg). By allowing just 32.2 rebounds per game, ASU set a school record for rebounding defense in 2003-04, besting the previous low of 33.3 by the 2001-02 Pac-10 Tournament champion squad. ASU also led the Pac-10 in three-point defense in for the third straight year and the fifth time in six seasons.

In the last six seasons (since the start of the 1998-99 season to present), the Sun Devils have allowed opponents to just 62.8 points and 34.0 rebounds per game and 29.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc (11,297 points, 6,115 rebounds, 502-1707 three-pointers, 180 games).

Turner Thorne Second in All-Time Wins at ASU
With a 123-112 record in eight seasons at ASU, Turner Thorne needs just 11 wins to tie the school record for victories. Juliene Simpson is currently the all-time winningest coach in Arizona State women's basketball history, notching a 134-92 mark in eight seasons in Tempe (1979-87).

Turner Thorne has led her Sun Devils to a school-record five consecutive postseason bids including WNIT appearances in 2000, 2003 and 2004 and ASU's first back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 20 years in 2001 and 2002. ASU previously had advanced to postseason play in three straight seasons (NWIT runner-up in 1981, NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 1982 and 1983). After a 17-12 mark in 2003-04, Turner Thorne became only the second coach in school history to lead the Sun Devils to four consecutive winning seasons. The last time ASU had four straight winning campaigns was under Juliene Simpson from 1980-81 to 1983-84.

Since Turner Thorne took over the reins of the program in 1996-97, the Sun Devils have regained the national prominence the team enjoyed in the early 1990s. In 2000-01, Turner Thorne's Sun Devils captured ASU's first Pac-10 Championship, an NCAA berth, a return to the national rankings and the team's first 20-win season in nine years, while her 2001-02 squad tied the school mark for single-season wins with a 25-9 record, advanced to the NCAA Tournament and won the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament Championship.

Home-Court Advantage
The Sun Devils turned in a 13-1 record at Wells Fargo Arena last year, tying the school record for home wins for the third consecutive year and setting the school mark for home winning percentage in a season (.929). ASU has won 18 of its last 20 home games and holds a 62-14 record at Wells Fargo Arena in the last five seasons (.816) and a 39-7 mark over the last three campaigns (.848). In 2002-03, ASU turned in a 13-4 record which matched the school-record 13 victories the 2001-02 team had (13-2).

ASU Picked Fourth in Preseason Pac-10 Polls
Arizona State has been picked to finish fourth in the Pac-10 Conference by the media and the league's coaches. It marks the fourth time in five years that ASU has been picked to finish in the upper half of the Pac-10. Last year, ASU was picked fourth by the media and fifth by the coaches and ended up in a tie for third place in the final league standings. Following are the complete Pac-10 preseason polls (first-place votes in parentheses):

Media	                    CoachesT1.	Stanford (8)	    1. 	Stanford (8)	Arizona (7)	    2. 	Arizona (1)3. 	UCLA	            3. 	UCLA (1)4.	Arizona State	    4. 	Arizona State5.	Washington	    5.	Oregon6.	Oregon	            6.	Washington7.	USC	            7.	USC8.	Oregon State	    8.	California9.	California	    9.	Oregon State10.	Washington State   10.	Washington State

March Madness
Arizona State University and Wells Fargo Arena have been selected to host the Tempe Regional of the 2005 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship. ASU will play host to games on March 26 and 28 in Tempe. Tickets for the NCAA Tempe Regional are on sale now at the ASU ticket office, by calling (480) 965-2381 or by logging on to www.thesundevils.com.

Up Next
After this week's tournament, ASU plays its regular-season home opener on Saturday, Nov. 20, taking on San Diego at 6:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena. Saturday night's game will be Faith and Family Night with local churches and groups being invited to the contest. ASU will also host a Military Tribute Night on Nov. 20 with members of all branches of the military and their families being invited to the game and honored. For more information about either event, call the Arizona State women's basketball office at 965-6086.