Women's Hoops Opens Regular Season Saturday Night with San Diego

Nov. 16, 2004

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Following a second-place finish at last week's Women's Sports Foundation Classic, the Arizona State Sun Devils open their home schedule on Saturday, Nov. 20, playing host to the San Diego Toreros (0-0) at 6:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils are off to a 1-1 start after defeating Virginia 60-50 to open the season and falling to No. 3/2 LSU 65-54 in the championship game of last week's tournament in Baton Rouge, La. That marked the seventh straight season that the Sun Devils have opened the year with a victory and the eighth time in nine seasons under head coach Charli Turner Thorne. Saturday against San Diego, ASU will be looking to win their sixth straight home game dating back to last season. Activities on Saturday include a Military Tribute Night, honoring Arizona's current and retired military members and their families, and a Faith and Family Night with local churches and groups being invited to the contest.

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.

In the SeriesASU leads the all-time series with San Diego 4-1, dating back to the first meeting between the two teams in 1980-81. ASU won the first three games in the series and turned in a 76-68 victory on Dec. 1, 1990 in Tempe in the last meeting. The Sun Devils also hold a 13-5 record against teams from the West Coast Conference.

San Diego returns three starters and nine letterwinners from last year's 7-22 squad. The Torero squad features four juniors, including 5-10 forward Lindsay Helvey who is the team's top returning scorer at 8.6 points per game and 5-6 guard Polly Dong who was second in the WCC with 4.4 assists per game last season. The Toreros fell to UC San Diego 78-72 on Nov. 6 in their only exhibition game and were led by 6-5 freshman center Amber Sprague who had 15 points and nine rebounds.

Military Tribute NightASU will pay tribute to current and retired military members throughout the state of Arizona at Saturday night's home opener against San Diego. All military members serving in active, reserve and national guard units in Arizona and their families will receive free admission to Saturday night's game via pass list. Pass lists need to be submitted to ASU by the end of the business day on Thursday and can be faxed to the ASU women's basketball office at (480) 965-8344. Retired veterans who present military ID cards at the ticket windows on game day will also be admitted free of charge.

A joint-service color guard will be presented during the national anthem at Saturday's game, which will be sung by Second Lt. Mario Mercado, an Arizona National Guard member scheduled to deploy to Iraq by the end of the month. A tribute will also take place at halftime. Cadets from ASU's Air Force and Army Reserve Officers Training Programs will also be present for this event. For more information, call the Sun Devil women's basketball office at (480) 965-6086.

ExposureAll of Arizona State's games will be broadcast on NBC 1190 AM with 28-year Valley broad caster 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.

Home-Court AdvantageThe 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 its last five home games and 18 of its last 20 home games. The Sun Devils hold 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).

A Look Back at the Women's Sports Foundation ClassicSenior guard Kylan Loney and junior forward Kristen Kovesdy were named to the all-tournament team as the Sun Devils finished second at the Women's Sports Foundation Classic last week in Baton Rouge, La. ASU defeated Virginia 60-50 in its first-round matchup and fell to No. 3/2 LSU 65-54 in the championship game.

Kovesdy scored 16 points to lead ASU to its victory over Virginia. Down 8-4 early in the game, Arizona State used a 15-4 run, capped off by a three-pointer by Loney, to take a 19-12 lead with 10:19 to play. The Cavaliers never got closer than seven points, and the Sun Devils scored the last four points of the half to go into the locker room with a 35-23 halftime lead. ASU shot 48.1 percent in the first half and had eight steals while holding Virginia to 27.6 percent shooting. Kovesdy turned in 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting to lead ASU, while Loney had 10 points, knocking down 4-of-5 attempts from the field.

In the second half, freshman Reagan Pariseau scored the first five points of the period to give ASU a 40-23 lead with 16:14 to play. The Sun Devils held a 13-point lead, 46-33, with 8:28 to play before the Cavaliers scored the next seven points of the game to cut the ASU advantage to six, 46-40 with 6:34 remaining in the game. Sophomore Aubree Johnson scored the next bucket of the contest, and the Sun Devils made 8-of-10 free throws down the stretch to secure the 60-50 victory.

Kovesdy led the team in scoring with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field, while junior Amy Denson led the team with eight rebounds and five assists. Loney added 12 points, and Johnson had 10 points and six rebounds.

In the championship game, tournament MVP Seimone Augustus led the way with 25 points as the Lady Tigers turned in a 65-54 victory. Loney paced the Sun Devils with 12 points, while sophomore Emily Westerberg had 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Arizona State (1-1) scored the opening basket for the Sun Devils' only lead of the game. LSU used a 13-2 run to pull away and eventually led 35-23 at the break. ASU cut the lead to nine points twice on their first two possessions of the second half, but LSU used a 10-2 run to take a 17-point lead. The Sun Devils had another chance midway through the second half when the team got within 10, 51-41 with 7:46 to play, after a layup by Kovesdy and a three-pointer by freshman Reagan Pariseau, but the Lady Tigers scored the next eight points of the game.

LSU led by as many as 19 points later in the second half, but ASU made one last run at the Lady Tigers and closed the game on a 9-1 run en route to the 65-54 loss.

Augustus had 16 of her game-high 25 points in the first half and added four rebounds, four steals and three assists to the winning effort. Temeka Johnson added 11 points and seven assists in the win, while all-tournament team selection Sylvia Fowles contributed six points, a team-high seven rebounds and four blocked shots. LSU shot 52.7 percent from the floor and held ASU to 37.5 percent, but the Sun Devils outrebounded the Lady Tigers 31-28 and connected on 16 of 21 free throws.

Tough SlateArizona 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. Including last week's matchup with No. 3/2 LSU, the Sun Devils will take on five teams ranked in the preseason polls, including three of the top five squads in the country during the non-conference slate. The team travels to No. 5/5 Georgia on Dec. 7 and 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 receiving votes.

Getting It Done on 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 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-plus seasons (since the start of the 1998-99 season to present), the Sun Devils have allowed opponents to just 62.7 points and 34.0 rebounds per game and 29.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc (11,412 points, 6,179 rebounds, 502-1711 three-pointers, 182 games).

Early-Season Quick Hits

... ASU's Nov. 11 game with Virginia tied for the earliest start in school history. The Sun Devils also opened the season on Nov. 11 in 1978-79. The contest against the Cavaliers also marked 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.

... Including their two exhibition games, the Sun Devils are holding opponents to just 50.0 points and 31.5 rebounds per game and allowing them to shoot 36.7 percent from the field (77-210). From three-point land, ASU has been even stingier, allowing opponents to shoot just 10.0 percent from beyond the arc (3-30). The Sun Devils have not allowed a three-pointer in regular-season play (0-4).

... As a team, Arizona State has turned in 69.5 points and 37.3 rebounds per contest (including the exhibitions) and has shot 45.9 percent (101-220) in the four games, including 53.3 percent in the second half (57-107).

... Junior forward Kristen Kovesdy has led the team in scoring in two of the four games (13.7 ppg), including 16 points Nov. 11 against Virginia and 20 points in a Nov. 3 exhibition win over Strakonice (Czech Republic). In the regular season, Kovesdy, who ranks third on the ASU career field goal percentage chart at 54.0 percent (220-407), has shot a blazing 78.6 percent from the field (11-14). She had a 7-of-8 effort in the season-opener against Virginia.

... Kovesdy and senior Kylan Loney are each averaging 12.0 points per game in the two regular-season contests.

... Junior Amy Denson is ASU's leading rebounder with 6.5 boards per tilt in ASU's two regular-season games. Counting the two exhibitions, she has pulled down 7.3 boards oer game this year. Denson led the team in rebounding in four games last year and paced the squad in the category in Pac-10 play (4.7 rpg).

... ASU has averaged 11.5 steals per game in the two regular-season contests this year after finishing third in the Pac-10 in the category last season (10.0 steals per game). The Sun Devils reached double figures for steals in 19 of 29 games last year with a season high of 17.

Turner Thorne Second in All-Time Wins at ASUWith a 124-113 record in eight seasons at ASU, Turner Thorne needs just 10 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.

ASU Picked Fourth in Preseason Pac-10 PollsArizona 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.

March MadnessArizona 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 NextFollowing Saturday night's home opener with San Diego, the Sun Devils hit the road again, traveling to San Antonio, Texas, for the UTSA Thanksgiving Classic on Nov. 26-27. ASU will play Seton Hall in its first game and Prairie View A&M in its second at the tournament, which is being played at Texas-San Antonio's Convocation Center.

The team then returns home on Friday-Saturday, Dec. 3-4 for its own ASU Holiday Classic. ASU will play Alabama State in its first game and either Gonzaga or Nevada in its second. The Sun Devils have won their own tournament in each of the last three seasons. Last year, Betsy Boardman was the MVP and Kylan Loney and YoVanna Rosenthal were named to the all-tournament team as ASU downed Western Michigan and Binghamton to capture the tournament title.