Women's Basketball to Play at No. 6 Georgia Tuesday Night
Dec. 6, 2004
TEMPE, Ariz. -
Winners of five consecutive games including two at last week's Wells Fargo Holiday Classic, the Arizona State Sun Devils hit the road again, traveling to Athens, Ga., to take on the No. 6/6 Georgia Bulldogs (5-2) on Tuesday night at Georgia's Stegeman Coliseum. The trip begins a stretch of four of five games on the road for the Sun Devils who have turned in a 3-1 record away from the friendly confines of Wells Fargo Arena this season. Arizona State heads into Tuesday's game with a 6-1 overall record and has won its last five games, which already matches the team's longest winning streak last season. The Sun Devils head to Athens looking for their first win over a ranked opponent this year after falling at then No. 3/2 LSU earlier this season. Georgia is 5-2 this season, most recently falling to Georgia Tech 55-49 on Dec. 3 in Atlanta. The Lady Bulldogs, who advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight last year, won their first three games of the season, including a 78-64 victory over then No. 2 Texas.
Following Tuesday's game at Georgia, the Sun Devils will take a week off for finals (Dec. 8-15). The team will resume its streak of four of five games on the road with a Dec. 18 contest at New Mexico and will open Pac-10 Conference action at Washington State on Dec. 27 and at Washington on Dec. 29. The Sun Devils' only home game in that stretch is a Dec. 21 matchup with three-time defending NCAA champion and eighth-ranked Connecticut at Wells Fargo Arena.
In the SeriesArizona State holds a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series with Georgia, winning the last two meetings. The Sun Devils most recently turned in a 74-70 victory over then No. 14/9 Georgia on Dec. 2, 2002 at Wells Fargo Arena. That game marked ASU's 13th straight at Wells Fargo Arena at the time, which set the school record for longest home winning streak for the team which has won 21 of its last 23 home games. The Sun Devils are 3-11 all time against teams from the Southeastern Conference.
Georgia, which was ranked sixth in both of last week's polls, brings a 5-2 record into Tuesday night's game. The Lady Bulldogs opened the season with three straight wins before falling 64-63 to TCU in the semifinals of the Rainbow Wahine Classic. Georgia then won its next two games before dropping a 55-49 decision at Georgia Tech last week. 6-2 freshman guard Tasha Humphrey is leading the Lady Bulldogs in scoring (17.1 ppg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg) through seven games this year.
ExposureAll of Arizona State's games will be broadcast live or on tape delay 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.
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 a Nov. 12 game at then No. 3/2 (and now top-ranked) LSU, the Sun Devils will take on six teams ranked in the most recent polls, including three of the preseason top five squads in the country during the non-conference slate. The team travels to No. 6/6 Georgia on Dec. 7 and will then play host to No. 8/8 Connecticut on Dec. 21 at Wells Fargo Arena. Three Pac-10 teams - No. 5/2 Stanford, No. -/25 Arizona and No. 25/- UCLA - are ranked with ASU, Oregon, USC and Washington receiving votes.
Against Ranked OpponentsTuesday's game at Georgia will mark ASU's second game against a ranked opponent this year. Earlier this season, ASU lost at then No. 3/2 LSU 65-54 in the championship of the Women's Sports Foundation Classic in Baton Rouge. The Sun Devils went 2-4 against ranked opponents last year, upsetting then No. 24 Washington 84-81 in overtime on Dec. 27 and No. 7 Stanford 73-53 on Feb. 7, both at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe. ASU's last win over a team ranked in the top five came against then No. 2 Stanford when the Sun Devils upset the Cardinal 70-63 on March 4, 2002 in the 2002 Pac-10 Tournament championship game.
Last Week in the Wells Fargo Holiday ClassicArizona State turned in a pair of victories over Alabama State and West Coast Conference favorite Gonzaga last week to capture the 2004 Wells Fargo Holiday Classic. It marked the fourth straight season that ASU has won its own tournament. Senior Kylan Loney was named the tournament MVP, while junior Kristen Kovesdy and sophomore Emily Westerberg also made the all-tournament squad for ASU.
Loney had 16 points, all in the first half, to lead ASU to a 71-31 victory over Alabama State in the first game. ASU held a 32-13 halftime lead and scored the first 10 points of the second half. The Sun Devils led by as many as 45 points late in the period en route to the 71-31 victory.
Loney knocked down 4-of-6 three-point attempts, while Westerberg had 11 points. Kovesdy grabbed a season-high seven rebounds, and senior Carrie Buckner turned in five assists and four steals. Junior Amy Denson had the most complete night for the Sun Devils with seven points, five rebounds, four assists and a career-high five steals.
ASU's defense held the Hornets' leading scorer, 6-5 center Crystal Kitt to six points on 2-of-5 shooting. Kitt averaged 20.5 points per game last year to rank 12th in the NCAA.
In the championship game, Kovesdy scored a game-high 21 points to lead Arizona State to a 77-58 win over Gonzaga. ASU again jumped out to the early lead and shot a season-high 69.0 percent in the first half en route to a 47-21 halftime advantage. Kovesdy had 13 points in the first half on 6-of-6 shooting, while Loney added 11, including a pair of three-pointers.
In the second half, the Sun Devils led by as many as 32 points and came away with the 77-58 victory. Kovesdy went 9-of-11 from the field for a game-high 21 points and tied sophomore Aubree Johnson for the team lead in rebounds with six. Loney finished with 15 points and added six assists and two steals, while Westerberg had six assists. Buckner turned in eight points, five steals and four rebounds, while Johnson had eight points to go along with her six rebounds.
Keeping Up with KovesdyJunior forward Kristen Kovesdy leads the Pac-10 in field goal percentage this season, shooting a blazing 69.8 percent from the field (37-53). She finished second in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage last year at 55.7 percent, the seventh-best single-season effort by a Sun Devil. Kovesdy already ranks second on the Arizona State career field goal percentage chart at 55.2 percent (246-446).
Kovesdy is also second on the team and ranked 15th in the Pac-10 in scoring at 12.0 points per game this season. She paced the team with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting in ASU's season-opening victory over Virginia on Nov. 11 and tied freshman Reagan Pariseau for the team lead with 14 points in ASU's win over Prairie View A&M Nov. 27 in San Antonio. Last weekend, she turned in a season-high 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting in the win against Gonzaga in the championship game of the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic.
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 seven seasons (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 for the third straight year and the fifth time in six seasons.
This season, the Sun Devils lead the Pac-10 in rebounding defense (26.7 rebounds per game) and three-point percentage defense (23.5 percent) and rank second in the league in scoring defense (47.4 points per game). ASU has held six of its seven opponents under 60 points and tied the school record for fewest points allowed after holding Prairie View A&M to just 30 points on Nov. 27. The very next game, ASU almost tied the school record again with a 71-31 victory over Alabama State on Dec. 3. ASU also outrebounded Prairie View by a margin of 43-9 in the victory.
In the last seven seasons (since the start of the 1998-99 season to present), the Sun Devils have allowed opponents to just 62.2 points and 33.7 rebounds per game and 29.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc (11,576 points, 6,276 rebounds, 510-1740 three-pointers, 186 games).
A Little Help From Their FriendsArizona State ranks second in the Pac-10 with an average of 18.4 assists per game. In the last three games, the Sun Devils have averaged 23.3 assists per contest, including a season-high 30 Nov. 27 against Prairie View A&M. In those three games, ASU has registered an assist on 76.1 percent of its field goals made (30 of 38 vs. Prairie View, 15 of 22 vs. Alabama State and 25 of 32 vs. Gonzaga).
Junior forward Amy Denson is leading the team and ranked eighth in the Pac-10 with 3.4 assists per game, including a career-best seven in ASU's Nov. 27 win over Prairie View. Denson has continued to improve her passing in each of her three seasons at ASU. Last year, she nearly doubled her assists total from her freshman year, averaging 1.5 assists per game compared to 0.8 in her rookie season. Senior Kylan Loney is second on the team with 2.9 assists per game, including a season-high six last week against Gonzaga. With 316 assists in her four years at ASU, Loney is ranked eighth on the ASU career lists and should finish in the top five.
Balanced ScoringThe Sun Devils have gotten balanced scoring so far this year with five different players leading the team in scoring in the team's seven games. Three Sun Devils are ranked in the top 20 in the Pac-10 in scoring including senior Kylan Loney at 12.4 points per game, junior Kristen Kovesdy at 12.0 ppg and sophomore Emily Westerberg at 10.6 ppg. In ASU's Nov. 27 win over Prairie View A&M, all 13 Sun Devils scored at least two points, while ASU has nine players averaging at least three points per game this year.
ASU's Leading Scorers in 2004-05Date Opponent Leading ScorerN 11 vs. Virginia Kristen Kovesdy (16 points)N 12 at #3/2 LSU Kylan Loney (12 points)N 20 San Diego Emily Westerberg (17 points)N 26 Seton Hall Betsy Boardman (14 points)N 27 Prairie View A&M Reagan Pariseau (14 points) Kristen Kovesdy (14 points)D 3 Alabama State Kylan Loney (16 points)D 4 Gonzaga Kristen Kovesdy (21 points)
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). Including a 3-0 mark this year, ASU has won its last eight home games and 21 of its last 23 home games. The Sun Devils hold a 65-14 record at Wells Fargo Arena in the last five-plus seasons (.823) and a 42-7 mark over the last three-plus campaigns (.857). In 2002-03, ASU turned in a 13-4 record which matched the school-record 13 victories the 2001-02 team had (13-2).
Early-Season Quick Hits
... Arizona State has won its last five games, which matches the team's longest winning streak from last year. The Sun Devils have won those five games by an average of 35.2 points per contest and have an unofficial RPI of 25 as of Sunday, Dec. 5.
... The Sun Devils have also averaged 78.6 points and 37.0 rebounds and shot 50.2 percent during that five-game winning streak while holding opponents to 43.4 points and 25.2 rebounds per game in that stretch.
... ASU shot just 54.2 percent from the free throw line last weekend (32-59) after leading the league after connecting on 72.4 percent of its free throws in the first five games of the year (76-105). Arizona State has attempted 56 more free throws than the team's opponents this season (164 compared to 108).
... Sophomore Emily Westerberg continues to be outstanding from the charity stripe and is leading the team and ranked fourth in the Pac-10 in free throw shooting at 88.0 percent (22-25).
... Seniors Kylan Loney and Betsy Boardman have each knocked down 117 career three-pointers to tie for second on the Arizona State career lists with Amanda Levens (2000-02). Crystal Cobb holds the ASU career record with 134 treys (1990-94).
... In the last four games, the Sun Devils have shot 53.1 percent from three-point land (23-42), including a season-high 60.0 percent in their Nov. 27 win over Prairie View A&M. ASU tied the school record with nine three-pointers made in the game vs. the Lady Panthers. The Sun Devils finished fifth in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting last year at 33.8 percent but shot just 20.0 percent from beyond the arc in their first three games this year (6-30).
... Loney, who ranked sixth in the Pac-10 last year at 37.8 percent, was shooting just 16.7 percent from three-point range (2-12) in the first three games. In the last four games, however, she has knocked down 60.0 percent of her attempts (12-20) and has climbed to 43.8 percent for the season. Loney had a similar start last year, shooting 15.4 percent in the first five games and lighting it up for 41.0 percent in the last 24 contests (41-100).
... Freshman Reagan Pariseau ranks third in the Pac-10 at 54.5 percent (6-11) from three-point land, including a 4-of-5 effort Nov. 27 against Prairie View.
... After averaging 25.0 turnovers per game in its first three contests, Arizona State has turned the ball over just 17.0 times in its last four, including a season-low 13 Nov. 26 against Seton Hall.
... ASU is tied for third in the Pac-10 with 13.3 steals per game 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. Arizona State has been in double figures for steals in six of its seven games this year and turned in a season-high 19 steals in its Nov. 20 win over San Diego with four Sun Devils turning in three steals apiece in the victory.
... Senior Carrie Buckner is leading the team with 2.9 steals per game and had nine in the two games last week, including a season-high five in ASU's Dec. 4 win over Gonzaga.
... In addition to tying the school record for the fewest points allowed in a single game, ASU's 102-30 win over Prairie View A&M on Nov. 27 marked the second-biggest margin of victory in school history. The only bigger win in the 29 years of ASU women's basketball was an 83-point victory when the Sun Devils defeated Luke Air Force Base 125-42 on Dec. 13, 1980.
... ASU holds a perfect 19-0 record (2-0 under head coach Charli Turner Thorne) when scoring 100 points or more.
... 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 had begun a campaign on the road since the 1995-96 Sun Devil squad went to Ames, Iowa for the Cyclone Classic.
Turner Thorne Second in All-Time Wins at ASUWith a 129-113 record in nine seasons at ASU, Turner Thorne needs just five 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 NextAfter Tuesday's game at No. 6/6 Georgia, the Sun Devils will take a week off for final exams (Dec. 15) before traveling to Albuquerque, N.M., for a Dec. 18 matchup with New Mexico. ASU will wrap up nonconference play on Tuesday, Dec. 21 against No. 8/8 Connecticut at Wells Fargo Arena before hitting the road to open Pac-10 play at Washington State and Washington on Dec. 27 and 29, respectively.