No. 14 ASU Women's Basketball To Face No. 8 UNC in Mexico

Nov. 25, 2005

THIS WEEK: The No. 14 (USA Today/ESPN coaches Poll) Arizona State women's basketball travels to Cancun, Mexico, where it will compete in the Caribbean Classic. One of six teams competing in Cancun, ASU will play games against No. 8 North Carolina (Fri., Nov. 25 @12:40 p.m. Arizona time) and Mississippi State (Sat., Nov. 26 @ 6:10 p.m. Arizona time).

The Sun Devils enter this week with a 3-0 record after winning the WBCA/BTI Classic with victories over (then No. 16) Vanderbilt and Missouri two weeks ago. Then last Sunday the Devils went on the road for the first time this season and held off a determined San Diego team, 67-63.

North Carolina won both of its games to start the season ­-- 86-48 over Davidson and 87-36 over Liberty. The Tar Heels ended Arizona State's 2004-05 season with a 79-72 win in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament held in Tempe.

Mississippi State comes into this week's action with a 1-1 record. The Lady Bulldogs defeated Southeastern Louisiana 71-55 before falling to East Tennessee State 78-53.

This is the fourth time in the last seven seasons that ASU has started off a season 3-0. With a victory over North Carolina, the Sun Devils would move to 4-0 for the third time (2000-01 and 2002-03) in Charli Turner Thorne's 10 seasons directing the Arizona State women's basketball program. The highest number of victories ASU has had to start a season under Turner Thorne was five in 2002-03.

RADIO: Both of Arizona State's games at the Caribbean Classic can be heard live on KXAM 1310 AM. Valley veteran broadcast Jeff Munn is in his second year as the voice of ASU women's basketball. Coverage of both games will be preceded by a pre-game show (noon on Friday and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday).

DID YOU KNOW? Arizona State's current No. 15 ranking in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll is the program's highest ranking in either of the major polls (ESPN/USA Today or Associated Press) since Nov. 18, 1983 when it was also ranked No. 15 in the AP poll. Last season, the Sun Devils closed the season ranked No. 16 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.

ASU HEAD COACH Charli Turner Thorne: The winningest coach in Sun Devil history (150-122), Turner Thorne has led the Sun Devils to a school record six consecutive post season appearances (NCAA Tournament in 2001-02 and 2005, WNIT in 2000, 2003-04 ... Last season, guided ASU to a 24-10 overall record and its first NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance in 22 years ... Led her 2001-02 team to a 25-9 record, tying the ASU record for wins in a single season ... Guided ASU to a share of the Pac-10 title in 2001 and the Pac-10 Tournament title in 2002, the first league championships in school history ... Led Northern Arizona University to consecutive winning seasons in 1994-95 and 1995-96, the first coach in school history to accomplish that feat ... As a player, lettered four years at Stanford under Tara VanDerveer ... Graduated from Stanford in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and later earned her master's degree in education from Washington in 1990. Career Record: 190-162

PROOF IS IN THE NUMBERS: Playing in the Pac-10, one of the most competitive women's basketball conferences in the country, it is often difficult for programs to turn around patterns of inconsistency and break into the upper echelon of the conference because of the ability of the top schools to maintain their status. When Charli Turner Thorne took over as head coach of Arizona State in 1996, she inherited a program that had never won a Pac-10 title and had previously been unable to sustain a consistent patter of winning ... Now things are different. As she enters her 10th season in Tempe, Turner Thorne has established the Sun Devil women's basketball as a program which now consistently challenges for the conference title. In 2001, Turner Thorne guided ASU to a share of the Pac-10 title and in 2002 the Sun Devils captured the Pac-10 Tournament title, the first league championship in school history. Entering the 2005-06 season, the Sun Devils have won the second-highest number of overall games in the Pac-10 since the 2000-01 season. The model of consistency Turner Thorne has established in the Valley of the Sun clearly shows that ASU basketball can now be considered not only one of the top teams in the Pac-10, but also in the nation.

SERIES HISTORY VERSUS NORTH CAROLINA: North Carolina has won both of the all-time meetings between the two schools ... ASU fell to the No. 10 Tar Heels 72-68 in Chapel Hill in 1999 ... Last season, the Tar Heels defeated Arizona State in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament held in Tempe, 79-72. Former Sun Devil Kylan Loney led the Sun Devils in scoring with 18 points. Current Sun Devils Kristen Kovesdy (13 points), Aubree Johnson (12 points, 12 rebounds) and Emily Westerberg (12 points) all scored in double figures for the Sun Devils.

SERIES HISTORY VERSUS MISSISSIPPI STATE: This will be the first ever meeting between the Sun Devils and Lady Bulldogs.

WESTERBERG AND KOVESDY LEAD THE WAY: Through the season's first three games the Sun Devils have been paced on the offensive side of the floor by junior F Emily Westerberg and senior F/C Kristen Kovesdy. In ASU's season opening win over Vanderbilt, Westerberg had 16 of her 18 points in the second half (6-9 FGs) while Kovesdy had 11 of her 14 points in the second half (5-6 FGs). Combined, Westerberg and Kovesdy had 27 of ASU's 48 second half points against Vanderbilt and shot a combined 73 percent from the field (11-15) against Vanderbilt. The following day against Missouri, Kovesdy led the way with 16 points while Westerberg added 12. In their first road game of the season at San Diego, the Sun Devils once again relied on the shooting touch of Westerberg and Kovesdy to lead them to victory. After falling behind early, Kovesdy helped keep the Sun Devils close as she scored nine of her 12 points in the first half. In the second half, it was Westerberg who took over, scoring 12 of her 14 points in the final 20 minutes to help hold on and win 67-63. For the season, Westerberg and Kovesdy have combined to shoot 63 percent from the field (31-49).FREE THROWS: ASU has shot exactly 50 percent in the second half of every game this season -- 16 of 32 vs. Vanderbilt; 10 of 20 vs. Missouri and 13 of 26 at San Diego ... The Sun Devils have outscored their opponents 123-98 in the second half this season ... ASU has either tied or outrebounded its opponent in all three games this season ... ASU's opponents are averaging 25.7 points per game ... ASU has nine players averaging 10 or more minutes per game ... As a team, ASU is shooting 76 percent from the free throw line. The Sun Devils made 24 free throws in their win over Missouri (Nov. 12), the most free throws they have made in a game since they made 32 free throws in a 73-53 win over No. 7 Stanford on February 7, 2004.

KOVESDY CLOSES IN ON 1,000: Senior F/C Kristen Kovesdy enters this week's action with 997 career points. With three more points, Kovesdy will become the 16th Sun Devil all time to score 1,000 or more career points. Through the season's first three games Kovesdy has proven to be a consistent offensive weapon for the Sun Devils. Kovesdy leads the team in field goal percent (.654) among players who have attempted at least 10 shots in 2005. Kovesdy has scored in double figures in ASU's last seven games going back to the 2004-05 campaign. Last season, Kovesdy led the Pac-10 in field goal percentage, shooting 61.3 percent from the field (168-274), including a perfect 7-of-7 night Feb. 26 against Washington and 9-of-11 efforts Dec. 4 vs. Gonzaga and again in ASU's NCAA first-round win over Eastern Kentucky. At 61.3 percent for the year, Kovesdy broke ASU's single-season shooting mark, previously held by Monique Ambers who shot 58.8 percent from the field in 1992-93 (142-243). She also moved into first on the ASU career field goal percentage chart at 56.6 percent (372- 657), just ahead of Melody Johnson who shot 56.2 percent from 2000-02 (349-621). Kovesdy finished second on the team and 12th in the Pac-10 in scoring at 11.2 points per game this season, just two points behind junior Emily Westerberg (11.3 ppg).

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Last season, ASU finished the season with a 12-2 mark at Wells Fargo Arena, including a Dec. 21 upset of then eighth-ranked UConn. The team's NCAA Sweet Sixteen loss to No. 4/2 North Carolina snapped a seven-game home winning streak. Prior to that loss, the Sun Devils had won 17 of their previous 18 home contests and 30 of 33 at Wells Fargo Arena. In the last three seasons, the team turned in a 26-3 home record (.893). ASU's Jan. 7, 2005 loss to then No. 8/8 Stanford snapped the team's 10-game winning streak at Wells Fargo Arena and marked the team's first loss at home since Jan. 14, 2004. Since 1999, the Sun Devils hold a 76-16 record at home (.822). The Sun Devils turned in a 13-1 record at Wells Fargo Arena in 2003-04, 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). In 2002-03, ASU went 13-4 at Wells Fargo Arena which matched the school-record 13 victories the 2001-02 team had (13-2).

NOE RETURNS FOR ASU: The 2005-06 season marked the return Sun Devil G Jill Noe to the hardwood. Noe missed each of the last two seasons with ACL injuries after earning Pac-10 All-Freshman honors following the 2002-03 season. That season, Noe started 29 of 30 games for ASU and led the team and finished 11th in the Pac-10 in scoring with 12.6 points per game. ACL injuries in October of 2003 and June of 2004 put her promising Sun Devil career on hold. In her first `official' action since 2002-03, Noe scored a combined 15 points last week in ASU's victories over No. 16 Vanderbilt and Missouri. Against the Commodores, Noe also added five assists and four steals.

SUN DEVILS PICKED TO FINISH FOURTH IN THE PAC-10: ASU was picked to finish fourth in the Pac-10 at the conference's media day which was held earlier this month in San Jose, Calif. Last season, the Sun Devils were also picked to finish fourth and ended up finishing tied for second with a 12-6 conference mark. Individually speaking, junior forward Emily Westerberg was named to the Pac-10's 2005-06 Preseason All-Conference Team.

AGAINST RANKED TEAMS: This week's game against North Carolina marks the 12th game ASU has played against a ranked team the last two seasons. The Sun Devils' victory over No. 16 Vanderbilt earlier this month now gives them a 6-5 record against ranked teams during that span. Last season, ASU turned in a 5-5 record against ranked opponents, including a 61-50 upset of then No. 8/8 Connecticut on Dec. 21 and a 70-61 victory over then No. 11/13 Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Four of ASU's five losses came against teams ranked No. 1 in the national polls at one point during the season (Nov. 12 at LSU, three losses to Stanford), while the other came in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen against then No. 4/2 North Carolina. ASU's 67-57 win at then No. 11/14 Georgia on Dec. 7 marked the team's first victory over a ranked opponent on the road since the Sun Devils defeated then No. 15 USC 64-55 on March 11, 1993.

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Arizona State has established itself as one of the top defensive teams in the Pac-10 Conference and the nation. The Sun Devils have led the league in at least one defensive category in each of the last seven seasons (1998-99 to present). In 2004-05, ASU paced the Pac-10 in scoring defense (54.7 points per game) for the third time in school history, rebounding defense (32.2 rebounds per game) for the fourth time in five years and three-point defense (25.4 percent) for the fourth straight season and the sixth time in seven years. ASU also finished the year ranked 15th in the nation in scoring defense. Last season, ASU set or tied its school single-season marks in all three categories -scoring, rebounding and three-point defense. The 2001-02 squad had previously held the school record for fewest points allowed at 59.1, while at 54. 7 ppg, ASU also broke the Pac-10 record for scoring defense in 2004-05, previously held by Stanford which gave up just 58.4 points per game in 2003-04. Last year's squad also allowed a school-record 32.2 rebounds per game, while at 25.4 percent, ASU shattered the previous mark of 27.1 per-cent from three-point land that the 1998-99 team allowed. ASU held 21 of its 34 opponents under 60 points, 13 to 50 points or fewer and four under 40 points. The Sun Devils set the school record for fewest points by a Pac-10 oppo-nent in a 50-38 win over Oregon State on Jan. 20 and tied the school mark for fewest points allowed in all games 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 A&M 43-9 in the win. In three games with Stanford, which lead the Pac-10 and finished fourth in the nation in scoring at 77.8 points per game, the Sun Devils held the Cardinal to just 63.7, including a season-low 56 in the Pac-10 Championship game on March 7. ASU also matched its school record for fewest points allowed in a half when it held Washington State to nine in the opening frame of its Feb. 26 victory. In the last seven seasons (since the start of the 1998-99 season to present), ASU has held its opponents to just 61.5 points and 33.7 rebounds per game and 28.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc (13,101 pts, 7,183 rbs, 579-2009 treys, 213 games).

WESTERBERG COMES TO PLAY: A 2005 first-team All-Pac-10 honoree, junior forward Emily Westerberg led the Sun Devils and ranked 10th in the Pac-10 in scoring at 11.3 points per game in 2004-05, including a team-high 20 points in ASU's NCAA first-round win over Eastern Kentucky. She also finished second on the team in rebounding at 4.9 boards per game. Westerberg paced the Sun Devils in scoring (11.5 ppg) and rebounding (5.6 rpg) in Pac-10 play. Westerberg turned in 19 games in double figures for scoring last season, which was second on the team, including a career-best 26 points in a Jan. 22 win over Oregon. She scored 18 points in ASU's Dec. 21 upset of then eighth-ranked Connecticut. She pulled down 11 rebounds Jan. 14 at UCLA and had a career-best 14 Jan. 20 vs. Oregon State. Westerberg turned in her first career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds vs. UCLA on Feb. 12. Westerberg was also outstanding from the free throw line in 2004-05, finishing third in the Pac-10 and 26th in the nation at 84.9 percent from the charity stripe (101-119). She made 19 of her last 22 free throw attempts over the last six games of the year, including 6-of-6 vs. Eastern Kentucky in the NCAA first round and again vs. No. 4/2 North Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen. Westerberg already ranks sixth on the ASU career list for free throw percentage at 79.4 percent (135-170).

AUBREE'S ANTICS: Junior forward Aubree Johnson kicked her game up a notch over the last month of last season, averaging 9.4 points and 6.8 rebounds over the last nine games, including the first double-double of her career with 12 points and 10 rebounds in ASU's NCAA Sweet Sixteen game vs. then No. 4/2 North Carolina. Johnson led the team and ranked 17th in the Pac-10 in rebounding with 5.1 boards per game and was fifth on the squad with 6.1 points per contest. She paced the Sun Devils in rebounding in nine games this season, including each of the last four games of the year (9.0 rpg in that stretch). Johnson scored a career-best 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting in ASU's Jan. 24 win over Washington and matched that career mark with 14 points in ASU's Pac-10 Tournament semifinal victory over Oregon on March 6. She played one of ASU's finest minutes of the season in that game vs. the Ducks, scoring six points, including the go-ahead leaning jumper, and grabbing the game-clinching steal in the final 47 seconds of that game. She followed that effort up with 12 rebounds, including seven offensive boards (both career highs), to go along with six points in ASU's Pac-10 Championship game loss to then No. 1/2 Stanford. In the NCAA Tournament, Johnson averaged 11.3 points and 8.0 rebounds, up from her season marks of 6.1 ppg and 5.1 rpg.

UP NEXT: The Sun Devils return home to host the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic, which will feature Holy Cross, Western Kentucky and Memphis. Arizona State will face Memphis on Fri., Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m. Holy Cross and Western Kentucky will follow at 8:30 p.m. The following day (Sat., Dec. 3), the losing teams from the first two games will square off at 4 p.m. with the championship game of the Wells Fargo Classic to follow at approximately 6:30 p.m.

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