No. 10 Sun Devils Travel to Tucson for Pac-10 Opener
Dec. 21, 2005
Winners of six straight games, the No. 10 Arizona State women's basketball team (9-1) will look to tie its longest winning streak under head coach Charli Turner Thorne when it travels to Tucson on Thursday night (7 p.m.) to take on in-state rival Arizona (4-5). It will be the Pac-10 opener for both teams.
RADIO: Thursday night's game at Arizona can be heard live both on KXAM 1310 AM and on the Internet (SunDevilSportsNetwork.com). Coverage will begin with 'Countdown to Tip-Off' at 6:30 p.m. Valley veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his second year as the voice of ASU women's basketball. He will be joined on the broadcast by Seth Sulka, General Manager of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR Currently 9-1, the Sun Devils are off to their best start since the 1991-92 season when they were also 9-1. A win vs. Arizona would give ASU its best start since the 1990-91 season when it began 10-1. Currently No. 10 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll, the Sun Devils are in the top 10 for the first time in 22 years. Winners of their last six games coming into Thursday night's game, the Sun Devils would tie their longest winning streak (seven games, 2000-01 team and 2001-02 team) under head coach Charli Turner Thorne with a win over Arizona. Turner Thorne needs four more wins to reach 200 for her career. In the ASU-UA series, the home team has won the last eight regular season games. Coming into the game the Sun Devils are No. 7 in the nation in FG pct (48.4) and are No. 4 in the nation in assists per game (20.1). Currently No. 2 in the Pac-10 in rebounding margin (+7.8), the Sun Devils have out-rebounded their opponents eight times this season. In her last two games, junior F Emily Westerberg has averaged 16.0 points and 7.0 rebounds and has shot 61.1 percent from the field.
DID YOU KNOW? Arizona State's current No. 10 ranking in this week's USA Today/ESPN coaches poll marks the first time in 22 years that the Sun Devils have cracked the top 10 in one of the major polls. The last time ASU was ranked in the top 10 was when it was No. 10 in the AP poll the week of Jan. 22, 1983. The highest ranking the Sun Devils have ever achieved is No. 9 (AP poll, January 9, 1983).
ASU HEAD COACH Charli Turner Thorne: The winningest coach in Sun Devil history (156-123), 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, Turner Thorne 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: 196-163
SERIES HISTORY VERSUS ARIZONA: Arizona State holds a 36-25 advantage in the all-time series with Arizona, including a 15-14 advantage in games played in Tucson. The home team has won the last eight games in the series. The last visiting team to win was ASU when it earned a 70-67 overtime victory in Tucson on Feb. 24, 2001. 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 teams played another seven games before that first varsity season with UA winning five of seven). ASU snapped a 14-game losing streak to the Wildcats in 2000-01 with its first season sweep of the U-of-A 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).
HOMECOMING FOR ENGELBRECHT: Thursday night's game will be a homecoming of sorts for Sun Devil freshman G Kate Engelbrecht, who is a 2005 graduate of Catalina Foothills High in Tucson. The 2005 Southern Arizona Player of the Year, Engelbrecht helped lead her team to four straight Kino Region titles and four appearances in the Arizona state high school championships. As a senior at Catalina, Engelbrecht averaged 16.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 4.0 steals per game.
ASU DURING ITS CURRENT SIX-GAME WINNING STREAK ... Averaging 78.3 points per game and has out-scored its opponents by an average of 20.7 points per game. The Sun Devils have jumped on their opponents early, out-scoring them 240-158 in the first half. ASU's average first half lead has been 13.5 points. Furthermore, the Sun Devils are plus-30 (76-46) in the turnover department in the first half of those games and have scored 79 points off those 68 forced turnovers compared to 39 points for their opponents. Shooting 48.5 percent from the field. Has made 13 more three-point field goals (28-15) than its opponents. Is shooting 76.6 percent from the free throw line and has made 37 more free throws (98-61) than the opposition. Has double the number of its opponents assists (130-65). Has out-rebounded its opponents 233-165, an average of +11.3 rebounds per game. The 54 rebounds ASU had vs. Memphis were its most since grabbing 55 vs. UCLA on January 16, 2003 ... Its 24 offensive rebounds were also the most since its 24 offensive rebounds vs. UCLA (1/16/03). Senior F Kristen Kovesdy is leading the Sun Devils in rebounding during their current winning streak, averaging 6.7 per game. Kovesdy has led the team in scoring the last six games, averaging 12.5 points per game. She is shooting 56.9 percent during that span. Also averaging double figures the last six games have been redshirt junior G Jill Noe (12.3 ppg, 47.1 percent from three-point range) and junior F Emily Westerberg (11.8 ppg). Sophomore G Reagan Pariseau has 24 assists to only nine turnovers and is shooting 55 percent from the field (11-20), including 50 percent from three-point range (6-12). Coming off the bench, senior Amy Denson has averaged 9.5 points (54.3 FG pct.) and 4.8 rebounds.
HOME SWEET HOME: With their victory over UT-San Antonio on December 19, the Sun Devils extended their regular season home court winning streak to 13 games. The Sun Devils are now 31-2 in regular season home games going back to the 2003-04 season. In those 33 games the Sun Devils are out-scoring their opponents by more than 16 points (71.4 - 55.1) and are shooting almost seven percentage points higher (45.0 - 38.4).
SHOOTING FOR THE TOP: Despite shooting 42 percent in the season's first two games, including 15 percent from three-point range, ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne insisted that she had no concerns about her team's shooting. It is now easy to see why. Coming into this week's game, the Sun Devils are No. 1 in the Pac-10 and No. 7 in the nation shooting 48.4 percent from the field. In their last eight games the Sun Devils are shooting 49.9 percent from the field, including 39.8 percent from three-point range (35-88).
SUN DEVILS REBOUND FROM LOSS (LITERALLY): In their 79-72 loss to No. 8 North Carolina earlier this season, the Sun Devils were out-rebounded by the Tar Heels (38-28), the first and only time this season that ASU had fewer rebounds than its opponent. Following the loss, ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne felt it was rebounding that made the difference in the game.
'Our inability to rebound hurt us,' said Turner Thorne. 'We did not box out and do the things we talked about doing when it came to rebounding and that is what made the difference.'
The following night against Mississippi State, the Sun Devils dominated the Lady Bulldogs, winning by a 22-point margin, 70-48. In the rebounding department the Sun Devils responded to Turner Thorne's challenge to rebound better, grabbing 13 more rebounds than the Lady Bulldogs (34-21). In fact the 21 rebounds by Mississippi State are tied for the fewest rebounds by a Pac-10 opponent this season.
The Sun Devils would take it a step further one week later vs. Memphis and Western Kentucky in which they would post their two highest rebound totals of the season. Against Memphis the Sun Devils grabbed 54 rebounds, their most since grabbing 55 vs. UCLA on January 16, 2003. Their 24 offensive rebounds vs. the Tigers were also the most since their 24 offensive rebounds vs. UCLA (1/16/03). The following night against Western Kentucky, ASU tallied 38 rebounds to 27 for the Lady Toppers.
Coming into Thursday night's game, the Sun Devils are No. 2 in the Pac-10 in rebounding margin (+7.8). During their current six-game winning streak, the Sun Devils have out-rebounded their opponents 233-165, an average of +11.3 rebounds per game.
KOVESDY NAMED ONE OF 30 FINALISTS FOR BAYER ADVANTAGE SENIOR CLASS AWARD: ASU senior F Kristen Kovesdy was recently named one of 30 finalists for the Bayer Advantage Senior Class Award, which is presented annually to the nation's senior player-of-the-year for NCAA Division I men's and women's basketball. From the list of 30 nominees, a national media committee will select 10 finalists for the award in February as the conference season hits its peak. Those ten names will be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide voting process during the NCAA Tournament in March. Fan balloting will be coupled with results from voting by coaches and media to determine the winner. ASU's all-time leader in field goal percentage and currently No. 10 on its all-time scoring list, Kovesdy currently leads the Sun Devils in scoring (13.4 ppg) and rebounding (6.7 rpg) and leads the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (59.1 percent).
KOVESDY CLIMBS THE CHARTS: With 17 points in ASU's 78-64 victory over UT-San Antonio on Monday, senior F Kristen Kovesdy continued to move closer to passing former Sun Devil Jovonne Smith (1,134 points, 1989-93) for No. 9 on the all-time scoring list. Kovesdy now needs 46 points for the No. 9 spot. With 60 more points Kovesdy will pass former Sun Devil Lisa Salsman (1,148 points, 1989-93) for No. 8 on the all-time scoring list.
FREE THROWS: ASU has nine players averaging 10 or more minutes per game ... Jill Noe's 20 points against North Carolina are the most by a Sun Devil in any game this season ... ASU has had the same starting five in every game this season: Reagan Pariseau (G), Jill Noe (G), Emily Westerberg (F), Aubree Johnson (F) and Kristen Kovesdy (F/C) ... Westerberg leads the Sun Devils in minutes per game, averaging 27.6 ... Among players coming off the bench, freshman G Briann January currently leads the Sun Devils in minutes per game (18.6). She has played 20 or more minutes in ASU's last four games ... Freshman G Kate Engelbrecht has made the most of the shots she has taken, having hit 67 percent of them (8-12) ... In their 10 games the Sun Devils have been led in scoring by four different players (half game denotes Kovesdy and Westerberg tied with 17 points vs. UT-San Antonio on Dec. 19) -- Noe (3), Westerberg (3.5), Kovesdy (2.5), Denson (1).
WHAT'S NEXT FOR CHARLI? Arizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne added another great accomplishment to her coaching dossier last week when it was revealed that ASU was ranked No. 10 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll. For the Sun Devils it was their first appearance in the top 10 of a major poll in 22 years. If the figure `22 years' sounds familiar it's because last season Turner Thorne led the Sun Devils to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 22 years.
Currently in the midst of her 10th season in Tempe, Turner Thorne has more than established the Sun Devils as one of the teams to watch on an annual basis in the Pac-10 Conference. In fact, since the 2000-01 season, the Sun Devils have won the second-highest number of overall games (111) in the Pac-10 Conference.
Turner Thorne is currently No. 8 among Pac-10 coaches in all-time victories with 156. With five more wins, Turner Thorne will pass former Oregon head coach Jody Runge for No. 7 on the Pac-10's all-time list. With four more wins, Turner Thorne will earn the 200th overall coaching victory of her career.
UP NEXT: ASU returns home to face the Washington schools. The Sun Devils will take on Washington on Thursday December 29 at 6 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena. Two days later on New Year's Eve, ASU will host Washington State at 2 p.m.