ASU Women's Basketball Opens NCAA Tournament Against Temple on Sunday Night
March 21, 2008
The Arizona State women's basketball team (21-10, 14-4 Pac-10) commences play in the 2008 NCAA Tournament this Sunday when it travels to College Park, Md., to take on Temple University (21-12, 12-2) out of the Atlantic 10 Conference. Tip-off at the Comcast Center is scheduled for approximately 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT.
After an injury-plagued preseason combined with one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country led to a 6-5 start, the Sun Devils responded with a trio of five-game winning streaks over the next two months to secure their fourth consecutive 20-win season. As a result the Sun Devils were rewarded with their fourth straight NCAA Tournament berth, earning a No. 6 seed in the Oklahoma City Regional.
Last season ASU had its best ever showing in the NCAA Tournament, concluding its run with its first appearance in the Elite Eight. The Sun Devils fell one step short of reaching the Final Four after falling to Rutgers 64-45 in the Greensboro Regional final.
ASU's current run of fourth straight NCAA Tournament berths and four straight 20-win seasons are the longest such streaks in program history. All of the success has come under 12th-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne, who is No. 5 in the Pac-10 in most career wins with 224.
Sunday's game will be ASU's first since it fell to Cal 65-61 on March 9 in the semifinals of the Pac-10 Tournament. The Sun Devils nearly overcame a 16-point deficit after sophomore guard Dymond Simon scored 12 points during an 18-6 ASU run in the final five minutes. Simon, who ended with a season-best 22 points, was named to the Pac-10 All-Tournament Team.
Given the No. 11 seed as an at-large bid, Temple is making its seventh overall and fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. After starting the season 7-10, the Owls closed strong winning 14 of their last 16 games with their only losses coming to Xaiver, including a 47-42 setback in the Atlantic 10 finals. Temple is led by All-Atlantic 10 performers senior guard Ashley Morris (15.1 ppg, 4.5 apg) and senior center Lady Comfort (9.4 ppg, 8.5 apg). The Owls are coached by former Olympian and WNBA All-Star Dawn Staley, who is in her eighth season.
The winner of Sunday's game will meet the winner of the contest between third-seeded Duke and the No. 14 seed Murray State on Tuesday night at either 7 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. ET (4 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. PT).
ASU's game vs. Temple can be seen live on ESPN2. Pam Ward (play-by-play) and Nancy Lieberman (analysis) will call the game and Holly Rowe will report from the sidelines. The game can also be heard live on KDUS 1060 AM and on the sundevilsportsnetwork.com (subscription-based service). Coverage of the game will begin at 6 p.m. in the Valley. Veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his fourth year as the voice of ASU women's basketball.
ASU IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
This marks ASU's ninth all-time NCAA Tournament appearance and its sixth in the last eight seasons.
ASU is making its fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
This is the second time that ASU has been a No. 6 seed. The Sun Devils were the No.6 seed in the Midwest Region in 1992 when they lost to host school DePaul in the first round, 67-65. The highest seed ASU has ever had is No. 3, which came last season in the Greensboro Region.
ASU's overall record in the NCAA Tournament is 9-8, including a 7-5 record under Charli Turner Thorne.
Prior to last year's berth in the Elite Eight, the furthest ASU had ever reached was the round of 16 (1982, 1983 and 2005). In both 1982 and `83, the fourth-seeded Sun Devils lost to the eventual national champion in the round of 16, falling to Louisiana Tech in 1982 and USC in 1983.
As a No. 4 seed in 2006 the Sun Devils defeated Stephen F. Austin in the first round in Tucson (80-61) before falling to Utah in the second round (65-86). The Utes would eventually advance to the Albuquerque Regional final where they nearly upset eventual national champion Maryland before falling in overtime.
Three years ago as the No. 5 seed the Sun Devils advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in 22 years before falling to North Carolina, 79-72. The tourney began with an 87-65 victory over No. 12 seeded Eastern Kentucky at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. The Sun Devils then advanced to the Sweet Sixteen after upsetting No. 5 seeded Notre Dame, 70-61. In that game the Sun Devils overcame a 13-point first half deficit. In the Sweet Sixteen against UNC, the Sun Devils led by as many as 10 points and were within two points, 60-62, with 9:29 remaining before the Tar Heels closed out the game with a 17-12 run.
ASU's first NCAA appearance in the Turner Thorne era came in 2001. As the No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region, the Sun Devils fell to No. 6 seeded LSU in the first round, 83-66.
Turner Thorne earned her first victory in the NCAA Tournament the following year after the No. 9 seeded Sun Devils defeated No. 8 seeded Wisconsin in the first round of the Midwest sub-regional, 73-70. ASU would fall to top-seeded Vanderbilt in the second round, 61-35.
ASU VERSUS ....
ASU and Temple have met on two occasions, however are more than 20 years removed from the most recent meeting in 1987, an 87-68 Sun Devil win. ASU won the only other meeting, 66-65 in 1982. In terms of potential second round matchups, the Sun Devils have never faced Duke or Murray State. After the Sun Devils defeated Bowling Green in the Greensboro Regional semifinal last season it appeared they were on track to meet the top-seeded Blue Devils in the regional final before Duke was upset by Rutgers.
2007 NCAA TOURNAMENT RECAP
The Arizona State women's basketball team, riding the success of the best season in school history, earned a third consecutive bid to the NCAA Tournament and a spot in the Elite Eight. The eighth-ranked Sun Devils received a No. 3 seed in the Greensboro Region, their highest-ever placement in the NCAA Tournament.
In the first round, ASU was able to overcome a lackluster shooting effort with tough defense to defeat a pesky UC Riverside team, 57-50. ASU secured the win by outscoring the Highlanders 19-2 with just under eight minutes to go in the game. Briann January scored 15 points and Danielle Orsillo added 13 points and four assists.
In the second round ASU once again showed its tenacity in overcoming another slow start against Louisville. Down by 12 with eight minutes remaining, the Sun Devils used a 25-4 run to clinch their second Sweet Sixteen appearance in three years with a 67-58 win. January again lead the Sun Devils in scoring, matching her career high with 22 points.
In its two first round games, ASU outscored its two opponents by a combined 44-6 in the final eight minutes to turn near season-ending losses into season-saving wins.
The third round provided little challenge for ASU, as the Sun Devils, who were playing more than 2,000 miles away from home in Greensboro, N.C., defeated the upstart Bowling Green Falcons 67-49. With the win, the Sun Devils punched their ticket for their first ever Elite Eight appearance.
Orsillo, who replaced January as a starter due to a concussion she suffered in the final moments against Louisville, scored 16 points on 7-12 shooting to go along with three rebounds and two assists all while playing a career-high 34 minutes. The Sun Devils, who shot 61 percent in the first half to take a 16-point halftime lead, also racked up 16 points off turnovers. Bowling Green made the first basket of the game but would not lead again. ASU answered Bowling Green's points with a 14-2 run, capped off by consecutive 3-pointers from Orsillo.
In the Elite Eight, ASU took on a determined Rutgers team which used tough defense to muddle the Sun Devils' offensive efforts. The Scarlet Knights held Arizona State to one field goal in the first eight and a half minutes of the second half. For the game, ASU shot 32.7 percent from the field. Kirsten Thompson's jumper pulled Arizona State within nine in the second half, but the basket was answered by seven straight Rutgers points which put the game out of reach. The Sun Devils ended the season one game shy of the Final Four, losing to the Scarlet Knights 64-45. January scored 12 points for ASU, helping the Sun Devils advance farther than any other team in school history. At the end of the season, Arizona State also accumulated the most wins in school history with 31.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
In the first half of their last six games the Sun Devils have outscored their opponents by an average of more than 12 points (36.7-24.3). Helping their cause have been advantages in shooting percentage (50.9-35.8) and turnovers (+3.2). In addition, the Sun Devils have had almost three times the number of assists (62-23) as their opponents.
In the final regular season Pac-10 rankings ASU was ranked in the top three in three-point FG pct. defense (1st, .260), assists (1st, 17.1 apg), assist-to-turnover ratio (2nd, 0.89), rebounding defense (2nd, 32.7 rpg), field goal percentage (2nd, .443), steals (2nd, 9.34 spg), scoring defense (3rd, 58.4 ppg), scoring margin (3rd, +6.7) and three-point FG pct (3rd, .339).
Jill Noe (29-9) and Briann January (18-4) have combined for a nearly 4-1 assist-to-turnover ratio (47-13) in ASU's last five games. Reagan Pariseau has had similar success with a 25-10 assist-to-turnover ratio over ASU's last 12 games.
Noe (1,194 career points) needs one point to pass Jodi Rathbun (1983-86) for ninth place on ASU's all-time scoring list. Also one of ASU's all-time top three-point threats Noe is second on ASU's all-time list with 135 three-point FGs. Noe is also currently tied with teammate Briann January for seventh on ASU's all-time assists list with 366.
Currently with 366 career assists, January needs five assists to move past former Sun Devil Karen O'Connor (1988-91) for sixth place on ASU's all-time list and eight assists to move past Carolyn DeHoff (1987-90) for fifth place. In the steals category (currently sixth place with 191) she needs eight more to pass O'Connor for fifth place.
Sophomore guard Dymond Simon has averaged 11.2 points in ASU's last six games, almost four points more than her average in her first 22 games of the season. Simon was named to the Pac-10 All Tournament Team after averaging 14.5 points and 3.5 assists in ASU's games vs. Washington (Mar. 8) and Cal (Mar. 9). She scored a season-best 22 points against Cal, 12 of which came in the final five minutes (5-6 FGs) during an 18-6 ASU rally which came up four points short of sending the game into overtime.
JANUARY NAMED PAC-10 DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
There are many words which have come to be synonymous with the Sun Devil women's basketball program since Charli Turner Thorne arrived on the scene in 1996. At the top of the list would be the word defense. With that in mind it was fitting that it was an ASU player - Briann January - who was named as the first ever recipient of the Pac-10's Defensive Player of the Year award as voted on by the league's 10 head coaches. While she is one of the most explosive offensive players in the conference, January is equally effective on the defensive end of the floor where she is often disrupting the flow of opposing offenses. Often handed the assignment of defending the opposing team's top scorer, January always rises to the challenge. After finishing third in steals last season, January rose to the top of the thefts list in the Pac-10 this season, averaging 2.4 during the regular season. Eight times this season January has had four or more steals, including a career-best five steals vs. Oregon on Feb. 2. Currently sixth place on ASU's all-time steals list with 191, January needs eight more steals to pass Karen O'Connor for fifth place.
JANUARY AND LACEY EARN ALL-PAC-10 HONORS
Juniors Briann January and Lauren Lacey were both named to the All-Pac-10 Second Team, headlining a list of five Sun Devils who were recognized by the conference. Also earning recognition from the league were seniors Jill Noe (honorable mention) and Reagan Pariseau (honorable mention/defense) and junior Sybil Dosty (honorable mention/defense).
January, who was one of five players named to the preseason All-Pac-10 team as voted on by the league's media, concluded the regular season as the Pac-10 leader in free throw percentage (.864) and steals (2.38 spg), second in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.71), third in assists (4.66 apg) and 16th in scoring (11.0 ppg). This season January, who was also named the Pac-10's Defensive Player of the Year, has scored in double figures in 21 times, including a 22-point performance against Texas (Dec. 22), which tied her career best.
After sitting out a year following her transfer in 2006 from the University of Minnesota, Lacey burst onto the scene to become ASU's most productive offensive player this season. She scored in double figures 23 times in 30 games and concluded the regular season No. 8 in the Pac-10 in scoring (12.9 ppg) and No. 7 in field goal percentage (.495). Lacey has three of the four highest single-game point totals by a Sun Devil this season. She was named the Pac-10's Player of the Week after averaging 18.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals while connecting on nearly 73 percent (16-22) of her field goal attempts in ASU's wins over Washington State (Feb. 21) and Washington (Feb. 24).
NOTES FROM THE SEASON
The 30 points Washington State scored against ASU (Feb. 21) represented the fewest number of points ever scored by a team in a Pac-10 game. It was also the 14th time since the start of last season that ASU has held an opponent under 50 points.
The Sun Devils had 21 assists in their win over Washington on Mar. 8. It's the 19th time going back to the start of last season that ASU has recorded 20 or more assists in a single game. ASU is currently ranked No. 11 in the nation in assists (16.9 apg).
ASU has held the opposition to 20 or fewer points in a half 11 times this season.
Eighteen of ASU's 31 opponents have shot 25 percent or less from three-point range.
Guard Jill Noe is the only ASU player to have started every game this season.
ASU's 10 blocks against California (Jan. 17) not only tied the (then) single-game high in the Pac-10 this season, but also fell one block short of tying the program record which was accomplished by the 1992 squad. As a team, the Sun Devils need one more block to break the school single-season record of 99 set by last year's squad.
The Sun Devils have had six games this season in which four players or more players have scored in double figures, most recently vs. Washington on Mar. 8 when all five starters had double-digit point totals.
In ASU's 66-42 win over UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 17), Jill Noe tallied 12 points, seven rebounds and eight assists and narrowly missed becoming the first Sun Devil to record a triple-double since Ryneldi Becenti in 1992. For Noe, it is the third such time she has flirted with the feat. Last season she recorded 17 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in a win over Northern Arizona and during her freshman season she posted 17 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in a win over Denver.
Since the start of the 2006-07 season, the Sun Devils are 37-2 when they have outrebounded their opponents. The only exceptions came this season when ASU fell to Auburn 75-69 in the championship game of the Verizon Wireless ASU Classic (held a 40-39 edge in rebounding) and when it lost to Stanford 60-56 (ASU held 39-35 rebounding advantage).
ASU's seven turnovers against California in the Pac-10 Tournament semifinals were one more than the tournament record of six for fewest turnovers in a single game.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR CHARLI?
When Arizona State had its named called on Selection Monday it marked the fourth consecutive season that the Sun Devils had earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament, the longest such streak in program history. It was the latest `first time ...' for the Sun Devils under head coach Charli Turner Thorne, who continues to build on what is the most successful period in the program's history. Earlier this season Turner Thorne led ASU to its fourth consecutive 20-win season, also a `first' in school history. Last season Turner Thorne led ASU to its first ever appearance in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. Since the 2004-05 season the Sun Devils are 101-32, including a 6-3 record in NCAA Tournament games.
In 2005-06 Turner Thorne had the Sun Devils in the Top 10 of both polls for the first time in 22 years. If the figure `22 years' sounds familiar it's because in 2004-05 Turner Thorne led the Sun Devils to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 22 years. After leading the Sun Devils to a 25-7 in 2005-06 Turner Thorne was recognized being named the Russell Athletic/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Region 8 Coach of the Year.
Now in her 12th season in Tempe, Turner Thorne has more than established the Sun Devils as one of the teams to watch on an annual basis not only in the Pac-10 Conference, but also across the country. In fact, since the 2000-01 season the Sun Devils have won the second-highest number of overall games (179) in the Pac-10 Conference.
JANUARY PLAYS WITH MARCH STATE OF MIND
This season ASU junior guard Briann January has shown time and again the type of play that has made her one of the top players in the Pac-10 Conference. January, who was recently named the Pac-10's first ever Defensive Player of the Year in addition to the All-Pac-10 Second Team, finished the regular season as the conference leader in free throw percentage (.864) and steals (2.38 spg), third in assists (4.66 apg) and 16th in scoring (11.0 ppg).
Last season January earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors in helping lead ASU to a school record 31 wins and its first Elite Eight appearance in school history. In 2006-07, the 5-8, Spokane, Wash., product finished third in the Pac-10 in steals (2.1 per game), fourth in assists (4.0 per game) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.67), and sixth in free throw percentage (81.7). A starter in 34 games, January concluded her sophomore campaign first on the team in both assists and steals and second in both scoring (10.2 points per game) and free throw percentage.
This season January has scored in double figures in 21 times, including a 22-point performance against Texas (Dec. 22), which tied her career best. In ASU's 75-65 win at Arizona (Jan. 12), January turned in a performance that was nothing short of remarkable. After sitting out the entire week of practice with a knee injury January came off the bench to lead ASU with 19 points while connecting on all seven of her field goal attempts and both free throws, while also adding five assists, one block and one steal.
HELP IS ON THE WAY
Without question, one of the biggest challenges facing ASU coming into the 2007-08 season was figuring out how it would compensate for the loss of All-Pac-10 performers Aubree Johnson and Emily Westerberg. In addition to being responsible for a combined 23.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in 2006-07 the duo also gave ASU a strong inside presence on both ends of the floor.
Enter junior transfers Sybil Dosty and Lauren Lacey. Biding their time since they last played a meaningful game in the spring of 2006, Dosty and Lacey were two players who were very eager to get on the floor and help the Sun Devils ascend to the top. Both players got to take a bit of a test drive with their teammates in real competition during ASU's trip to Italy last May in which the Sun Devils squared off against four different teams from around the country.Dosty spent her first two collegiate seasons at the University of Tennessee where she was part of a Final Four team her freshman year. Lacey, who transferred from the University of Minnesota, was also part of two squads that went to the NCAA Tournament.
During the Pac-10 regular season Lacey and Dosty contributed 23.0 points and 12.4 rebounds per game. The duo collectively averaged 25.8 points and 12.4 rebounds while shooting 61 percent during ASU's most recent five-game winning streak, which was snapped in its last game against California.
Lacey, who was named Second-Team All-Pac-10, is currently leading the team in scoring (12.5 ppg, 14.2 ppg in Pac-10 games) and is second in rebounding (5.8 rpg). She led ASU with a (then) career-best 19 points in its win over Iowa on Nov. 23 and would surpass that total with 20 against Auburn (Dec. 2). She would again exceed her single-game career-best with a 23-point performance at Oregon (Jan. 3). Lacey would top her career best for the fourth time this season with 25 points to go along with a career-high 11 rebounds in ASU's 69-53 win over Washington (Feb. 25). The 11 field goals and 25 points are the most by a Sun Devil in both categories this season. Lacey has three of the four highest single-game point totals by a Sun Devil this season. She would go on to be named the Pac-10's Player of the Week the day following her performance against the Huskies.
The leader in field goal percentage during her two seasons at Tennessee, Dosty is currently shooting 55.0 percent from the field (third in the Pac-10). In late December Dosty averaged 17.0 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 57.9 percent in ASU's come-from-behind victories over UCLA (Dec. 28) and USC (Dec. 30). The Tucson, Ariz., native averaged 13.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in the second half of both games in helping the Sun Devils overcome an eight-point deficit against the Bruins and an 11-point deficit against USC. Dosty was recognized for her performances against the Bruins and Trojans in being named the Pac-10's Player of the Week. In Pac-10 games Dosty was third on the team in scoring (8.8 ppg) and led the squad in rebounding (6.8 rpg). Dosty has led or tied for the team lead in rebounding 16 times this season, including eight times in ASU's last 12 games.
SUN DEVILS WORK THROUGH EARLY SEASON INJURIES When the announcement came down on Dec. 26 that junior guard Danielle Orsillo would miss the remainder of the 2007-08 season because of a knee injury, it capped an unlucky first two months of the season in which Sun Devil players missed a combined 17 games because of injuries.
Orsillo was originally diagnosed with a bone bruise in her left knee one week after scoring a career-best 21 points in ASU's season opener at North Carolina (Nov. 11). She would go on to miss ASU's next 10 regular season games before it was determined that she would miss the rest of the season. In 2006-07 Orsillo scored in double figures 16 times and was one of four Sun Devils to play in all 36 games.
Dymond Simon, a member of the Pac-10's All-Freshman Team last season, was limited early in the season as she returned from a torn ACL she suffered in January, 2007. She was having a strong outing against Texas Tech on Dec. 13, scoring 11 points in 12 minutes before being forced to leave the game after aggravating her knee injury. She would return to the game for two minutes before leaving again. Simon would go on to miss ASU's next two games, including the Sun Devils' 62-51 loss to Texas (Dec. 20). Simon returned in time for the start of conference play and her presence on the floor has had a big impact. She scored a season-best 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting in ASU's 69-60 come-from-behind win at Oregon State (Jan. 5). She added a career-high six assists in the rematch with the Beavers on Jan. 31. At Stanford (Feb. 16) Simon scored 13 points in only 14 minutes of action before being forced to leave the game with a head injury. She remained sidelined for ASU's win against Washington State (Feb. 21) before returning for ASU's following game against Washington (Feb. 24). Simon was named to the Pac-10 All Tournament Team after averaging 14.5 points and 3.5 assists in ASU's games vs. Washington (Mar. 8) and Cal (Mar. 9). She scored a season-best 22 points against Cal, 12 of which came in the final five minutes (5-6 FGs) during an 18-6 ASU rally which came up four points short of sending the game into overtime.
Junior post Sybil Dosty injured her knee earlier this fall and was forced to miss all of ASU's preseason practices. She averaged only 12 minutes in the first four games as she was slowly worked into the rotation. During the Pac-10 season Dosty was third on the team in scoring (8.8 ppg) and first in rebounding (6.8 rpg). She was named Pac-10 Player of the Week after averaging 17.0 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 57.9 in ASU's come-from-behind victories over UCLA (Dec. 28) and USC (Dec. 30). Dosty (38 blocks this season) needs seven more blocks to pass Kym Hampton (1982-83 season) for third place on ASU's all-time list for most blocks in a season.
Junior guard Kate Engelbrecht suffered a hand injury during the first preseason practice and was forced to miss the rest of ASU's preseason workouts and its first two games. She scored a season-high eight points in ASU's win over Fresno State on Dec. 17 and had a career-best seven rebounds in ASU's win over Washington State on Jan. 26. She has connected on 53 percent of her shots (10-19) during a recent seven-game stretch.
Senior guard Reagan Pariseau missed ASU's games against Auburn (Dec. 2) and UC Davis (Dec. 9) after injuring her ankle early in ASU's win over Gonzaga on Nov. 30. She returned to action on Dec. 13 at Texas Tech and made an immediate impact, scoring nine points on 4-4 shooting. Although she was healthy for ASU's contest vs. Texas (Dec. 20), Pariseau would only play 22 minutes and was limited for much of that time after absorbing a blow to the head early in the game. Then, midway through the second half, Jill Noe, who came into the Texas game averaging 14 points in her previous five games, was forced to leave the game because of an ankle injury.