WHAT: Pac-12 Tournament Quarterfinal – Sun Devil Women’s Basketball (22-8, 11-7 Pac-12) vs. USC or Arizona
WHEN: Friday at 2:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. MT
WHERE: KeyArena, Seattle, Wash.
TELEVISION: Pac-12 Networks
RADIO: NBC Sports Radio AM 1060 (coverage begins at 3 p.m. MT)
The Arizona State women’s basketball team opens postseason play this week when it travels to Seattle, Wash., for the annual Pac-12 Tournament.
As one of the conference’s top four finishers during regular season play the Sun Devils (22-8, 11-7 Pac-12 - fourth place) earned a first round bye. ASU will play its first game of the tournament on Friday at 2:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. MT when it will face either USC (No. 5 seed) or Arizona (No. 12 seed).
The Sun Devils will be seeking their second Pac-10/12 Tournament title. ASU won the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament in 2002, defeating Stanford in the championship game, 70-63. The Sun Devils have appeared in the tournament’s championship game on three occasions, most recently in 2007 when they lost to Stanford, 62-55.
This will be ASU’s second time playing as the No. 4 seed in the tournament. The only other time came two years ago when ASU made it to the semifinal round where it was defeated by Stanford, 52-43.
In addition to conference supremacy, at stake for the Sun Devils this week is improving their positioning for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
Picked to finish ninth (media) and 10th (coaches) in the Pac-12’s preseason polls, the Sun Devils surpassed the expectations of even the most optimistic of pundits as they won 11 of 12 non-conference games to start the season. Along the way the Sun Devils upset (then) No. 11 North Carolina and (then) No. 20 Syracuse. ASU would record its third Top 25 win in the first round of Pac-12 play when it defeated Cal, 68-59.
The Sun Devils would climb to as high as No. 11 in the AP poll before a stretch that had ASU playing five of its last seven conference games on the road took its toll on the team and saw it slide from the league’s runner-up position to fourth place.
The Sun Devils and Trojans met only once this season, a contest that took place the second week of conference play (Jan. 10). In that game, Deja Mann scored a season-high 21 points and Adrianne Thomas added 18 (including 14 in the second half and overtime) as ASU held off USC, 94-86, in overtime.
ASU split its two contests with Arizona this year. The Sun Devils overcame a slow start in the first half to defeat the Wildcats 60-36 in the first meeting (Feb. 4) in Tempe. In the second game, which took place five days later in Tucson (Feb. 9), ASU fell victim to the theory that suggests anything can and will happen in a rivalry game as the Wildcats upset ASU, 68-49.
Overall, the Sun Devils recorded at least one win against nine of the 11 conference foes they faced this season. The only Pac-12 teams ASU was not able overtake were Washington State, which defeated ASU 85-78 in the conference opener on Jan. 3 in Pullman and league champion Stanford, which posted wins over the Sun Devils in Tempe (80-56 on Jan. 20) and in the Bay Area (61-35 on Feb. 14).
Friday’s Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal can be seen live on Pac-12 Networks. Anne Marie Anderson (play by play) and Tammy Blackburn (analysis) will have the call with Jill Savage reporting from the sidelines.
The game can also be heard live on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060. Coverage will begin 3 p.m. MT. Veteran broadcaster and the state of Arizona’s 2010 Broadcaster of the Year Jeff Munn is in his 10th season as the voice of ASU women’s basketball.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• ASU was one of three schools – current No. 4 Stanford and Colorado – to start Pac-12 play with only one loss in non-conference play. For ASU, it was the sixth time since 1986-87 (first season of Pac-10/12 play) that it entered league play with only one loss.
• With their win over Arizona on Feb. 4, the Sun Devils have now won 20 or more games 10 times since the 2000-01 season. Only Stanford (13) has accomplished the feat more times in the Pac-10/12 during that span.
• The storyline of ASU’s success this season has been teamwork. Ten Sun Devils have scored in double figures; seven have led/tied for team lead in scoring; seven have led/tied for team lead in assists; and six have led/tied for team lead in rebounds.
• ASU has been ranked as high as No. 11 in the AP poll this season (Feb. 3).
• ASU’s non-conference schedule included a pair of wins over Top 25 teams. The Sun Devils defeated then-No. 11 North Carolina 94-81 in OT at the Cancun Challenge on Nov. 29. On Dec. 30, ASU came from behind to beat then-No. 20 Syracuse, 63-60, in Tempe. ASU’s only loss in non-conference play came on the road in the season’s second game to a San Diego squad, which had its best start in school history winning its first 15 games). The Sun Devils led by as many as 11 in the first half of their 85-78 loss at Washington State (Jan. 3). The difference in the game for ASU proved to be 15 missed free throws (28-43). ASU recorded its third win against a Top 25 opponent when it defeated then-No. 15 Cal 68-59 in Tempe on Jan. 17, ending the Bears’ Pac-12, regular-season winning streak at 19 games. The Sun Devils dropped their first contest to a ranked opponent when then-No. 4 Stanford came to Tempe and defeated ASU 80-56 on Jan. 20. Stanford would hand the Sun Devils another defeat, 61-35, on Feb. 14 in Palo Alto as would Cal in the rematch (74-63) on Feb. 16 in Berkeley.
• ASU is No. 25 in NCAA’s most recent RPI (Mar. 3). ASU is one of seven Pac-12 schools among the Top 75: Stanford (No. 2)/Cal (No. 21)/Oregon State (No. 34)/USC (51), Washington State (62) and Washington (73).
• ASU’s earlier 10-game winning streak tied the second-longest run in program history. The string was ASU’s longest since it won a school record 15 straight in 2009 (after losing first two Pac-10 games won next 15). ASU’s five-game winning streak in Jan. - Feb. represented the 21st time since 2001 that it has had a winning streak of five or more games.
• ASU has scored 80 or more points 10x this season, has shot 50 percent or higher 8x and has had 15 or more assists 16x, including a season-best 26 vs. Oregon (Feb. 2).
• ASU has held to opposition to 25 percent or less from 3-point range 11x this season. On Jan. 26, ASU did not allow a 3-pointer at Colorado, ending CU’s streak of making at least one triple in 285 straight games. On Feb. 14, ASU held Stanford without a 3-pointer, the first time the Cardinal did not connect from long range in more than a year.
• After averaging 20.9 turnovers in its first nine contests, ASU is averaging 15.0 in its last 21 games. ASU has had 16 or fewer turnovers 16x during that span, including a season low of seven vs. Oregon State (Jan. 31).
• Thirteen of ASU’s wins this season have come when they were either trailing or ahead by only one point or tied at some juncture in the last five minutes of regulation.
• The Sun Devils are 12-0 in games decided by five points or less AND/OR overtime.
• In the final minute of its Pac-12 wins that have been decided by four points or less (vs. UCLA, at Utah, at Colorado, vs. Oregon State, vs. Oregon, vs. Colorado), ASU has shot 57 percent from the floor and is +6 in turnover margin (1/7).
• ASU concluded the regular season ranked among the top third in the Pac-12 in rebounding defense (2nd/35.1 rpg), FG pct. (3rd, 41.8), offensive rebounds (3rd/14.5 rpg), steals (4th/8.4 spg) and turnover margin (4th/+1.5).
• ASU has won the battle of the boards in all but 11 games this season. They are 4-7 in those contests – at San Diego (Nov. 13 - L), vs. Miami (Dec. 21 - W), vs. UCLA (Jan. 12 - W), vs. Stanford (Jan. 20 - L), at Colorado (Jan. 26 - W) vs. Oregon St. (Jan. 31 - W), at Arizona (Feb. 9 - tied in rebounds - L), at Stanford (Feb. 14 - L), at Cal (Feb, 16 - L), at Oregon (Feb. 28 - tied in rebounds - L), at Oregon St. (Mar. 2 - L).
• ASU’s bench is outscoring the opposition’s bench by an average of 14.2 points per game (29.8-15.2). It has scored 40 or more points 5x, including a season-high of 53 vs. Oregon (Feb. 2).
• Freshmen Sophie Brunner (94) Kelsey Moos (70) and senior Joy Burke (69) have combined for 233 of ASU’s 434 offensive boards.
• Ten different Sun Devils have scored in double figures this season – Mann (19x), Hempen (14x), Brunner (11x), Burke (11x), Thomas (10x), Moos (10x), Amukamara (7x), Davis (4x), RS-sophomore Eliza Normen (1x) and freshman Quinn Dornstauder (1x).
FOUR SUN DEVILS EARN PAC-12 RECOGNITION
Four Arizona State University women’s basketball players were recognized by the Pac-12 on Tuesday as the conference announced its annual awards for the 2013-14 season as voted on by the league’s head coaches.
Recognized by the league were RS-senior guard Deja Mann (All-Pac-12), junior guard Promise Amukamara (Pac-12 All-Defense) and freshmen Sophie Brunner and Kelsey Moos (Pac-12 Freshman Honorable Mention).
All four players played a major role in helping the Sun Devils, who were picked to finish ninth and 10th, by the media and coaches, respectively, in the Pac-12’s preseason polls, conclude the regular season in fourth place in the league and earn up bye in this week’s Pac-12 Tournament.
The Sun Devil women’s basketball program has consistently been among the Pac-12/Pac-10’s best for the last several years both on the court and in the classroom...
• Since the 2000-01 season ASU is one of only two schools in the Pac-12 to have won both a regular season conference title and the conference tournament title.
• ASU has finished in the top third of the conference standings 10 times since 2001.
• Since 2005-06, ASU has led the Pac-12 in the number of conference first-team all-academic awards and the combined number of first- and second-team all-academic awards.
TURNER THORNE GUIDES SUN DEVIL WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TO ELITE STATUS
The all-time winningest coach in program history and No. 2 in the Pac-12 in career wins (324), Charli Turner Thorne has turned Sun Devil women’s basketball into one of the nation’s premiere programs since taking over in 1996-97. Included in ASU’s earlier run of 13 consecutive postseason appearances (2000-12) were a school record five-consecutive NCAA Tournament bids from 2005-09. During that time the Sun Devils qualified for the Elite Eight on a pair of occasions, making ASU one of only 15 programs in the country to have qualified for the Elite Eight at least two times between 2007-12.
This season Turner Thorne helped the Sun Devils post one of the best turnarounds in the country as they went from a 13-18 record and a ninth-place Pac-12 finish (5-13) last season to a 22-8 record and fourth-place Pac-12 finish (11-7). Included among ASU’s 22 wins this season are three over Top 25 teams.
On Jan. 25, 2013, Turner Thorne became the third Pac-12 coach to reach 300 victories following ASU’s 60-53 win over USC, a game in which ASU came back from 16 down in the second half.
A closer look at Turner Thorne’s path to 300 puts into perspective the incredible 180-degree turnaround Sun Devil women’s basketball has undergone since she came to ASU. To reach 150 wins it took Turner Thorne 272 games (150-122 - .551) as she rebuilt a program that had an aggregate record of 20-60 in the three years prior to her arrival and only two NCAA Tournament wins in its history. It would take her 215 games to get 150 more wins. Since picking up her 150th win at ASU, Turner Thorne is 174-83 (.677). Included in those wins are eight of Turner Thorne’s 11 NCAA Tournament victories.