WHAT: No. 19/24 Sun Devil Women’s Basketball (14-2, 3-1 Pac-12) vs. No. 15/15 California (12-3, 4-0 Pac-12)
WHEN: Friday at 11 a.m. MT
WHERE: Wells Fargo Arena, Tempe, Ariz.
The No. 19 Arizona State women’s basketball team begins a difficult four-game stretch this week in which it will face three Top 25 teams in an 11-day span. ASU’s first assignment comes on Friday when it hosts No. 15 and 2013 NCAA Final Four participant Cal at Wells Fargo Arena.
Friday’s contest will have a special 11 a.m. start time as part of `Sparky’s Kids to College Field Trip Day.’ Now in its eighth season, `Sparky’s Kids to College Field Trip Day,’ is an initiative designed to introduce fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders to a college campus.
In addition to Cal, included in the aforementioned stretch of games will be contests vs. No. 4 Stanford on Monday (5 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena) and at current No. 21 Colorado a week from Sunday (Jan. 26). The Sun Devils will also face another formidable opponent in the form of Utah (in Salt Lake City) next Friday in between the Stanford and Colorado games. ASU will have a similar stretch the middle of next month when it faces Stanford and Cal (both on the road) and Colorado (at home) in succession.
ASU (14-2, 3-1) enters Friday’s game vs. Cal in sole possession of fifth place in the league standings. The Sun Devils are one-half game behind fourth-place USC (11-6, 4-1) and one game behind Stanford (15-1, 4-0), Cal (12-3, 4-0) and Washington State (10-6, 4-0 Pac-12), who are the lone remaining unbeaten teams in conference play.
No. 15 California comes to Tempe toting a five-game winning streak. Like the Sun Devils, the Bears have been just as resilient in close games as they are 4-1 in such contests with two of those wins coming in the last two weeks – 101-98 OT win vs. Oregon two weeks ago and a 57-55 win at Colorado last week.
The Sun Devils came into Pac-12 play with a 10-game winning streak, which came to an end on Jan. 3 at Washington State (85-78). Two days later the Sun Devils were able to gain a split on their first Pac-12 road trip after defeating Washington 78-60.
The storyline of ASU’s success this season has been teamwork. Nine Sun Devils have scored in double figures this season; six have led or tied for the team lead in scoring; four have led or tied for the team lead in rebounds; and five have led or tied for the team lead in assists.
A live video stream of Friday morning’s game vs. Cal can be seen live by going to http://pac-12.com/videos/arizona-state-university.
NOTES FROM LAST GAME
• The Sun Devils made it eight wins in eight home games following their 59-57 come-from-behind win over UCLA last Sunday.
• ASU, which is now 6-0 this season in games decided by less than five points or in overtime, was balanced offensively, with eight players scoring points. Adrianne Thomas and Joy Burke paced the team with 11 points each. Sophie Brunner just missed her fourth double-double of the season, scoring nine points and grabbing a career-high 13 rebounds. Deja Mann and Promise Amukamara added nine and eight points respectively.
• UCLA shot 20 percent from 3-point range, the eighth time this season that a team has shot 25 percent or lower beyond the arc against ASU.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• ASU was one of three schools – current No. 4 Stanford and current No. 21 Colorado – to start Pac-12 play with only one loss. Stanford remains the lone one-loss team in the league after the Sun Devils and Buffaloes lost their Pac-12 openers on Jan. 3. For ASU, it was the sixth time since the 1986-87 (first season of Pac-10/12 play) that it entered conference play with only one loss.
• 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’s earlier 10-game winning streak tied the second-longest run in program history. It was also the 20th time since 2001 that ASU had a winning streak of five or more games. The string of 10 straight wins 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 has scored 80 or more points eight times this season and has shot 50 percent or higher seven times.
• ASU is shooting 45 percent (21-47) from 3-point range in its last two games. Deja Mann (7-14) has made 50 percent of her attempts (7-14) during that span.
• After averaging 20.9 turnovers in its first nine contests, the Sun Devils are averaging 16.9 in their last seven games. They have had 16 or fewer turnovers four times during that span.
• As of Jan. 15, ASU is ranked among the top third in the Pac-12 in scoring margin (2nd, +12.0), FG pct. (2nd, 45.2), 3-point FG pct. (2nd, 38.6), rebounding defense (2nd, 34.2 rpg), scoring offense (3rd, 77.4 ppg), steals (3rd, 9.1 spg), offensive rebounds (3rd, 14.6 rpg), FT pct. (4th/69.7), 3-point FG pct. defense (3rd, 27.5) and assists (15.8 apg).
• ASU has won the battle of the boards in all but three games this season – at San Diego (Nov. 13), vs. Miami (Dec. 21) and vs. UCLA (Jan. 12).
• Eight of ASU’s wins this season have come when they were either trailing (Texas Tech, North Carolina, Long Beach State, Syracuse, UCLA) or ahead by only one point (Arkansas State, Miami, USC) at some point in the last five minutes of regulation. The Sun Devils are 6-0 in games decided by five points or less or overtime.
• Freshman Kelsey Moos is averaging 11.4 points and 6.4 rebounds while shooting 63 percent (30-48) in ASU’s last 7 games. She has connected on 81 percent of her free throws (17-21) during that stretch.
• ASU’s bench is outscoring the opposition’s bench by an average of 17.5 points per game (32.7-15.2).
• Included in freshman Sophie Brunner’s last 11 games are three double-doubles, six double-digit scoring efforts and seven games with seven or more rebounds, including a career-best 13 rebounds in ASU’s win over UCLA on Sunday.
• Over ASU’s last 5 games, senior Joy Burke leads the team in FG pct. (68.6), is tied for the team lead in scoring (10.8 ppg) and is 2nd in rebounding (6.2 rpg).
• Sophomore Elisha Davis has had four or more assists 7x in ASU’s last 13 games, including a career-high seven assists in win at Washington (Jan. 5). She has 16 assists and only four turnovers in ASU’s last three games. She has also had a season-high five rebounds 4x in ASU’s last seven games.
• As of Jan. 15, ASU has four players among the top 10 in the Pac-12 in FG percentage – Brunner (3rd - 57.8), Burke (4th - 56.4), Moos (5th - 55.3) and junior Promise Amukamara (9th - 49.5).
• Brunner (51), Burke (44) and Moos (38) have combined for 133 of ASU’s 233 offensive boards.
• Nine different Sun Devils have scored in double figures this season – Mann (10x), Burke (8x), Moos (8x), Brunner (7x), Thomas (7x), Hempen (6x), Amukamara (5x), Davis (3x) and RS-sophomore Eliza Normen (1x).
SERIES NOTES VS. CAL (CAL LEADS 32-30)
Cal took the lead in the all-time series following its 67-62 win in Tempe in 2012. The Bears also came out on top in the most recent meeting, a 66-53 win in Berkeley last season.
Cal won the first meeting of 2010-11 (67-55) in Berkeley before the Sun Devils evened the regular season series with a 45-44 win. Deja Mann’s 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Sun Devils the win. The two teams met again in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Pac-10 Tournament where Cal defeated ASU 48-43. It was the fourth time in five seasons that the two teams met the Pac-10 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 third or higher in the Pac-12 nine 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.
SOPHIE BRUNNER NAMED PAC-12 FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
Sophie Brunner was named the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Freshman of the Week earlier this month after helping lead the Sun Devils to three wins at the Cancun Challenge.
Brunner averaged 9.0 points and 6.3 rebounds while connecting on 82 percent of her shots in helping the Sun Devils win their games vs. Illinois (Nov. 28), (then) No. 11 North Carolina (Nov. 29) and Arkansas State (Nov. 30).
Brunner, who had been slowed by an ankle injury she sustained in ASU’s win at Texas Tech on Nov. 17, came up especially big in ASU’s wins over North Carolina and Arkansas State.
Against North Carolina, Brunner recorded the first double-double of her career (10 points, 10 rebounds) as she scored all 10 of her points and had seven of her 10 rebounds in the second half and overtime of ASU’s upset of the Tar Heels.
One day after ASU upset UNC, Brunner played a big role helping the Sun Devils defeat Arkansas State as she scored 11 of her career-high 13 points in the second half. Brunner scored seven points and had four of ASU’s five rebounds (including three offensive) in the final five minutes to help the Sun Devils edge the Red Wolves, 69-66.
Brunner averaged 11.5 points and 9.0 rebounds while connecting on 78 percent of her shots (7-9) and 75 percent of her free throws (9-12) in the final two games of the tournament vs. UNC and Arkansas State.
SUN DEVIL WOMEN’S BASKETBALL HONORS NO. 21 JERSEY OF HALL OF FAMER RYNELDI BECENTI
On Dec. 21, 2013, Ryneldi Becenti, a member of the Arizona State University Sports Hall of Fame who twice earned honorable mention All-America notice as a member of the Sun Devil women’s basketball team, became the first Sun Devil women’s basketball player to have her jersey hung from the rafters of Wells Fargo Arena..
“As we started to evaluate the stars of our distinguished past, it quickly became apparent that no player was more celebrated or had more of an impact – both in her community and within our own Sun Devil community – than Ryneldi Becenti,” said Charli Turner Thorne. “While already in our Hall of Fame for her achievements as a student-athlete, we felt a program-specific tribute like this was fitting for a special individual whose influence went beyond the basketball court. The incredible work ethic and desire that led her to our program galvanized the Native American community. Her outstanding contributions as a Sun Devil enhanced her legendary status and remain an inspiration for many.”
Becenti was a two-time honorable mention All-America honoree while also becoming one of only three Sun Devils (at the time) to earn All-Pac-10 first-team honors twice in a career. By the conclusion of her two-year Sun Devil career, Becenti would accumulate 396 career assists, which at the time represented the second-highest career total in program history. Her career average of 7.1 assists per game remains a Pac-12 record to this day, while her 17-assist outing vs. Marquette in 1992 still sits atop the team’s list for most assists in a single game. With 15 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in a Jan. 25, 1992, game against Oregon State, Becenti became the first player in school history to record a triple-double and was the lone player in the NCAA – men or women – to record the feat that season.
In 1996, she became the first woman inducted into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame adding to her list of enshrinements, which includes the Scottsdale Community College Hall of Fame, Arizona State University Hall of Fame and the Arizona High School Sports Hall of Fame.
A native of Fort Defiance, Ariz., Becenti earned high school All-America honors playing for Window Rock High School. Her stellar play continued at Scottsdale Community College where she earned junior college All-American recognition.
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 (316), 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.
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 166-77 (.683). Included in those wins are eight of Turner Thorne’s 11 NCAA Tournament victories.