Feb. 17, 2012
The Arizona State women's basketball team plays its final home game of the 2011-12 season on Saturday (2 p.m. MT) when it hosts Washington State at Wells Fargo Arena. Saturday's game will be the final at home for Sun Devil seniors Kali Bennett, Kimberly Brandon, Alex Earl, Olivia Major and Haley Parsons, who will be honored in a ceremony following the game.
Following its 47-41 win over Washington on Thursday, the Sun Devils (17-8, 8-6 Pac-12) enter Saturday's game tied for third place with Oregon State (17-8, 8-6) in the Pac-12 standings. Both teams are a half game ahead of USC (13-11, 7-6) and UCLA (12-12, 7-6), who play each other on Sunday.
ASU went 9-2 in non-conference play and won its first Pac-12 contest (defeated Arizona 60-45 on Dec. 31) before losing three straight games vs. USC, vs. UCLA and at Oregon State to fall into a tie for ninth place in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils then rebounded with five straight wins, including wins on the road at Oregon, at Washington and at Washington State, to climb all the way back into a tie for second place. Consecutive home losses to No. 4 Stanford and Cal and a loss on the road to Utah sent ASU back into a tie for fifth place before it bounced back with wins at Colorado (Feb. 11) and vs. Washington (Feb. 13).
Major had a career-high 14 points and Bennett broke the single-game school record for blocks with nine in ASU's win over Washington on Thursday. Bennett's nine rejections were part of a school record 16 blocks for ASU, the second time this season the Sun Devils have broken the record (previous record was 12 vs. Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 6).
Saturday's game is a rematch of ASU's 63-46 win at Washington State on Jan. 26. In that game the Sun Devils used a 22-5 run in the second half to turn a slight 29-26 lead into a commanding 51-31 advantage with 8:44 left in the game. Bennett (eight points, 4-4 FGs) and Brandon (eight points, 3-4 FGs) combined to score 16 points in the second half while Fulcher (seven points) and Promise Amukamara (seven points) came off the bench to combine for 14 points in the second half.
Washington State (10-16, 4-10 Pac-12) has gone 1-5 since it last played ASU with the five losses (two of the losses coming by five points) coming in succession following a 78-68 home win over Arizona on Jan. 28. Senior guard Jazmine Perkins leads the Cougars in scoring (9.1 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg) and is second on the team in assists (2.4 apg).
The Sun Devils will be on the road for their final three regular season games as they travel to Los Angeles next week to take on UCLA (Thursday at 7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT) and USC (Saturday at 2 p.m. PT/3 p.m. MT). Then the following week (Sat., Mar 3 at 2 p.m. MT) they will travel to Tucson to take on Arizona in round two of the State Farm Territorial Cup Series.
Saturday's game vs. Washington State can be heard live on The Fan AM 1060. Coverage will begin at 1:30 p.m. Veteran broadcaster and the state of Arizona's 2010 Broadcaster of the Year Jeff Munn is in his eighth season as the voice of ASU women's basketball. He will be joined by former Sun Devil head coach Maura McHugh.
Fox Sports Arizona will also be carrying a live webcast of Saturday's game at www.foxsportsarizona.com.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
ASU holds a 37-14 advantage in the all-time series with Washington State and has won 26 of the last 29 meetings with the Cougars. Washington State's only wins in the last 29 meetings were a 75-72 victory in Pullman on February 28, 2004, a 66-62 win on Feb. 26, 2010 in Tempe and most recently a 70-65 win last season in Tempe. The Sun Devils won last season's rematch 55-47 in Pullman as Kimberly Brandon scored a career-best 21 points in the win. In 2008, ASU set the record for the fewest points ever allowed in a Pac-10 game with a 59-30 win over the Cougars.
As of Feb. 16, ASU is ranked No.5 in the nation in blocked shots per game (6.2), No. 7 in FG pct. defense (.340) and No. 12 in scoring defense (52.2 ppg). The Sun Devils lead the Pac-12 in all the aforementioned categories and are second in the conference in steals (10.5 spg) and turnover margin (+1.8) and are third in 3-point FG pct. defense (.283).
ASU is shooting 76.7 percent (102-133) from the line in its last 10 games, which is more than 10 percent higher than its percentage for the season (66.4).
Nine of senior F/C Kali Bennett's 11 double-figure scoring efforts in 2011-12 have come in ASU's last 12 games
Bennett, who in ASU's win against Washington (Feb. 16) set the single-game school record for most blocks (9), also owns the school's single-season record for blocked shots with 72 - old record was 55 by Kym Hampton set in 1980-81 season.
Currently with 155 blocks this season, ASU has already broken the school's single-season record for blocked shots (134) set by the 2008-09 squad. In ASU's win over Washington (Feb. 16), the Sun Devils also broke the single-game school record for blocks (16) for the second time this season. On Dec. 6, ASU had 12 blocks against Cal State Fullerton to break the previous record of 11.
Senior G Olivia Major is shooting 55 percent from the floor (11-20) in ASU's last five games. Major had career highs in points (14) and 3-pointers (4) in Thursday's win over Washington.
Senior G Alex Earl is shooting 50 percent from the floor (17-34), including 46 percent (11-24) from 3-point range in ASU's last 7 games. Earl established a new career high in scoring (14 points) in ASU's win over Colorado last Saturday.
Junior G Deja Mann has scored in double figures 5 times in ASU's last 8 games and is shooting 43 percent from 3-point range (6-14) during that stretch. Mann scored seven of her 12 points in the final 4:30 of ASU's 57-53 win at Washington (Jan. 28). She led ASU with 11 points in its loss to No. 4 Stanford (Feb. 2) and added 11 more against Cal (Feb. 4). She paced ASU with 12 points in the Sun Devils' 50-46 loss at Utah on Feb. 4.
Freshman G Promise Amukamara, whose brother, Prince, is a member of the Super Bowl XLVI champion New York Giants, is shooting 52 percent (28-54 FGs) in ASU's last 18 games and has scored a career-best 12 points twice in that stretch. Nearly half (22 of 46) of Amukamara's rebounds this season have come on the offensive end.
Over the last four games Amukamara has led the Sun Devils in free throws attempted (16) and made (13).
The Sun Devils have allowed 20 or fewer points in a half 10 times this season. The nine points scored by Colorado (Jan. 19) were the fewest ever scored by the Buffaloes in a half and tied the second-fewest number of points ever allowed by ASU in a half.
Seven of ASU's opponents have shot below 30 percent this season while only three opponents (DePaul, California and UCLA) have shot higher than 40 percent.
ASU has held 13 of its 25 opponents to 50 or fewer points. Since 2005-06, ASU is 57-2 when it has held the opposition to 50 or fewer points.
The Sun Devils have given up 60 or more points only five times this season (DePaul - 73, USC - 60, UCLA - 64, Stanford - 62, California - 67).
ASU's bench has outscored (22.2 ppg) the opposition's bench (13.0 ppg) in all but three games this season (vs. UTEP - Dec. 28, at Oregon - Jan. 14 and vs. Washington - Feb. 16).