March 9, 2012
The Arizona State women’s basketball team continues play at the Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament on Friday (noon PT/1 p.m. MT) when it takes on No. 2 and regular season conference champion Stanford in the tournament semifinals.
The Sun Devils (20-10, 10-8 Pac-12) advanced to the semifinals by defeating Arizona 68-53 in the tournament quarterfinals on Thursday.
Seniors Kimberly Brandon (15 points, six rebounds) and Kali Bennett (10 points, six rebounds, five assists and four blocks) combined for 25 points and 12 rebounds to pace the Sun Devils, who shot 46 percent while holding the Wildcats to 30 percent.
The duo of Brandon and Bennett helped the Sun Devils dominate inside where they had a 28-16 advantage in points in the paint. Also helping to contribute to that advantage were junior forward Janae Fulcher (eight points, eight rebounds) and freshman forward Jada Blackwell (eight points, six rebounds), who combined for 16 points and 14 rebounds.
The Sun Devils never trailed in the game as they shot 56 percent in the first half on their way to a 36-20 halftime lead. Bennett’s eight points and six rebounds led the Sun Devils, who used a 15-3 run to help break the game open.
Stanford (29-1, 18-0 Pac-12) advanced to the semifinals with a 76-57 win over Washington. The Cardinal has lost only two of 30 contests in the history of the Pac-10/Pac-12 Tournament, which dates back to 2002. One of those losses was to the Sun Devils, who defeated the Cardinal, 70-63, in the championship game of the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament in Eugene, Ore.
Friday’s game will be the second meeting between Stanford and ASU this season. Last month in Tempe, it was Stanford coming out on top 62-49. The Sun Devils led by as many as eight in the first half, were tied at the half (28-28) and, following a 6-0 run, found themselves once again tied at 40-40 with 12:15 left in the game. Stanford would seize control of the game at that point, however, as it went on a 14-0 run over the next 5:25 to take a commanding 54-40 lead. ASU would get no closer than 12 points the rest of the way. Deja Mann (11 points) and Micaela Pickens (10 points) led ASU offensively.
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. ASU then bounced back with three straight wins before road losses at UCLA and at USC. The Sun Devils then closed out the regular season with a win at Arizona and then opened the Pac-12 Tournament with a win over Arizona.
ON THE AIR
Friday’s game against Stanford can be seen live on Fox Sports Net. Jim Watson (play by play) and Mary Murphy (analyst) will call the game.
All of ASU’s Pac-12 Tournament contests can be heard live on KAZG 1440 AM. Pre-game coverage will begin 30 minutes prior to each game. 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.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• Currently 20-10, the Sun Devils have won 20 or more games seven times in the last eight years.
• ASU is the No. 4 seed in this year’s Pac-12 Tournament, the first time in the tourney’s history it has been in the No. 4 slot. The Sun Devils will be seeking their second Pac-10/12 Tournament title. The Sun Devils won the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament in 2002, defeating Stanford in the championship game, 70-63. They have appeared in the tournament’s championship game on three occasions, most recently in 2007 when they lost to Stanford, 62-55.
• ASU will be making its sixth appearance in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals. The Sun Devils are 3-2 in their previous five semifinal games, with their most recent appearance coming in 2008 when they lost to Cal, 65-61.
• Stanford holds a 52-11 advantage in the all-time series with Arizona State. The Cardinal has won the last 12 meetings. ASU’s last win in the series came when it defeated then-No. 11 Stanford 62-59 on Feb. 16, 2006 in Tempe. Between 2006-09, six of Stanford’s seven wins were by single-digit margins. Friday’s game will be the fourth time that ASU and Stanford have met in the conference tournament (Stanford leads 2-1) with all three of the prior meetings coming in the championship game.
• As of Mar. 5, ASU is No. 11 in the nation in blocked shots per game, No. 13 in FG pct. defense and No. 14 in scoring defense. ASU leads the Pac-12 in scoring defense (52.5 ppg), blocks (6.0 bpg) and steals (10.5 spg), is second in FG pct. defense (.341) and turnover margin (+2.0) and is third in assists (13.6 apg).
• Three Sun Devils were recognized by the Pac-12 on Tuesday as the conference announced its annual awards for the 2011-12 season as voted on by the league’s head coaches. Recognized by the league were Kali Bennett (Pac-12 All-Defensive Team, Pac-12 honorable mention), Kimberly Brandon (Pac-12 honorable mention, Pac-12 defensive honorable mention) and Deja Mann (Pac-12 honorable mention, Pac-12 defensive honorable mention).
• Ten of senior F/C Kali Bennett’s 12 double-figure scoring efforts in 2011-12 have come in ASU’s last 17 games. Bennett, who in ASU’s win over Washington (Feb. 16) set the single-game school record for blocks (9), also owns the school’s single-season record for blocks (86) - old record was 55 by Kym Hampton set in 1980-81.
• Currently with 179 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 (and tied the Pac-12 record) for blocks (16). The 16 blocks were the most ever in a Pac-12 game (two conference teams going head to head).
• Four of senior G Alex Earl’s five double-figure scoring games in 2011-12 have come in ASU’s last nine contests. Twice in that stretch Earl has scored a career-best 14 points -- at Colorado (Feb. 11) and at Arizona (Mar. 3). Earl has averaged 11.5 points and is 7-13 (.538) from 3-point range in ASU’s last two games.
• Redshirt junior F Janae Fulcher has led or tied for the team lead in scoring three times in ASU’s last seven games: 16 points at Colorado (Feb. 11), 11 points vs. Washington State (Feb. 18), 16 points at UCLA (Feb. 23). Fulcher is averaging 9.0 points in ASU’s last seven games (+2.8 points above her season average).
• Junior G Deja Mann has tallied double figures in scoring eight times this season, with six of those instances coming in ASU’s last 13 games. Mann scored a career-best 22 points (most by a Sun Devil this season) in ASU’s loss at USC (Feb. 25).
• The Sun Devils have allowed 20 or fewer points in a half 13 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.
• Nine 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 14 of its 30 opponents to 50 or fewer points. Since 2005-06, ASU is 58-2 when it has held the opposition to 50 or fewer points.
• The Sun Devils have given up 60 or more points only six times this season (USC - 60, Stanford – 62, Arizona -63, UCLA - 64, , California – 67, DePaul - 73, ).
• ASU’s bench has outscored the opposition’s bench in all but four games this season (vs. UTEP - Dec. 28, at Oregon - Jan. 14, vs. Washington - Feb. 16 and at USC - Feb. 25).