ASU women's basketball faces USC in Pac-10 Tournament Quarterfinal
The No. 16 Arizona State women’s basketball team begins play in the 2009 Pac-10 Tournament on Friday (11 a.m. PT) when it takes on USC at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. Winners of 15 their last 16 games ASU will be entering this the tournament as the No. 3 seed after compiling a 15-2 record during the conference regular season.
The Sun Devils (23-7/15-3 Pac-10) are coming off a split in last week’s trip to the Bay Area, in which they defeated previously ninth-ranked California 63-41 before falling to second-ranked Stanford 77-68. Dymond Simon (15) and Danielle Orsillo (13) combined for 28 points in ASU’s win over California. The Sun Devils’ defense clamped down, allowing the Golden Bears to score only 41 points, which matched their lowest offensive output of the year.
ASU had its school record 15-game winning streak come to an end at Stanford on Saturday. The Sun Devils were dealt a tremendous blow when Simon went out midway through the first half with what was eventually diagnosed as a season ending injury. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, the Sun Devils managed to stay within striking distance of the Cardinal for most of the contest and nearly cut the deficit to five when Orsillo’s 3-pointer rimmed out with 49 seconds left. Briann January led ASU with 19 points while Orsillo had 12 and Sybil Dosty added 10.
Despite their 15-14 record (9-9 Pac-10), the Trojans have been one of the most dangerous teams in the Pac-10 all season. Four of their losses in Pac-10 play have been by three points or less, including a pair of two-point setbacks to California, which spent much of the season in the nation’s top 10. USC’s explosiveness was on display in its most recent outing, a 94-64 win at Oregon. The 94 points represented USC’s second-highest point total of the season while the 30-point margin of victory was its biggest of the year. The Trojans shot a season-best 57 percent for the game.
ASU’s game vs. USC can be be heard live on KAZG 1440 AM. Coverage will begin at 10:30 a.m. Veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his fifth year as the voice of ASU women’s basketball. Live video will also be streamed. For more information go to www.Pac-10.org.
While USC has won 47 of the 63 all-time meetings, the Sun Devils have recently had the upper hand in the series, having won eight of the last nine meetings. Last month the Sun Devils won their seventh in a row over USC with an 72-69 win in Los Angeles Dymond Simon scored 15 points and Briann January, Kayli Murphy and Danielle Orsillo added 10 each while Becca Tobin tied her career high with 13 rebounds. The Sun Devils were able to overcome 22 turnovers by shooting 46 percent for the game while allowing USC to make only 33 percent of its field goals. In the first meeting on January 17 in Tempe, Simon scored a season-best 22 points while Orsillo scored 15 of her season-high 19 points in the second half. ASU would lead by as many as 18 points in the second half to break open what was a five-point game at the half (32-27 ASU). Last season the Sun Devils defeated USC 66-63 in Tempe and 65-57 in Los Angeles. Lauren Lacey (17 points, eight rebounds) and Sybil Dosty (14 points six rebounds) combined for 31 points and 14 boards in the first win win. In the second meeting ASU used a 25-7 run in the second half to turn a four-point deficit into a 14-point advantage on their way to the eight-point win. Lacey led the Sun Devils 14 points while Jill Noe had 11 points, all of which came in the second half.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• The Sun Devils will be the No. 3 seed in this year’s Pac-10 Tournament. They have been seeded third on three other occasions -- 2002 (tourney champions), 2005 (tourney finalist) and 2008 (tournament semifinals). The No. 3 seed has played in the final game four times, and has won the tournament two times (ASU in 2002 and UCLA in 2006).
• ASU will be seeking its second Pac-10 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 final in three of the seven Pac-10 Tournaments, most recently in 2007 when they lost to Stanford, 62-55.
• The Sun Devils concluded the regular season tied with California for second place in the Pac-10. After winning a school record 15 consecutive games, ASU had a chance to claim a share of the Pac-10 title, however lost at second-ranked Stanford (77-68) on Saturday.
• The Sun Devils are unbeaten (5-0) in USC’s Galen Center, site of the 2009 Pac-10 Tournament. The Sun Devils defeated USC there 68-57 in 2007, 65-57 last season and 72-69 last month. In March 2007 ASU also defeated UC Riverside and Louisville in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
• Currently 23-7, the Sun Devils have now won 20 or more games seven times in the last nine seasons, including the last five in a row. ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne joins former Washington head coach Chris Gobrecht and current Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer as the only other coaches in Pac-10 history (since the 1986-87 season) to have led their respective schools to five (or more) consecutive 20-win seasons.
• With its final Pac-10 record of 15-3 ASU has now won 82 percent (59-13) of its Pac-10 contests since the 2005-06 season. ASU’s 15 Pac-10 wins this season represent the second-highest total in school history. Two years ago the Sun Devils went a program best 16-2 during the conference season.
• The Sun Devils will commence play in the Pac-10 Tournament without junior guard and leading scorer Dymond Simon, who suffered a season ending injury in ASU’s regular season finale at Stanford (Mar. 7).
• In the most recent NCAA statistics (Mar. 8), ASU was third in the nation in three-point FG percentage (.403), fifth in assists per game (17.0), 11th in field goal percentage (.455), 13th in scoring margin (+14.9), 21st in scoring defense (54.9 ppg) and 19th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.00). The Sun Devils concluded the regular season leading the Pac-10 in three-point FG percentage and turnover margin (+4.3) and second in scoring margin, field goal percentage, scoring defense, assists per game, blocked shots per game (4.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio.
• In its win over No. 9 Cal on March 5 the Sun Devils held the Golden Bears to 41 points, which tied Cal’s lowest point total of the season. California became the sixth Pac-10 team to score its fewest points of the season against the Sun Devils.
• In their win over Oregon State on Feb. 7, the Sun Devils broke the school single-season record for most blocks (102). ASU currently has 123 rejections on the season. Sybil Dosty (40) and Becca Tobin (32) have combined for 72 of those blocks.
• In their win vs. Washington on Feb. 26, the Sun Devils broke the school single-season record for most 3-point field goals (135). ASU has now made 156 3-pointers this season.
• With five assists against California on Jan. 4, senior guard Briann January became ASU’s all-time assists leader. She currently has 511 assists in her career. With 258 career steals January is currently second on ASU’s all-time list. Entering this week’s Pac-10 Tournament, January is second in the nation in 3-point FG percentage (.469) and 12th in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.09). She leads the Pac-10 in assists per game (4.7), 3-point FG percentage (.469) and assist to turnover ratio, is second in steals per game (2.3), fourth in free throw percent (.840) and 3-point FGs per game (2.0) and 14th in scoring (12.1 ppg).
• Currently with 60 3-point field goals, January needs one more triple to break ASU’s single-season record of 60 set by Amanda Levens in 2000-01.
• ASU’s leading rebounder last season, senior Sybil Dosty has continued to lead the Sun Devils in boards this season and is currently sixth in the Pac-10, averaging 7.0 rebounds per game. Currently third on ASU’s all-time list with 80 career blocks, Dosty needs 20 blocks to pass Fran Ciak (1987-90) for second place on the list.
RESERVATIONS FOR THREE
Coming into the 2008-09 season, ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said she expected the Sun Devils to have an improved perimeter game from last season when they shot slightly more than 33 percent from beyond the arc. “We were an ok perimeter shooting team last year; but not great,” Turner Thorne said before the season. “I think this might be one of the best perimeter shooting teams we have had in my tenure at ASU.” Thus far it would appear the Sun Devils have proven Turner Thorne right as they are currently first in the Pac-10 and No. 3 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (.403). Currently with 156 3-point FGs this season the Sun Devils have already broken the previous school record of 135 triples set by the 2004-05 team. Leading the way are guards Briann January (60), Dymond Simon (37) and Danielle Orsillo (28), who have combined for 125 of ASU’s 149 triples. Earlier this season the Sun Devils hit a school record 14 3-pointers in a 73-59 win at UC Davis. Leading the way was January, who tied the school record with seven makes from downtown.
YOU CAN’T SPELL DEVILS WITHOUT ‘D’
If there is one thing ASU head coach Charli Turner Throrne’s teams have become known for over the years it is defense. The Sun Devils offered another reminder of their excellence in defending on Dec. 6 when they defeated UC Irvine 75-23 to set the single-game Pac-10 record for the fewest points ever allowed by a Pac-10 team. It’s the second time in as many seasons that the Sun Devils have set a conference record for fewest points in a game. Last season the Sun Devils set the standard for the fewest points allowed in a Pac-10 game in their 59-30 win over Washington State. Since the 2005-06 season the Sun Devils have held the opposition to 50 or fewer points 27 times. This season the Sun Devils have accounted for several single-game defensive superlatives in the Pac-10, including fewest points (23), lowest field goal percentage (.209), fewest field goals (9 - tied with Oregon State), fewest field goal attempts (38), fewest three-point field goals made (0 - twice) and attempted (2 - twice), most blocks (10 - tied with Arizona) and fewest rebounds (19 - twice - tied with Oregon State). In addition, the Sun Devils have held the opposition to 20 or fewer points in a half 14 times this season, including their win over Washington (Feb. 26) in which the Sun Devils held the Huskies to eight points in the first half, setting the school record for the fewest points ever allowed in a half. Also, six of ASU’s nine Pac-10 opponent have either scored their fewest points of the season against ASU or tied for their lowest points total of the season: Arizona (38), California (41), Oregon State (36), UCLA (44), Washington (32) and Washington State (35).
IT’S BETTER TO GIVE THAN RECEIVE
Finishing 12th in the country in any statistical category would usually be considered great by most standards. That is unless of course a team is used to higher standards. After finishing among the nation’s top 5 in assists in 2005-06 and 2006-07, the Sun Devils slipped to 12th last season. Through 30 games it would appear that the Sun Devils have returned to the nation’s elite in the category. Currently ASU is fifth in the country averaging 17.0 assists per game. The Sun Devils have dished out 20 or more assists seven times this season, including a season-best 30 assists vs. Northern Arizona (Dec. 7), the second-highest single-game total in the Pac-10 this season.
SUN DEVILS SIGN THREE
Two local standouts who have achieved exceptional success and a top-notch guard from California highlighted the 2008 women’s basketball signing class for Arizona State announced by Sun Devil head coach Charli Turner Thorne in November. Joy Burke, Deja Mann and Markisha Patterson all signed letters of intent to study and play basketball at ASU.
A 6-foot-5 post player, Burke was named to The Arizona Republic’s All-Arizona team in 2008 in addition to earning second-team All-Tribune honors from the East Valley Tribune following a season in which she led Tempe Marcos de Niza to the state quarterfinals. During her decorated junior season, Burke averaged 19.8 points, 14.5 rebounds and 5.5 blocks per game.
A 5-foot-8 combo guard, Mann will be joining the Sun Devils from Merced High School in Merced, Calif. Mann, who was sidelined because of injury her junior season, had an outstanding sophomore campaign in which she averaged nearly 16 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists per game on her way to being named the Central California Conference MVP. Mann, who averaged 14.1 points per game as a freshman, also starred on the Modesto Magic club team this past summer. An outstanding shooter, Mann ranked No. 25 on hoopgurlz.com’s best “Gunners” of the summer.
A 5-foot-8 guard, Patterson will be coming to ASU from Central Arizona College where last season she helped lead her team to a runner-up finish at the National Junior College Athletic Association championships. Known as a defensive specialist at Central Arizona, Patterson is very familiar with what it takes to win championships. In 2007, she helped lead Tolleson High School to the Class 5A Division II state title after she scored 19 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in the championship game.
JANUARY CONTINUES TO DISTINGUISH HERSELF AS ONE OF THE BEST IN THE COUNTRY
Undoubtedly one of the integral components of ASU’s success in recent years has been the play of senior Briann January. Since she arrived in Tempe in 2005, the 5-8 guard from Spokane, Wash., has proven time and again to be one of the most explosive players in the nation on both ends of the floor. Last season January was named the first ever Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in addition to earning Second-Team All-Pac-10 honors for a campaign in which she finished first in the Pac-10 in steals (2.18 spg) and free throw percentage (.864), third in assists (4.39 apg), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio and 15th in scoring. Earlier this season January was recognized for her outstanding play in being one of six women’s college basketball players around the country to share (along with All-America candidate sophomore James Harden from the Arizona State men’s basketball team) a regional cover on Sports Illustrated’s College Basketball Preview. Thus far in 2008-09 January has experienced anything but an SI jinx as she concluded the regular season leading the Pac-10 in assists per game (4.7), 3-point FG percentage (.469) and assist to turnover ratio, second in steals per game (2.3) and fourth in free throw percent (.840) and 3-point FGs per game (2.0). Already ASU’s all-time leader in career assists (511), January is steadily making her way up the list of ASU’s all-time leaders in steals, free throws and points. Currently she is second in steals (258, needs 33 steals to catch all-time leader Cassandra Lander), third in free throws (384, needs four to pass Kym Hampton for second place) and seventh in scoring. Currently with 60 3-point field goals, January needs one more triple to break ASU’s single-season record of 60 set by Amanda Levens in 2000-01. Earlier this week January was named the Pac-10’s Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season and was named first-team All-Pac-10.
SIMON TO MISS REMAINDER OF THE SEASON
In addition to losing their first game in more than two months against Stanford on March 7, the Sun Devils had to deal with an even tougher loss as junior guard Dymond Simon left the game in the first half with what was eventually diagnosed as a season ending knee injury. For Simon, who was named second-team All-Pac-10 earlier this week, it’s the second time in three years that she has had to deal with a season ending knee injury. In 2006-07, Simon quickly made a name for herself as one of the top freshman in the Pac-10 before a knee injury ended her season midway through the conference season. In 2007-08 Simon played in 30 games, as she tirelessly worked to regain her high level of play while at the same time still enduring effects from the injury. By the time last March rolled around Simon was once again at the top of her game, earning All-Pac-10 Tournament recognition after averaging 14.5 points and 3.5 assists in ASU’s two tournament games, including a season-best 22 points in the semifinals against Cal. Fast forward to this season and Simon helped to give the Sun Devils one of the top backcourts in the country. She scored in double figures 24 times in 29 games this season, including a season-best 22 points vs. USC (Jan. 17). On Feb. 2 Simon was named the Pac-10’s Player of the Week after averaging 15.5 points and 4.5 assists in wins at Washington State and at Washington. At the time of her injury she was first on the team in scoring (13.8 ppg), second to fellow guard Briann January in three-point FGs (37), assists (3.7 apg) and steals (1.3. spg). Her 88.2 free throw percentage set a new school single-season record.
THE CENTER OF ATTENTION
One of the central figures in the success of ASU’s interior game has been center Sybil Dosty. The senior from Tucson, Ariz., transferred to ASU in 2005 after spending her first two seasons at the University of Tennessee. In her first season as a Sun Devil in 2007-08 Dosty finished first on the team in both rebounding (6.4 rpg) and field goal percentage (.540) while at the same time accumulating the fourth-highest single-season block total (40) in school history. This season Dosty has continued to build on last year’s success as she currently leads the team in rebounding (7.0 rpg) and blocks (1.3 bpg) and field goal percent (.548) and is fourth in scoring (8.5 ppg). At her current rebounding pace Dosty would become only the third Sun Devil since 1996 to average more than seven rebounds per game. Currently third on ASU’s all-time list with 80 career blocks, Dosty needs 20 blocks to pass Fran Ciak (1987-90) for second place on the list. Dosty’s 40 blocks this season currently rank fourth in ASU’s single-season annals. She needs five blocks to move into third place. Earlier this week Dosty was named Pac-10 honorable mention and Pac-10 Defensive honorable mention.