Women's hoops to face Texas A&M in Trenton semifinal
For the third time in five years the No. 19 Arizona State women's basketball team will compete for a chance to advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament when it faces No. 9 Texas A&M in the Trenton Regional semifinals on Sunday. Tip-off at Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, N.J., is scheduled for approximately 2:30 p.m ET.
Arizona State (25-8, 15-3 Pac-10) earned a spot in Sunday's game after a come-from-behind 63-58 win over Florida State on Monday. The Sun Devils came through with their most inspired performance of the season to overcome a nine-point deficit (40-31) in the game's final 10 minutes. Senior guard Kate Engelbrecht's 3-pointer ignited a 32-18 ASU scoring run over the last 9:27 of the game. The Sun Devils made 62.5 percent of their field goal attempts over the game's last 10 minutes, including 83 percent (5-6) of their 3-pointers.
Senior Sybil Dosty led ASU, narrowly missing her fifth double-double of the season, with 13 points and nine rebounds. Dosty was one of many Sun Devils, whose play shined bright under the seemingly bleak circumstances. Senior guard Briann January overcame foul trouble and a sprained ankle to score 11 points and hand out six assists. Engelbrecht came within one point of trying her career high with 12 points on 4-7 shooting, including 2-2 from beyond the arc. Providing the Sun Devils with a tremendous boost off the bench was junior Gabby Fage, whose back-to-back 3-pointers over a 31-second span cut Florida State's lead to a single point, 46-45, with 6:12 left in the game. Fage tied her career high with six points and set a new career high with six rebounds. And then there was junior guard Danielle Orsillo, who calmly drilled a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left to break a 54-54 tie and put the Sun Devils on top to stay. It was Orsillo's only make of the six shots she attempted in the second half, but it turned out to be one of the biggest triples of her career.
Texas A&M (27-7, 11-5 Big 12) had little trouble in its first two NCAA Tournament games at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind. The Aggies defeated 15th-seeded Evansville (80-45) and 10th-seeded Minnesota (73-42) by an average of 33 points. Senior guard and All-America candidate Danielle Gant averaged 20.5 points and was on target with 79 percent of her shots (19-24) in the two wins.
The ASU-Texas A&M winner will meet the winner of Sunday's first regional semifinal (noon ET/9 a.m. PT) between top-ranked (and top-seeded) Connecticut and 13th-ranked (and fourth-seeded) California on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET. The winner will advance to the 2009 NCAA Women's Final Four in St. Louis.
ASU's game vs. Texas A&M can be seen live on ESPN2. Pam Ward (play-by-play) and Debbie Antonelli (analysis) will call the game while Rebecca Lobo reports from the sidelines. The game can also be heard live on The Fan AM 1060 and on the sundevilsportsnetwork.com (subscription-based service). Coverage of the game will begin at 11 a.m. in the Valley. Veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his fifth year as the voice of ASU women's basketball.
ASU IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
• Arizona State is currently in the midst of its 10th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance and its seventh in the last nine seasons.
• ASU's overall record in the NCAA Tournament is 12-9, including a 10-6 record under head coach Charli Turner Thorne.
• This is the third time that ASU has been a No. 6 seed. The Sun Devils were the No. 6 seed in the Midwest Region in 1992 when they lost to host school DePaul in the first round, 67-65 and again last season in the Oklahoma City Regional. In 2008 they were sent to College Park, Md., for the first two rounds where they defeated 11th-seeded Temple 61-54 in the first round before falling to third-seeded Duke 67-59 in the second round.
• ASU's highest NCAA seed in school history is No. 3, which came in 2007 when it was placed in the Greensboro Regional.
• Prior to its Elite Eight berth in 2007, the furthest ASU had reached was the round of 16 (1982, 1983 and 2005). In both 1982 and `83, the fourth-seeded Sun Devils lost to the eventual national champion in the round of 16 (Louisiana Tech in 1982 and USC in 1983).
• As a No. 4 seed in 2006 ASU defeated Stephen F. Austin in the first round in Tucson (80-61) before falling to Utah in the second round (65-86).
• As the No. 5 seed in the Tempe Regional in 2005 the Sun Devils advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 22 years after upsetting fourth-seeded Notre Dame, 70-61. In that game the Sun Devils overcame a 13-point first half deficit. In the Sweet 16 against UNC, the Sun Devils led by as many as 10 points and were within two points, 62-60, with 9:29 remaining before the Tar Heels closed out the game with a 17-12 run.
• ASU's first NCAA appearance in the Turner Thorne era came in 2001. As the No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region, the Sun Devils fell to sixth-seeded LSU in the first round. Turner Thorne earned her first victory in the NCAA Tournament the following year after the ninth-seeded Sun Devils defeated eighth-seeded Wisconsin in the first round of the Midwest sub-regional, 73-70. ASU would fall to top-seeded Vanderbilt in the second round, 61-35.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• The active players on ASU's current roster have combined to play in 76 NCAA Tournament games.
• ASU is 1-1 in NCAA regional semifinal games under head coach Charli Turner Thorne. In 2005 Turner Thorne led ASU to its first Sweet 16 appearance in 22 years before falling to North Carolina 79-72 in Tempe. In 2007 Turner Thorne had the Sun Devils back in the regional semifinals, this time in Greensboro, N.C., where they defeated Bowling Green 67-49 to earn their first ever berth in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. The Sun Devils would fall short of their first ever Final Four, falling to Rutgers 64-45.
• This will be the fourth all-time meeting between ASU and Texas A&M. The Aggies have taken each of the prior three meetings, however this will be the first time the teams have met since 1994.
• ASU began the NCAA Tournament without junior guard, leading scorer and second-team All-Pac-10 performer Dymond Simon, who suffered a season ending injury in ASU's regular season finale at Stanford (Mar. 7).
• With five assists against California on Jan. 4, senior guard Briann January became ASU's all-time assists leader. She currently has 530 assists in her career. With 263 career steals January is currently second on ASU's all-time list. January concluded the regular season ranked second in the nation in 3-point FG percentage (.469) and 12th in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.09). She led the Pac-10 in assists per game (4.7), 3-point FG percentage (.469) and assist to turnover ratio, was 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). Earlier this month January was named first-team All-Pac-10 and the Pac-10's Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. She has averaged 13.3 points and 6.0 assists (24-7 assist-to-TO ratio) in ASU's last four games.
• ASU's leading rebounder last season, senior Sybil Dosty has continued to lead the Sun Devils in boards this season. The Tucson, Ariz., native concluded the regular season ranked sixth in the Pac-10 in rebounding (7.0 rpg). Currently third on ASU's all-time list with 86 career blocks, Dosty needs 14 blocks to pass Fran Ciak (1987-90) for second place on the list.
• Nine of junior guard Danielle Orsillo's 15 double-figure scoring games have come in ASU's last 13 contests.
• Junior F Kayli Murphy has hit 70 percent of her shots (21-30) in ASU's last five games.
NOTES FROM LAST WEEK'S FIRST AND SECOND ROUND GAMES
• With its 58-47 win over Georgia the Sun Devils are now 6-1 in NCAA first round games under Charli Turner Thorne.
• ASU's defensive performance against Georgia was so dominant that it held the Lady Bulldogs to their lowest point total in NCAA play and for the first time in 75 NCAA Tournament games the Georgia did not have a player score in double figures.
• Junior Kayli Murphy tied her career best in scoring (12 points) against Georgia. She also accounted for a season-high 11 rebounds giving her the first double-double of her career. Murphy made 9-of-10 shots last weekend.
• Briann January tied her season high with nine assists against Georgia, the fourth time this season she has accomplished the feat. January had a 3-1 assist-to turnover ratio (15-5) in last week's games.
• ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne earned her 250th win at ASU against Florida State.
• Senior center Sybil Dosty tied her career-high blocked shots mark with four against Florida State. She combined for six blocks in the two games.
• Junior guard Gabby Fage tied her career scoring mark (6) in the win over Florida State. During the FSU victory she also set a new career-high rebounding mark with six.
• The Sun Devils held Florida State to its lowest 3-point shooting percentage of the season (.214, 3-of-14).
• Post players Kayli Murphy (9-10), Sybil Dosty (7-12), Lauren Lacey (6-10) and Becca Tobin (5-10) combined to make (27-42) 64 percent of their shots last weekend. Murphy and Dosty averaged 8.0 rebounds each to lead ASU.
2008 NCAA Tournament RECAP - COLLEGE PARK, MD.
After an injury-plagued preseason combined with one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country led to a 6-5 start, the Sun Devils responded with a trio of five-game winning streaks over the next two months to secure their fourth consecutive 20-win season. As a result the Sun Devils were rewarded with their fourth straight NCAA Tournament berth, earning a No. 6 seed in the Oklahoma City Regional. For the first two rounds the Sun Devils were assigned to the College Park, Md. subregional. Their first tournament assignment came in the form of the Temple Owls. After playing Temple on even terms for the first 20 minutes (26-26), the Sun Devils opened the second half with a 13-0 run to take command of the game on their way to a 61-54 win. Lauren Lacey led ASU with 14 points while Jill Noe had 12 and Briann January had 10. In the second round game the Sun Devils met third-seeded Duke. An 18-5 Duke run in the second half put the Blue Devils up 47-34 with 11:19 remaining. No sooner was it that the Sun Devils countered with a 12-4 run of their own to close to 56-53 and eventually 59-57. However ASU could pull no closer as the Blue Devils advanced with a 67-59 win. Three Sun Devils scored in double figures led by January, who had 17 points. Lacey added 13 and Dymond Simon had 11.
DON'T I KNOW YOU?
Trenton, N.J., would probably be one of the last places anyone would expect to see a pair of Pac-10 teams going head to head in March. However the possibility exists the Garden State could host an all-Pac-10 regional final on Tuesday with Arizona State and California playing in games opposite each other in the regional semifinals. The Sun Devils and Golden Bears split their two contests this season with each squad winning on its opponent's home floor. The two teams engaged in a wild contest the first week of January in which California's Ashley Walker scored on a layup with 1.8 seconds left to give the Golden Bears a 54-53 win. Walker's basket came following a 3-pointer by Dymond Simon, which capped a 13-2 ASU run and gave ASU a one-point lead with 8.7 seconds left. In the rematch the Sun Devils put together one of their finest performances of the season in a convincing 63-41 win over then-No. 9 California. Simon scored a game-high 15 points and Danielle Orsiilo added 13 for ASU, which had a season-low seven turnovers. Defensively, the Sun Devils held the Golden Bears to season lows in points (41), field goals (14), field goal attempts (44) and assists (7).
The last time two Pac-10 teams went head-to-head with a Final Four berth at stake was in 1992 when Stanford defeated USC 82-62.
The Sun Devils split their only two meetings with Connecticut. In 2003 the Sun Devils were defeated 81-55 in Storrs, Conn., before returning the favor with a 61-50 victory the following year in Tempe.
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." The Sun Devils would prove Turner Thorne's prediction to be correct as they concluded the regular season first in the Pac-10 and No. 2 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (.403). Currently with 169 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 (64), Dymond Simon (37) and Danielle Orsillo (32), who have combined for 133 of ASU's 169 triples. Earlier this season the Sun Devils hit a school record 14 3-pointers in a 73-59 win at UC Davis. January paced the Sun Devils as she tied the school record with seven makes from downtown. Her 64 treys this season are an ASU single-season record.
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. This season the Sun Devils would return to the nation's elite in the category as they concluded the regular season ranked No. 5 in the country (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.
YOU CAN'T SPELL DEVILS WITHOUT `D'
If there is one thing ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne'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 - 3x) 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 15 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. Six of ASU's nine Pac-10 opponents either scored their fewest points of the season against ASU or tied for their lowest point total of the season: Arizona (38), California (41), Oregon State (36), UCLA (44), Washington (32) and Washington State (35). In Pac-10 play the Sun Devils led the league allowing only 53.0 points per game. In their first round NCAA Tournament win over Georgia (Mar. 21), the Sun Devils held Georgia to its lowest point total in NCAA play and for the first time in 75 NCAA Tournament games the Lady Bulldogs did not have a player score in double figures.
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 guard 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 (was featured 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.
In 2008-09 January experienced anything but an SI jinx as she repeated as the Pac-10's Defensive Player of the Year and was named first-team All-Pac-10. She concluded the regular season first in 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), fourth in free throw percent (.840) and 3-point FGs per game (2.0). Already ASU's all-time leader in career assists (530), 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 (263), second in free throws (392, needs 19 more free throws to pass Jodi Rathbun for first place) and seventh in scoring. In ASU's Pac-10 Tournament quarterfinal against USC (Mar. 13), January broke the school's single-season record for most 3-pointers (60, set by Amanda Levens in 2000-01). January currently has 64 3-pointers this season.
January has averaged 13.8 points and connected on 5 percent of her field goal attempts in the seven NCAA Tournament games she has played in the last two-plus seasons (missed ASU's Regional Semifinal contest in 2007 because of a concussion).
ORSILLO STEADILY REGAINING HER GAME
Junior guard Danielle Orsillo has steadily started returning to the form that had so many excited last season before her season ending knee injury. A starter in every game thus far in 2008, Orsillo averaged 7.9 points (20.3 minutes per game) and 2.3 assists while shooting 42.1 percent from the field, including 35.6 percent from 3-point range in ASU's first 20 games. In her last 13 games, however, she averaged 10.5 points (24.5 minutes per game) and 3.0 assists per game while connecting on 43 percent of her field goal attempts, including 38 percent of her 3-pointers. Nine of Orsillo's 15 double-figure scoring games have come in ASU's last 13 contests, including ASU's most recent outing against Florida State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in which she scored 10 points, including a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left, which broke a 54-54 tie and put the Sun Devils up for good.
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 in 2009, 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, 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) and 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, who was named Pac-10 honorable mention and Pac-10 Defensive honorable mention earlier this month, has continued to build on last year's success as she currently leads the team in rebounding (6.8 rpg) and blocks (1.3 bpg) and is fourth in scoring (8.1 ppg). Currently third on ASU's all-time list with 86 career blocks, Dosty needs 14 blocks to pass Fran Ciak (1987-90) for second place on the list. Dosty's 46 blocks this season currently rank fourth in ASU's single-season annals. She needs two blocks to move into second place. Dosty's success on the court extends into the classroom as well. Recently she was named the Pac-10's Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Dosty, who last spring earned her undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies, is currently working towards her Master's degree in liberal arts. Her graduate GPA is 4.00.
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.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR CHARLI?
When Arizona State had its named called on Selection Monday it marked the fifth consecutive season that the Sun Devils had earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament, the longest such streak in program history. It was the latest `first time ...' for the Sun Devils under head coach Charli Turner Thorne, who continues to build on what is the most successful period in the program's history.
This season Turner Thorne led ASU to its fifth consecutive 20-win season, also a `first' in school history and in the process joined 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.
Earlier this season Turner Thorne also led the Sun Devils on a school record 15-game winning streak, including a 22-point win at then-No. 9 California on March 5.
In 2007 Turner Thorne led ASU to its first ever appearance in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. Since the 2004-05 season the Sun Devils are 127-41, including a 10-6 record in NCAA Tournament games.
In 2005-06 Turner Thorne had the Sun Devils in the Top 10 of both polls for the first time in 22 years. If the figure `22 years' sounds familiar it's because in 2004-05 Turner Thorne led the Sun Devils to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 22 years. After leading the Sun Devils to a 25-7 in 2005-06 Turner Thorne was recognized being named the Russell Athletic/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Region 8 Coach of the Year.
On Sunday the Sun Devils will be competing for a spot in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last five years.
AT THE HEAD OF THEIR CLASS
For the third time in as many years the Arizona State women's basketball team finished on top of the Pac-10 in academics as the Sun Devils had five student-athletes named to the Pac-10's Women's Basketball All-Academic teams, announced by Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen on March 24. Included among ASU's five honorees are two first-team members (graduate student Sybil Dosty and senior Kate Engelbrecht), one second-team member (junior Danielle Orsillo) and two honorable mentions (senior Kirsten Thompson and junior Kayli Murphy). To be eligible for selection to the academic team, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.0 overall grade-point average and be either a starter or significant contributor. Last season ASU paced the Pac-10 with seven honorees, including two first-team members (Engelbrecht and former Sun Devil Jill Noe). In 2007 ASU had a school record eight honorees, including two first-team members (former Sun Devils Aubree Johnson and Emily Westerberg) and one second-team member (Engelbrecht).