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Women's basketball goes on the road to face WSU, UW

January 26, 2012

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The Arizona State women's basketball team will be making its second road trip in three weeks when it travels to Washington to take on Washington State (Thurs., at 7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT) and Washington (Sat., at 2 p.m. PT/3 p.m. MT).

The Sun Devils (13-5, 4-3 Pac-12) come into this week's action in sole possession in fourth place in the Pac-12. They are currently one game behind second-place USC (10-7, 5-2 Pac-12), which goes on the road this week to take on Colorado (Thursday) and Utah (Saturday).

The Sun Devils went 9-2 in non-conference place and won their first Pac-12 contest (defeated Arizona 60-45 on Dec. 31) before losing three straight games vs. USC, vs. UCLA and at Oregon State. ASU has since rebounded with three straight victories, most recently coming through with a pair of home wins last week over Colorado (64-43) and Utah (59-51).

Senior posts Kimberly Brandon (16.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 10-15 FGs) and Kali Bennett (12.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 4.5 bpg, 12-24 FGs) combined to average 28.0 points and shoot 56 percent (22-39) for the Sun Devils, who shot 93 percent (28-30) from the free throw line in the two wins.

Brandon scored 20 points (the most by a Sun Devil this season and one point short of tying her career high) in the win against Colorado. Two days later against Utah it was Bennett who came through with a virtuoso performance as she came within one rebound and three blocks of a triple double (12 points, nine rebounds, seven blocks). Bennett's seven blocks tied the single-game school record originally set by Kym Hampton in 1981.

The Sun Devils continued to excel on the defensive end in the two wins as the Buffaloes and Utes combined to shoot 34 percent and average 47.0 points in the two games. In the win against Colorado, the Sun Devils held the Buffaloes to nine first-half points, the fewest points ever scored by Colorado in a half and a tie for the second-fewest points ever allowed by ASU in a half.

Washington State (9-10, 3-4 Pac-12) has lost its last four contests since opening the Pac-12 schedule with three straight wins. Three of those four losses were by single-digit margins, including a 57-56 loss to Colorado and most recently a 60-55 loss at Cal on Sunday. The Cougars are led by senior guard Jazmine Perkins (8.7 ppg and 7.4 rpg) and junior center Carly Noyes (7.9 ppg, 54.5 FG pct). Washington State's leading scorer Ireti Amojo (9.0 ppg) was lost for the season to a knee injury which occurred the opening weekend of Pac-12 play.

The Cougars are currently in a three-way tie (Colorado and UCLA) for fifth place in the Pac-12, one game behind the Sun Devils.

Thursday's game at Washington State can be heard live on The Fan AM 1060. Coverage will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Valley. 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.

• ASU holds a 36-14 advantage in the all-time series with Washington State and has won 25 of the last 28 meetings with the Cougars. Washington State's only wins in the last 28 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 crecord for the fewest points ever allowed in a Pac-10 game with a 59-30 win over the Cougars.
• As of Jan. 23, ASU is ranked No. 7 in the nation in blocks (6.4 bpg), No. 8 in FG pct. defense (.331) and No. 15 in scoring defense (52.2 ppg). Within the Pac-12, ASU leads the conference in all the aforementioned categories, is second in steals (10.9 spg) and turnover margin (+2.1) and is third in assists (14.8 apg).
• ASU is shooting 87 percent (40-46) from the line in its last three games, which is more than 22 percent higher than its percentage for the season (64.9).  
• Senior F Kimberly Brandon has averaged 15.3 points (+4.7 above her season average), 7.3 rebounds and 3.6 steals while shooting 54 percent (14-26) in ASU's last three games. Brandon is 4-5 (.800) from 3-point range and 14-16 (.875) from the free throw line during that stretch.
• Senior F/C Kali Bennett has averaged 12.2 points in ASU's last 5 contests (+4.0 above her season average) and has grabbed 7 or more rebounds 8 times in ASU's last 15 games, including a season-best 12 boards in ASU's win at Oregon (Jan. 14).
• Bennett, who in Saturday's win against Utah tied ASU's single-game record for most blocks (7), needs seven more blocks to break ASU's single-season record of 55 set by Kym Hampton in 1980-81.
• ASU has held nine of its 18 opponents to 50 or fewer points. Since 2005-06, ASU is 55-1 when it has held the opposition to 50 or fewer points. The Sun Devils have given up more than 59 points only three times this season (DePaul - 73, USC - 60, UCLA - 64).
• ASU's bench has outscored (23.4 ppg) the opposition's bench (12.9 ppg) in all but two games this season (vs. UTEP - Dec. 28 and at Oregon - Jan. 14).
• ASU's non-conference winning pct. (.818/9-2 record) this season was its highest since 2006-07 (.909/10-1 record).

One of the hallmarks of ASU's formula for success over the years has been defense. It has been no different in 2011-12 as the Sun Devils have been consistently coming through with dominant performances throughout the season. How dominant? Thus far in 2011-12 the Sun Devils have held all but one opponent (UCLA) below their scoring average and have held all but two opponents (DePaul and UCLA) below their field goal percentage for the season. Five times this season ASU has held an opponent 20 or more points below its scoring average, including twice in its last three games -- at Oregon (-28.9) and vs. Colorado (-22.9).

ASU currently has two of the top 12 shot blockers in the Pac-12 -- Kali Bennett (2nd, 2.7 bpg) and Micaela Pickens (t12th, 1.0 bpg) and two players who are ranked among the top 15 in the conference in steals per game -- Pickens (t-7th, 2.0 spg) and Kimberly Brandon (t-9th, 2.1 spg) .