Women's basketball hosts USC and UCLA

Game Notes in PDF Format

The Arizona State women’s basketball team closes out its season-long, five-game homestand this week when it hosts USC (Thurs., 6:30 p.m. MT) and UCLA (Sat., 4 p.m. MT) at Wells Fargo Arena.

The Sun Devils (10-2, 1-0 Pac-12) are one of four teams (Stanford, Washington State and Colorado) which made it out of the first weekend of Pac-12 play unbeaten following their 60-45 State Farm Territorial Cup Series win over Arizona on Saturday.

ASU came through with a brilliant defensive performance against the Wildcats, who came into the game on a six-game winning streak. The Sun Devils held the Wildcats to more than 28 points under their 73.3-points-per-game average.

Kimberly Brandon and Micaela Pickens each scored 13 points to pace ASU, which used an 11-0 run in the second half to take control of the game after trailing Arizona 26-25 at the half. As a team, the Sun Devils had 19 assists and only 10 turnover, their second-lowest turnover total of the season. ASU also outrebounded Arizona 46-33, including 18-5 on the offensive glass, which led to an 11-2 advantage in second-chance points.

The Sun Devils will look to continue their success at home this week where they are 8-0 in 2011-12. A win against USC on Thursday would match ASU’s longest winning streak of the season (four games). Wins in both games this weekend would give ASU its first 3-0 start in conference play since 2008.

USC (6-6, 1-1 Pac-12) came into the Pac-12 season as arguably the most battle-tested squad in the conference after enduring a non-conference slate which included five teams ranked in the Top 40 of the current NCAA’s RPI. The Women of Troy opened conference play with a split after falling to No. 4 Stanford 61-53 before rebounding to defeat Cal 74-54. USC is led by a trio of players who are currently ranked in the top 16 of the Pac-12 in scoring -- senior guard Ashley Corral (12th - 12.2 ppg), sophomore forward Cassie Harberts (14th - 12.0 ppg) and senior guard Briana Gilbreath (16th - 11.4 ppg).

Thursday’s game can be heard live on The Fan AM 1060. It can also be heard on thesundevils.com (premium subscription required). Coverage will begin at 6 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 Thursday’s game at www.foxsportsarizona.com.

• USC has won 50 of the 68 all-time meetings against ASU, including three of the last five contests. USC’s win over ASU in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Pac-10 Tournament snapped a seven-game winning streak by ASU in the series. USC swept the season series in 2010-11 (60-56 in Tempe and 62-52 in Los Angeles) before the Sun Devils bounced back to sweep the series last season (62-61 in Los Angeles and 69-55 in Tempe).
• As of Jan. 1, the Sun Devils are ranked No. 6 in the nation in blocks per game (6.9), No. 10 in 3-point FG pct. defense (.232), No. 12 in field goal pct. defense (.319) and No. 21 in scoring defense (51.3 ppg). The Sun Devils lead the Pac-12 in all of the aforementioned categories and are ranked in the top third of the conference in steals (t2nd/11.0 spg), assists (3rd/15.7 apg) and turnover margin (3rd/+1.7).   
• ASU was rated No. 29 in the first official NCAA RPI of the season, released earlier this week.
• Since 2004 ASU has won 84 percent (96-18) of the games it has played at Wells Fargo Arena. ASU is outscoring the opposition by an average of 20.9 points in eight home games (8-0) this season and has shot 46 percent in those games.
Promise Amukamara is shooting 80 percent (16-20 FGs) in ASU’s last five contests. She has scored a career-best 12 points twice in that stretch.
• ASU has held seven of its 12 opponents to 50 or fewer points. Since 2005-06, ASU is 53-1 when it has held the opposition to 50 or fewer points. The Sun Devils have given up more than 59 points only once this season (DePaul - 73).
• ASU has had the same starting lineup for every game this season - Deja Mann, Alex Earl, Micaela Pickens, Kimberly Brandon and Kali Bennett.
• ASU’s bench has outscored (25.5 ppg) the opposition’s bench (14.6 ppg) in all but one game this season (vs. UTEP, Dec. 28).
• 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 every opponent below each of their respective scoring averages and have held all but one opponent below their field goal percentage for the season.

DePaul became the first of ASU’s 2011-12 opponents to shoot a better percentage than it did coming into the game as it shot 46 percent in its 73-55 win over ASU on Dec. 16 in Chicago.

The Sun Devils have held their last three opponents to under 50 points (Army - 46, UTEP - 45 and Arizona - 45), the first time that has happened since the second half of the 2008-09 Pac-10 season (Washington - 32, Washington State - 35 and California - 41).