6:00 PM ET, February 10, 2007
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Aubree Johnson will always remember her final home game at Arizona State.Johnson scored a career-high 27 points, the most by a Sun Devil this season, to lead Arizona State (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today; No. 10 AP) to a 78-63 victory over Oregon State on Saturday.Johnson hit 12-of-15 shots from the floor, the most points and field goals by an ASU player this season.Johnson's explosion came on an emotional day for her and fellow senior Emily Westerberg. The co-captains and best friends were honored with bouquets in a pregame ceremony and received a long standing ovation when they came out with 2:23 to play."I definitely was just trying to stay in kind of a neutral position emotionally," Johnson said. "It definitely is sad, but at the same time it's just exciting."Johnson and Westerberg grew up in the same area -- Johnson in Post Falls, Idaho, and Westerberg in Greenacres, Wash. -- and became close while playing AAU ball together. Their bond showed when Westerberg choked up during the postgame news conference and Johnson comforted her."It's just been pretty awesome because we've been able to do it all together," Johnson said. "For the past 10 years we've been able to play together, so our families are really close. We're obviously best friends, so it's really awesome that we get to do it together and it's just us [as seniors]. It couldn't be better. It was amazing."ASU fans would agree. The Sun Devils are 54-4 at Wells Fargo Arena since Westerberg and Johnson arrived in 2003-04.The Sun Devils (23-3, 13-2 Pac-10) finish the regular season with three road games -- at USC, at UCLA and at Arizona.It has been an emotional season for Johnson, whose 15-year-old brother, Jordan Johnson, died in his sleep after watching his sister play in a November tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Westerberg attended the funeral.The Sun Devils' respect for the seniors was evident. It seemed as if teammates were looking to feed Johnson or Westerberg every time down the floor. Westerberg finished with 10 points."They've meant so much to our program, I think everybody played with a little bit more passion tonight," coach Charli Turner Thorne said.Kirsten Thompson had 17 points and eight rebounds for Arizona State, which defeated the Beavers for the ninth straight time.Casey Nash, the Pac-10's leading scorer with 20.4 points per game, led Oregon State (8-15, 3-11) with 24 points. The Beavers have lost seven of eight.Arizona State wasted little time in taking a lead against the Beavers, who have five freshman on their nine-player roster. The Sun Devils scored the game's first eight points, with Reagan Pariseau hitting a pair of jumpers to spark the run.Arizona State led 46-35 at halftime and cruised the rest of the way.Moments after the final buzzer, Westerberg took the public address microphone to thank the 4,145 fans for their support. Then she said the Sun Devils hoped to see them at the Final Four.A bold prediction? Perhaps."We have worked the entire year to go to the Final Four," Westerberg said. "Our goal is to just keep getting better. We obviously cannot get ahead of ourselves. That's a month and a half away. We want to set our goals high."
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