By the Pac-12 Conference
The much-anticipated Pac-12 Tournament tips off this week, with all teams heading to the city of Seattle to vie for the Conference’s tournament crown at KeyArena. It is the first time the event will be taking place in Seattle. Every game of the tournament will be nationally televised, another first for the event. The first three days of competition will be broadcast on the Conference’s Pac-12 Networks, with the title game joining the Championship Week Coverage on ESPN2. The opening round tips off on Thursday, March 7 and culminates with the title game on Sunday, March 10.
The Pac-12 has four teams ranked in the top-25 again this week with STANFORD pacing the league with a No. 4 ranking in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. CALIFORNIA cracked the top five in the polling for the first time this season, earning a No. 4 ranking in both polls. UCLA reenters the top 15, ranking 14th in the AP ranking and also achieving its highest rating of the season by the coaches, coming in at No. 13. COLORADO is 18th in both polls, its highest ranking of the season.
California and Stanford claimed a share of the Pac-12 regular-season title, the first-ever for the Golden Bears and Stanford’s 22nd all-time. Both teams went 17-1 on the season. The Cardinal earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament by virtue of the tie-breaker rule.
The coaches and media agreed on the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year with both groups voting Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike as the league’s top defender. She is the first player to receive both awards in the same year. The coaches tabbed Colorado’s Arielle Roberson the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer the John R. Wooden Coach of the Year. The panel of women’s basketball media went a different way with on the final two honors, voting OREGON’s Jillian Alleyne the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and CALIFORNIA’s Lindsay Gottlieb the Pac-12 Coach of the Year.
The Pac-12 Tournament is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in the history of the event. Stanford is the six-time defending champion, but, for the first time ever, the tournament will feature four ranked teams. Additonally, the Conference continues to boast four of the nation’s top 25 rebounders, as well as three national player of the year candidates.
For more information, livestats, updated bracket, box scores, official program and more, visit championships.pac-12.com/womens-basketball/. Also follow on twitter (@pac12, @pac12live) and facebook (facebook.com/Pac12Conference).
Thursday, March 7
Gm. 1: #7 USC vs. #10 Oregon State…..P12N…..12 p.m. PT
Gm. 2: #6 Utah vs. #11 Arizona…..P12N…..2:30 p.m. PT
Gm. 3: #8 Washington State vs. #9 Arizona State…..P12N…..6 p.m. PT
Gm. 4: #5 Washington vs. #12 Oregon…..P12N…..8:30 p.m. PT
Friday, March 8
Gm. 5: #2 California vs. Winner 7/10…..P12N…..12 p.m. PT
Gm. 6: #3 UCLA vs. Winner 6/11…..P12N…..2:30 p.m. PT
Gm. 7: #1 Stanford vs. Winner 8/9 …..P12N…..6 p.m. PT
Gm. 8: #4 Colorado vs. Winner 5/12…..P12N …..8:30 p.m. PT
Saturday, March 9
Gm. 9: Gm. 5 Winner vs. Gm. 6 Winner…..P12N…..6 p.m. PT
Gm. 10: Game 7 Winner vs. Gm. 8 Winner…..P12N…..8:30 p.m. PT
Sunday, March 10
Gm. 11: Championship Game…..ESPN2…..5 p.m. PT
* game times local to site.
P12N indicates live broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks, pac-12.com and the Pac-12 Now app.
Championship game can also be viewed on ESPN3.com.
Thursday, February 28
#6/6 California at Washington State…..CAL, 73-60
#4/5 Stanford at Washington …..STAN, 71-36
Friday, March 1
#17/16 UCLA at Arizona State…..UCLA, 58-50
Utah at Oregon State…..OSU, 54-46
#19/19 Colorado at Oregon…..COLO, 60-48
USC at Arizona…..USC, 74-62
Saturday, March 2
#4/5 Stanford at Washington State…..STAN, 72-50
#6/6 California at Washington…..CAL, 78-50
Sunday, March 3
#19/19 Colorado at Oregon State…..COLO, 66-63 (OT)
USC at Arizona State…..USC, 67-60
#17/17 UCLA at Arizona…..UCLA, 68-57
Utah at Oregon…..UTAH, 70-52
PAC-12 TEAM NOTES
Arizona earned the No. 11 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament after posting a 4-14 record in Conference play. As the 12th seed in last year’s field, the Wildcats knocked off fifth-seeded UCLA in the first round before falling to ASU in the quarterfinals. SR G Davellyn is having another remarkable season, averaging a team-high 16.6 ppg and 6.2 rpg, while also leading the team in assists (149) and steals (76). She has not averaged fewer than 15.7 ppg in her career. The Pac-12’s active career scoring leader (2,036), she ranks in the top five in the Pac-12 in scoring (5th), assists (2nd, 5.14 apg) and steals (4th, 2.62 spg) this season.
Arizona State enters the field as the No. 9 seed. The Sun Devils are a season removed from a berth in the Conference semifinal but have struggled down the stretch this season, dropping nine of their final 11 games. Nine of ASU’s 17 losses have been by eight points or fewer, and five have been by six points or fewer. Among these losses were a six-point decision against then-No. 23 Dayton and a four-point defeat at the hands of then-No. 19 UCLA. Earlier this season, head coach Charli Turner Thorne became just the third coach in league history to win 300 games at a Pac-12 institution.
Pac-12 co-champion California looks to build on its finals run in last year’s Conference tournament, and with a league-best 15-game winning streak in hand, it enters the week with momentum. The Golden Bears have won a school-record 18 Conference games, marking the seventh time in eight years that a Cal squad has posted double-digit league wins. The Bears were 12-1 in road games—9-0 in Conference road games— this season. Cal ranks 24th in the country in scoring offense (71.8), 19th in scoring margin (+15.5 ppg) and fouth in rebounding margin (+11.9 rpg). JR F Gennifer Brandon ranks 18th in the country in rebounding (11.0 rpg) and 20th in double-doubles (15.0). Lindsay Gottlieb was voted the Pac-12 Coach of the Year by a panel of media who cover the league.
The Buffaloes, who were picked to finish ninth in the preseason Pac-12 Coaches Poll, locked up the fourth seed in the tournament after posting 13 league wins, more than doubling its Conference win total from last season (6). All five of Colorado’s losses have come against ranked opponents, and four have been at the hands of current top-5 foes Stanford and California. CU is ranked in the top 25 in the AP poll for the 12th straight week, marking its longest run since appearing in all 19 polls of the 2003-04 season. The Buffs rank third in the Conference and 24th in the nation in field goal percentage defense (34.7) and second in the league and 10th in the NCAA in rebounding margin (+9.2). FR F Arielle Roberson was voted the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year by the league’s coaches.
Oregon, which enters the tournament as the No. 12 seed, will meet fifth-seeded Washington in the opening round for the second straight year. FR F Jillian Alleyne was voted the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year by media who cover the league. She is the NCAA’s eighth leading rebounder (11.8) and has recorded four of the top seven rebounding efforts in the Conference this season. As a unit, the Ducks rank second in the Pac-12 in rebounding (44.1 rpg) and 3-point field goals made (5.6) and are third in blocked shots (4.4). FR G Devyn Galland leads the Pac-12 and ranks 16th in the NCAA in free throw percentage (87.5 pct.).
Oregon State is seeded tenth in the Pac-12 Tournament after compiling a 4-14 record in league games. Eight of their Conference losses were by decided five points or fewer, and three required overtime. The Beavers lost to ranked opponents Colorado and California by a combined five points in the final two weeks of the regular season. They rank ninth in the NCAA in blocked shots per game (5.6) and boast the 18th-best field goal percentage defense in the country (second in the Pac-12), limiting opponents to just 34.8 percent from the field.
Six-time defending tournament champion Stanford earned a share of the Pac-12 title and the tournament’s top seed. It went 17-1 in against Conference competition and ended the regular season on a 14-game winning streak. The Cardinal owns the league’s best scoring margin (+19.5) and ranks in the top 25 in the nation in 12 statistical categories. It ranks in the top five in four of those categories: win-loss percentage (4th, 93.3), field goal percentage defense (2nd, 31.6), turnovers per game (3rd, 11.8) and 3-point field goal defense (2nd, 23.0). JR F Chiney Ogwumike, who ranks in the top five in the NCAA in points per game (3rd, 22.9), rebounds per game (5th, 12.7), field goal percentage (2nd, 59.1) and double-doubles (2nd, 24), picked up Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors from the league’s coaches. Additionally, Tara VanDerveer was voted the Pac-12 Coach of the Year by her peers.
The Bruins won 10 of their final 12 games to claim the third seed and a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. Five of UCLA’s six losses this season have come against teams ranked in the top seven in the country at the time of meeting. The Bruins have also defeated four ranked opponents this year. They rank at or near the top of the Conference in a number of offensive categories, including assists (1st, 16.8), scoring offense (3rd, 68.4 ppg), rebounding offense (3rd, 43.0 rpg) and field goal percentage (3rd, .427). Nationally, they rank 25th in rebounding margin (+7.3) and 13th in assists per game (16.8).
USC rounded out the Conference schedule the same way it opened it—with a pair of wins. The Trojans earned decisive victories over Arizona and Arizona State to gain some momentum heading into the tournament. The seventh-seeded Trojans are led by JR F Cassie Harberts, who is averaging 17.9 ppg (third in the Pac-12) and 8.1 rpg (seventh in the Pac-12) in 2012-13. She has been even better since Conference play began, averaging 18.6 ppg (third in the Pac-12) and 8.4 rpg (seventh in the Pac-12). USC’s 4-0 start to open the league slate marks its best start since the 2004-05 season.
Utah reeled off six wins in its final eight games —five by double-digit margins— to close out the regular season and earned the sixth seed in the Pac-12 tournament. Defensively, the Utes rank in the top third of the Conference in 3-point field goal percentage defense (2nd, .270), scoring defense (3rd, 55.0), field goal percentage defense (4th, .364) and rebounding defense (4th, 34.9). The Utes feature one of the best frontcourt tandems in the league in JR F Michelle Plouffe and Wicijowski. Both players rank in the top eight in the league in scoring and in the top 11 in rebounding.
Washington earned the No. 5 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament after posting an 11-7 record in league play. For the second straight year, it will meet Oregon in the first round. The Huskies’ 11 Conference wins are the most since the 2006-07 season, during which they also finished with an 11-7 league record. Washington ranks 10th in the nation in three-pointers made per game (3.2), and SR G Kristi Kingma’s 2.86 treys per contest rank 21st nationally. UW also ranks fifth in the NCAA in turnovers per game (12.2) and 18th in turnover margin (5.14). SO F Aminah Williams ranks 24th in the nation with 10.7 rpg.
Washington State enters the tournament as the No. 8 seed after going 6-12 in Conference play. Last season, the 11th-seeded Cougars marched into the semifinal where they lost to California. Paced by the Pac-12 leader in steals, FR G Lia Galdeira (2.80 spg), WSU ranks third in the Conference in takeaways per game (9.6). Galdeira, who ranks seventh in the league in scoring (14.87ppg), is the Pac-12’s top-scoring freshman. WSU went on a four-game win streak from Jan. 27-Feb. 8, the team’s longest in Conference play since 1994-95.