The Pacific-12 Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament is set to tipoff Thursday at Key Arena in Seattle, with Arizona State as the No. 9 seed and Arizona as the No. 11 seed, plus top seeds Stanford and California battling for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
No. 7 USC (7-11, 10-19) vs No. 10 Oregon State (4-14, 10-20), noon PT
No. 6 Utah (8-10, 17-12) vs No. 11 Arizona (4-14, 12-17), 2:30 p.m. PT
No. 8 Washington State (6-12, 10-19) vs No. 9 Arizona State (5-13, 13-17), 6 p.m. PT
No. 5 Washington (11-7, 19-10) vs No. 12 Oregon (2-16, 4-26), 8:30 p.m. PT
No. 2 California (17-1, 27-2 and ranked No. 5 nationally) vs USC-OSU, noon PT
No. 3 UCLA (14-4, 23-6, No. 14 in the nation) vs Utah-Arizona, 2:30 p.m. PT
No. 1 Stanford (17-1, 28-2, No. 4 in the nation) vs WSU-ASU, 6 p.m. PT
No. 4 Colorado (13-5, 24-5, No. 18 in the nation) vs Wash.-Oregon, 8:30 p.m. PT
Coming off Sunday’s Senior Day loss to USC, the Sun Devils prepare to face Washington State and its dynamic freshman guard Lia Galdeira, who finished seventh in the league in scoring at 14.7 points per game and also had a conference-high 2.8 steals. Entering the tournament, WSU has lost five in a row, although the last two were to Cal and Stanford.
The Cougars defeated Ohio State, when the Buckeyes were ranked 20th Dec. 15 and also won at Gonzaga and versus BYU. Having lost to Louisville, Syracuse, Fresno State, and Minnesota prepared them for the conference schedule. They defeated the Sun Devils, 77-65, Jan. 6 in Pullman and 54-43 Feb. 1 in Tempe. In the January game, WSU’s Tia Presley scored 27 and Galdeira was limited to four points in 16 minutes, while ASU’s Janae Fulcher had 23 and seven, Joy Burke 14 and eight, and now-departed Jada Blackwell 11 and eight. Galdeira went for 20 points, eight rebounds and seven steals at Wells Fargo Arena, and Arencia Hawkins scored 18 for ASU.
Galdeira was edged out by Oregon’s center Jillian Alleyne (11.3 ppg, 10.6 rpg) for Freshman of the Year.
“Our team is excited to play Washington State,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “We did not beat Washington State this year, but they are a good team, and we did not feel like we played our best against them. Obviously, you have to credit them to that. I don’t think there’s anybody, short of Stanford, who is our second-round matchup should we advance, that we would not be OK playing because every other team in the conference we played with. Cal, we kept up with down the stretch, but our team feels like ‘Hey, bring it on,’ and there’s a lot of teams we’d like to play again, so it might as well be Washington State.”
Arizona, which has lost 12 of the last 13, opens with a Utah team it defeated twice this year, 61-52 in Tucson and 62-58 in Salt Lake City. They will match the outside play of 5-foot-11 senior guard Davellyn Whyte with the inside presence of 6-foot-4 Ute center Michelle Plouffe, who played for Team Canada in the Olympics.
In the game at Utah, Whyte scored 23 points, with 11 rebounds, six assists, and six steals, while Plouffe had 18 points, nine rebounds, five steals, and three blocks. Plouffe had 21 points and 16 rebounds at the McKale Center, while Whyte had 21 and nine. The Utes’ best win is over Michigan.
Winning the regular season title for the 13th-consecutive year, Stanford has the win over Baylor in Hawaii and at Tennessee, but was killed at home to Connecticut. The loss to the Golden Bears in Palo Alto, 67-55, is its only close game since New Year’s. Stanford defeated California in Berkeley 62-53, and it had to go to the third tiebreaker- overall winning percentage- to receive the top seed in the tourney, which is has done in all 12 of the events since its inception.
Chiney Ogwumike, averaging 22.9 points and 12.7 rebounds, was named the conference’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, and is a threat with Baylor’s Brittney Griner for the National Player of the Year.
Cal, which lost at Duke in December and at home to the Cardinal, only beat Oregon State by two last week in Berkeley and was pushed to overtime with USC in January. The Wildcats came within five points of winning at the Golden Bears Feb. 10, as well.
Lindsay Gottlieb, in her second season with Cal, was named Coach of the Year Monday.
UCLA went undefeated in the Pac-12 to teams that don’t play in the Bay Area. It’s best non-conference win is at Oklahoma, and it lost to Notre Dame by 12 and to Cal State Northridge, which went under .500 in the Big West Conference, by five Dec. 20 at Pauley Pavilion.
Colorado, which has won nine straight, fell by three at the Golden Bears and has a big win over Louisville on its resume.
The Washington Huskies own a win over Mountain West leader San Diego State, but went 0-5 against the top four in the Pac-12 and are on the bubble for an NCAA at-large bid.
In last season’s event at Los Angeles, 12th-seeded Arizona upset No. 5 UCLA, 61-57 in the opening round before falling to the No. 4 Sun Devils in the quarterfinals. Stanford went on to beat ASU in the semifinals, then Cal by 15 for its sixth-consecutive championship, before falling to Baylor in the Final Four.