This week in Pac-12 women's basketball
By the Pac-12 Conference
One game separates the top three teams in the Pac-12, and that could change this weekend as sixth-ranked California and No. 4/5 Stanford travel to No. 15/16 UCLA. The Bruins will be looking to avenge early-season losses to both teams. UCLA will host the Golden Bears on the Pac-12 Networks on Friday, Feb. 15, then host the Cardinal on Sunday, Feb. 17 on ESPNU.
USC will also host Cal and Stanford on the Pac-12 Networks this weekend, while Washington State heads to Oregon for a televised matchup on the Networks. WSU's victory over USC last week capped a four-game winning streak, the Cougars' longest since the 2008-09 season. The run was also WSU's longest in Conference play since 1994-95. A rare Monday night women's game is also on the slate, with Washington taking on Oregon State in Corvallis. That game will also be televised on the Conference's Networks. Check local listings. The Huskies have already clinched a non-losing Conference record, their first since 2006-07. They will try to go for their first double-digit league win since that same year.
The Pac-12 has four teams ranked in the top-25 again this week with Stanford pacing the league with top-five rankings in both polls. The Cardinal came in at No. 4 in the Associated Press poll and No. 5 in ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. California is ranked No. 6/6, followed by UCLA at No. 15/16 and Colorado at No. 21/25.
Colorado's Chucky Jeffery was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week for the second time this season after posting back-to-back double-doubles last week and reaching the 1,500-point career milestone. Washington's Talia Walton was the Conference's Freshman of the Week for the third time this season.
Oregon's Jillian Alleyene and California's Gennifer Brandon account for the two highest single-game rebounding games in NCAA Division I this season. Alleyene grabbed 27 in a non-conference tilt in November to set the overall league mark and the most by a player in the country this season. Brandon's 26 last week are the second-most. Alleyene's 23 rebounding effort against Oklahoma in November is also in the top-five in single-season performances this season in the NCAA.
Alleyne and Brandon are two of several players from the Pac-12 who figure prominently in the NCAA stats. The league boasts four of the top-20 rebounders in the country, including Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike, who ranks sixth in the category (12.4), just ahead of Alleyne, who ranks seventh (12.5). Brandon ranks 13th (11.6) and UW's Aminah Williams ranks 20th (10.9).
Friday, February 15
#6/6 California at #15/16 UCLA….P12N….6 p.m. PT
Utah at Arizona State….Live Stream….7 p.m. MT
#21/25 Colorado at Arizona….Live Stream….7 p.m. MT
Washington at Oregon….Live Stream….7 p.m. PT
Washington State at Oregon State….Live Stream….7 p.m. PT
#4/5 Stanford at USC….P12N….8 p.m. PT
Sunday, February 17
#4/5 Stanford at #15/16 UCLA….ESPNU….12:30 p.m. PT
#21/25 Colorado at Arizona State….Live Stream….2 p.m. MT
#6/6 California at USC….P12N….2 p.m. PT
Washington State at Oregon….P12N….4 p.m. PT
Utah at Arizona….Live Stream….5 p.m. MT
Monday, February 18
Washington at Oregon State….P12N….6 p.m. PT
* game times local to site. Live stream of games are available at pac-12.com.
P12N indicates live broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks, pac-12.com and the Pac-12 Now app.
Friday, February 8
Oregon State at #21/25 Colorado….COLO, 84-59
Oregon at Utah….UTAH,67-47
USC at Washington State….WSU, 57-54
Arizona at #4/5 Stanford….STAN, 73-43
#17/17 UCLA at Washington….UCLA, 65-61
Arizona State at #6/6 California….CAL, 66-53
Sunday, February 10
#17/17 UCLA at Washington State….UCLA, 80-65
Arizona at #6/6 California….CAL, 91-86
Oregon State at Utah….UTAH, 66-40
Oregon at #21/25 Colorado….COLO, 84-59
USC at Washington ….WASH, 61-58
Arizona State at #4/5 Stanford….STAN, 69-45
PAC-12 TEAM NOTES
The Wildcats nearly pulled off an upset of No. 6 California over the weekend, getting to within four points after being down by 12 with only 2:04 remaining. The Golden Bears, however, managed to hang on for the five-point win. SR G Davellyn Whyte scored six of UA's 11 points in the final minutes, and dished out an assist for a three-pointer with 27 seconds remaining to make it a four-point game. Whyte, the Conference's active career scoring leader (1,931), has had another standout season, averaging 16.4 ppg and 5.6 rpg, while leading the team in assists (110) and steals (59). She has not averaged less than 15.7 ppg in her career. She ranks in the top four in the Pac-12 in scoring, assists (2nd, 4.78), steals (4th, 2.57) and three-pointers made per game (4th, 2.43). Arizona leads the league in free throw percentage (.717).
Arizona State will play its final six regular season games in the Grand Canyon State, with its only remaining road tilt slated against Arizona in Tucson. Five of ASU's 13 losses this season have been by six or fewer points. 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. Injuries have plagued the Sun Devils in recent weeks, and last week was no exception. SR F Janae Fulcher, the team's leading scorer (11.3 ppg), was limited to just 15 minutes of action over the weekend. Fulcher ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage (.520) and ninth in free throw percentage (.746). 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.
California sits in a tie for first in the Pac-12, picking up its 10th and 11th league wins of the season. It is the seventh time in eight years the Bears have logged double-digit Conference wins and the second-straight year to have done so. Cal boasts the longest, active winning streak in the Conference, having won their last nine games. It is also the team's longest win streak since the 2008-09 season when it won 12 in a row. Cal is ranked sixth in the country in both major polls, again. It has the fifth-best rebounding margin in the nation (+11.6) on the strength of Gennifer Brandon's 11.6 rpg, which ranks 13th in the country. Cal is also outscoring its opponents by an average of 15.2 ppg, which ranks 23rd in the NCAA.
After a two-week road stint, the Buffaloes returned to Boulder last week and won a pair of contests against the Oregon schools. Colorado, which has won three straight games, hits the road again this week to take on Arizona and Arizona State. Each of CU's five losses this season has come against a ranked opponent, and four have come against top-10 foes Stanford and California. SR F Chucky Jeffery garnered Pac-12 Player of the week accolades after a weekend in which she recorded back-to-back double doubles and eclipsed the 1,500-point milestone for her career. She scored 22 points and grabbed 11 boards against Oregon State and followed it up with a 15-point, 15-rebound effort against Oregon. The Conference's active career leader in assists (445) and steals (269), Jeffery is averaging team highs of 13.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 4.0 apg and 2.4 spg this season. The Buffs rank second in the Pac-12 and 12th in the nation in rebounding margin (+9.2 rpg).
The Ducks, paced by FR F Jillian Alleyne, lead the league in rebounding (45.4 rpg), rank second in 3-point field goals made (5.92) and are third in blocked shots (4.38 bpg). Alleyne is the nation's seventh-leading rebounder and ranks second in the Conference, pulling down 12.2 boards per game, and she has posted four of the top six single-game rebounding performances in the Conference this year (27, 23, 19, 18). She has ranked in the top 10 in rebounding in the country all season. No Oregon player, and only one freshman in Conference history, has led the league in rebounding over the course of a single season. FR G Devyn Galland leads the Pac-12 and ranks 19th in the NCAA in free throw percentage (87.5 pct.).
Oregon State looks to bounce back from a six-game slide that culminated with a pair of road losses against Colorado and Utah last week. The Beavers have seen significant contributions from their younger players, particularly during Conference play. Freshmen and sophomores have accounted for 57.6 percent of OSU's total minutes played this season, with freshman shouldering much of the load (42.7 percent). Since league play began, four underclassmen rank in the top six on the squad in minutes played, and FR G Jamie Weisner (12.3 ppg) and FR F Deven Hunter (6.3 rpg) lead the team in points and rebounds, respectively. No freshman tandem in school history has accomplished that feat over the course of a season. The Beavers rank eighth as a team in blocked shots per game (5.9) and boast the 16th-best field goal percentage defense in the country (second in the Pac-12), holding opponents to just 34.4 percent from the field.
Ranked fourth in the AP poll and fifth by the coaches, the Cardinal rank in the top-10 in the nation in five statistical categories, including boasting the country's best defensive three-point field goal percentage, limiting opponents to just 23.6 percent shooting from behind the arc. It also ranks in the 25 in the NCAA in nine total statistical categories. Stanford is led by All-American Chiney Ogwumike, who leads the Pac-12 in scoring (22.4) and rebounding (12.4), also ranking fourth and sixth, respectively. She is sixth in shooting efficiency, knocking down 58.8 percent of her shots, whiler her 19 double-doubles are second-most in the country. The Cardinal sit in a tie for first place with Bay Area rival California. Stanford has won double-digit league games every year since 1987-88, the second year the Conference began sponsoring women's sports.
UCLA ran its winning streak to six games—matching its previous season high—with victories over Washington and Washington State last week. Against WSU, the Bruins shot .638 from the field, marking the first time in 13 years that a UCLA squad shot better than 60 percent for a game. The Bruins, who are 10-2 at Pauley Pavilion, head home to take on No. 6 California and No. 4 Stanford this week. The Bears and Cardinal handed UCLA its only Conference losses of the season, each posting home wins over the Bruins in late January. The Bruins rank at or near the top of the Conference in a number of offensive categories, including assists (1st, 16.4), scoring offense (3rd, 70.3 ppg), field goal percentage (2nd, .432) and free throw percentage (3rd, .696). Nationally, they rank 15th in rebounding margin (+8.7) and 22nd in assists per game (16.4).
The Trojans won their first four games in Conference competition and posted a perfect record through the first three weeks of January, but has hit a tough stretch, dropping its last four games, including a pair of three-point setbacks at Washington State and Washington, respectively. USC's 4-0 start to open the league slate marks its best start since the 2004-05 season. The Trojans had been without SR F Christina Marinacci for much of the Pac-12 season, having only played four league games. JR F Cassie Harberts, who averaged 11.9 ppg and 6.2 rpg in 2011-12, has been outstanding for USC, averaging 17.9 ppg (third in the Pac-12) and 7.9 rpg (seventh in the Pac-12) in 2012-13. She has been even better since Conference play began, averaging 19.0 ppg (third in the Pac-12) and 8.3 rpg (seventh in the Pac-12).
Utah registered its first weekend sweep in Pac-12 play, taking down Oregon and Oregon State in convincing fashion. Utah's 67-point scoring output against Oregon was its highest since pinning 71 points on Houston Baptist on Dec. 15. The Utes feature one of the best frontcourt tandems in the league in JR F Michelle Plouffe and RS-JR F Taryn Wicijowski. Both players rank in the top nine in the league in scoring and in the top 13 in rebounding. Wicijowski, who has connected on 52.0 percent of her field goal attempts, ranks fifth in the Conference in field goal percentage. Plouffe ranks in the top 10 in the Conference in both steals (9th, 2.2 spg) and blocks (6th, 1.3 bpg). As a unit, Utah has committed the 18th-fewest turnovers per game in the nation (13.8) and leads the Pac-12 in 3-point field goal percentage (.344). SR G Iwalani Rodrigues is the Conference's top shooter from beyond the arc (.380).
With a split over the L.A. schools over the weekend, the Huskies clinch their first non-losing Conference record since 2006-07. The year, UW went 11-7 for the second-straight year and made its second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Washington was helped to the weekend split by FR F Talia Walton, who was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for the third time this season. She averaged 15.5 ppg and 7.0 rebounds over the two games to earn the honor. The Huskies rank seventh in the NCAA in turnovers per game, committing just 12.6 per game. Its 5.61 turnover margin ranks 15th in the country. SO G Jazmine Davis is averaging 19.9 points per game, 17th-best in the NCAA. Teammate Aminah Williams' has been one of the top rebounders in the nation most of the season, ranking 20th this week at 10.9 rpg. SR G Kristi Kingma's 2.83 threes per game rank 22nd nationally.
Washington State earned a home split with USC and No. 17 UCLA last week, edging the Trojans, 57-54, on Friday before falling to the Bruins, 80-65, on Sunday. The win over USC capped a four-game winning streak, the Cougars' longest since the 2008-09 season. The run was also WSU's longest in Conference play since 1994-95. SR C Carly Noyes established a new school record for career starts (111) in Sunday's loss to UCLA. With 117 career appearances under her belt, she needs to see action in just five more games to tie the school mark for games played (122). Paced by the Pac-12's leader in steals, FR G Lia Galdeira, WSU ranks second in the Conference in takeaways per game (10.1). Galdeira who ranks eighth in the league in scoring (14.7 ppg) is the second-leading scorer among Pac-12 freshman.