Six Pac-12 teams tip off postseason action
By the Pac-12 Conference
Four Pac-12 teams earned NCAA Tournament bids, the most since 2007. The Spokane Region's top seed, STANFORD, is looking to make its sixth-straight trip to the NCAA Final Four. CALIFORNIA is the No. 2 seed in the Spokane Region, the program's highest-ever seeding in the tournament. UCLA equaled the program's best-ever seeding, earning the No. 3 seed in the Oklahoma City Regional. COLORADO is the five seed in the Norfolk Regional, making its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2004 ... Joining the above four teams in the postseason are UTAH and WASHINGTON, who received invitations to the WNIT ... Cal and Stanford earned a share of the Pac-12 regular-season title, but the Cardinal claimed the Pac-12 Tournament title for the seventh-straight year ... The four NCAA Tournament teams are ranked in the national polls this week, with Stanford leading the way at No. 4. It is the 13th consecutive week four Pac-12 teams are ranked in the Associated Poll this season ... Four Pac-12 players were selected Region 8 All-American candidates by the WBCA: Cal's Gennifer Brandon and Layshia Clarendon, Colorado's Chucky Jeffery and Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike.
NCAA TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
NCAA Tournament games to be televised on ESPN2.
Saturday, March 23 • First Round (Lubbock, Texas)
#2 CALIFORNIA (28-3) vs. #15 Fresno State (24-8) 1:20 pm PT/4:20 pm ET
#7 Texas Tech (21-10) vs. #15 S. Florida (21-10) 3:50 pm PT/6:50 pm ET
Monday, March 25 • Second Round (Lubbock, Texas)
First round game winners 6:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, March 24 • First Round (Stanford, Calif.)
#1 STANFORD (31-2) vs. #16 Tulsa (16-16) 2:20 pm PT/5:20 pm ET
#8 Michigan (21-10) vs. #9 Villanova (21-10) 4:50 pm PT/7:50 pm ET
Tuesday, March 26 • Second Round (Stanford, Calif.)
First round game winners 6:30 pm PT/9:30 pm ET
Saturday, March 23 • First Round (Boulder, Colo.)
#4 South Carolina (24-7) vs. #13 S. Dakota St. (25-7) 1:10 pm PT/4:10 pm ET
#5 COLORADO (25-6) vs. #12 Kansas (18-13) 3:40 pm PT/6:40 pm ET
Monday, March 25 • Second Round (Boulder, Colo.)
First round game winners 6:30 pm PT/9:30 pm ET
OKLAHOMA CITY REGIONAL
Saturday, March 23 • First Round (Columbus, Ohio)
#6 Oklahoma (22-10) vs. #11 C. Michigan (21-11) 8:10 am PT/11:10 am ET
#3 UCLA (25-7) vs. #14 Stetson (24-8) 10:40 am PT/1:40 am PT
Monday, March 25 • Second Round (Columbus, Ohio)
First round game winners 4 pm PT/7 pm ET
Wednesday, March 20 •Utah at Long Beack State 7 pm PT
Friday, March 22 • Eastern Washington at Washington 7 pm PT
PAC-12 TEAM NOTES
The Wildcats were the 11th seed in the Pac-12 Tournament and tied for 10th in the Conference standings, two spots better than the 12th-place finish from 2011-12. SR G Davellyn Whyte capped a stellar career, averaging a team-high 16.8 ppg and 6.3 rpg while also leading the team in assists (155) and steals (78). She has not averaged fewer than 15.7 ppg in her career. She ranks in the top five in the Pac-12 in scoring (4th), assists (2nd, 5.17 apg) and steals (4th, 2.60 spg) this season, while also ranking 15th in rebounding. The Conference's active scoring leader with 2,059 points, she is among the top-15 scorers in Pac-12 history (13th).
Head coach Charli Turner Thorne made a return to the sidelines this season after taking a one-year hiatus. This season, she became just the third coach in league history to win 300 games at a Pac-12 institution. The Sun Devils struggled this season, finishing ninth in the Pac-12 standings, their lowest finish since the 1996-97 campaign. ASU snapped a 13-year string of postseason appearnces, while only just a year removed from a NCAA Tournament bid. ASU ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in assists per game, dishing out 13.16 apg. Arizona State was without SR G Deja Mann, who missed the entire season after starting every game in 2011-12. This season, the team was led by SR F Janae Fulcher, who averaged 11.5 ppg. She tallied 20 points in the Pac-12 Tournament loss to Washington State in the first round. ASU will welcome back two of its top three scorers from this season.
The Pac-12 co-champion Golden Bears are the No. 2 seed in the Spokane Regional, the program's highest-ever seeding. Cal goes into the tournament with a program-record 28 victories, including 17 league wins, also a team record. The regular-season title is Cal's first ever. Ranked sixth in the country, the Bears lead the Pac-12 and rank third in the nation in rebounding margin (+11.6). On the boards, the team is led by JR F Gennifer Brandon who ranks 16th in the country with 11.2 rpg. Teammate SR G Layshia Clarendon is the team's leading scorer at 15.6 ppg, and was even better in league play, contributing 17.6 ppg. Both Brandon and Clarendon are national player of the year candidates, as well as WBCA Regional All-America candidates. Head coach Lindsay Gottlieb was voted the Pac-12 Coach of the Year by a panel of media who cover the league. The Bears are making their ninth appearance in the NCAA Tournament and sixth in the last eight years.
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. CU is ranked in the top 25 in the AP poll for the 13th straight week, marking its longest run since appearing in all 19 polls of the 2003-04 season. Colorado earned a five seed in the Norfolk Regional and it will host the first and second rounds. The Buffs are in the postseason event for the first time since 2004. CU ranks 11th in the nation and second in the Pac-12 with a +9.1 rebounding margin. It also ranks 20th in field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to just 34.6 percent shooting. FR F Arielle Roberson was voted the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year by the league's coaches. Colorado is making its 13th appearance all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
FR F Jillian Alleyne was voted the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year by a panel of media that cover Pac-12 women's basketball. She has been among the best rebounders in the nation all season, ranking second in the league and seventh in the country with 11.9 rpg. Alleyne has recorded two of the top six rebounding performances in the NCAA this season, including grabbing a Pac-12 record 27 boards on Nov. 15, which is the most by an individual this season. The Ducks were the 12 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament and nearly pulled off a first-round upset, falling to Washington in the first round, 69-62. FR G Devyn Galland leads the Pac-12 and ranks 17th in the country in free throw percentage (87.5).
Oregon State leads the Pac-12 and ranks 11th in the country with 5.5 blocks per game. The Beavers ended their season as the 10th seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, losing in the first round. The team had to endure a season without senior starter Sage Indendi, who was injured prior to the start of the season. OSU had to rely heavily on underclassmen, including the team's leading scorer FR G Jamie Weisner. She was the team's leading scorer and rebounder at 12.5 ppg and 5.9 rpg, respectively. She was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week twice this season. Eight of OSU's Conference losses were decided by 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.
The Cardinal earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth-straight year. The top seed in the Spokane Regional, Stanford SO G Amber Orrange scored the go-ahead basket with seven seconds remaining in the game to claim its seventh consecutive Pac-12 Tournament title. Stanford, led by the Pac-12 Most Outstanding Player JR F Chiney Ogwumike, also claimed a share of the Pac-12 regular-season crown. Ogwumike was voted the Pac-12 Player of the Year by the league's media who cover women's basketball and by the league's coaches. It is the first time in her career she has received the award. She was also selected the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year for the second-straight year Ogwumike is a consensus national player of the year candidate, averaging league highs of 22.4 ppg and 13.1 rpg, which rank sixth and fourth in the nation, respectively. Her 26 double-doubles so far this season ties for first in the NCAA, as well. Stanford has limited its opponents to just 31.5 percent shooting, the best defense in the country. Additionally, Tara VanDerveer was voted the Pac-12 Coach of the Year by her Conference peers. Stanford remains at home for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament. It is making its 27th all-time appearance and 26th consecutive trip to the postseason event.
The Bruins upset second-seeded California in the semifinal of the Pac-12 Tournament and lost by just two points to tournament champion Stanford in the title game. UCLA trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half before orchestrating a big comeback to take a one-point lead into the locker room. However, the Bruins could not hold off the Cardinal in the end and fell by a score of 51-49. The Bruins held Stanford to its second-lowest scoring game of the season and nearly 20 points below its scoring average. UCLA has defeated five ranked opponents this year en route to earning the third seed in the Oklahoma City regional, equaling its best seed in the history of the program. UCLA was the No. 3 seed in 1998-99. UCLA finished third in the Pac-12 behind co-champions Stanford and California. It has defeated five teams ranked teams this season. UCLA ranks 23rd in rebounding margin (+7.1) and 17th in assists per game (16.3).
USC was the seventh seed in the Pac-12 Tournament and advanced to the quarterfinals with a win over Oregon State, 64-57. The Trojans have been led by JR F Cassie Harberts. This year, she averaged 18.0 ppg and 8.2 rpg, both tops on the team, after averaging just 11.9 ppg and 6.2 rpg in 2011-12. She is the Conference's third leading scorer this season and is seventh in rebounding. She closed the season averaging 20.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in two games at the Pac-12 Tournament. USC's 4-0 start to open the Pac-12 Conference slate marks its best start since the 2004-05 season. It ended the season winning three of its last four games.
Utah won seven of its last 10 regular season games to earn the No. 6 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, where it went 1-1 to advance to the quarterfinals. The Utes have posted 18 wins this season, besting last year's win total. Utah will participate in the postseason for the ninth-straight year, earning a second consecutive WNIT bid. Defensively, the Utes rank in the top third of the Conference in three-point field goal percentage defense (2nd, .270), scoring defense (3rd, 54.7), field goal percentage defense (4th, .364) and rebounding defense (3rd, 34.9). The Utes feature one of the best frontcourt tandems in the league in JR F Michelle Plouffe and JR F Taryn Wicijowski. Both players rank in the top eight in the league in scoring and in the top 15 in rebounding.
Washington earned the No. 5 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament after posting an 11-7 record in league play, the first time the team has posted double-digit league wins since 2006-07. Its 20 wins this season marks the second-straight 20-win campaign, the first time the Huskies have posted back-to-back 20-win seasons since 1993-94 and 1994-95. Washington will make a second-straight WNIT appearance. The team is led by SO G Jazmine Davis, who is averaging 19.4 ppg. She was named to the All-Pac-12 Tournament team after leading her squad to the quarterfinals. The Huskies are making 8.1 threes per game, the 10th-most in the NCAA this season. Their 11.9 turnover average is the sixth best in the country, while ranking 13th in turnover margin (+5.26). SO F Aminah Williams has been ranked among the top 25 rebounders in the country for most of the season. She heads into the postseason ranked 24th at 10.6 rpg.
After winning its first-ever Pac-12 Tournament game last year, advancing to the semifinals, the Cougars posted another victory in the postseason event. The tournament's eighth seed, WSU defeated Arizona State, 48-41, before falling to top-seeded Stanford, 79-60. Over the last two seasons, the Cougars own a 3-2 record in the Pac-12 Tournament. FR G Lia Galdeira leads the Pac-12 averaging 2.77 steals per game. As a team, the Cougars average 9.55 steals per game, which ranks third in the Conference. Galdeira ranks seventh in the Conference in scoring at 14.8 ppg and is the league'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.