This year in Pac-12 women's basketball
By the Pac-12 Conference
California capped the season with an impressive NCAA Women's Final Four run. It was the Bears' first-ever trip and the sixth straight year a Pac-12 team has played in the national semifinal after STANFORD made five consecutive trips from 2008-12…For the first time since the 1980-81 season, four teams were in ranked in the final Associated Press poll ... Pac-12 teams saw tremendous success this year, with four teams advancing to the NCAA Tournament and two more earning WNIT bids. Utah fell by just three points in the WNIT finals ... Pac-12 players also earned postseason recognition after an outstanding season. Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike was a consensus All-American, while five others were tabbed honorable mention by the AP ... Throughout the season, five of the nation's top-25 rebounders were from the Pac-12. In all, nine teams occupied a spot in at least one statistical category in the final NCAA stats rankings ... Ogwumike was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, while Colorado's Arielle Roberson was tabbed the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. Stanford's Tara VanDerveer was voted the Pac-12 Coach of the Year by her league colleagues ... Three from the Pac-12 were selected in the WNBA Draft, with Cal's Layshia Clarendon being picked in the first round. Arizona's Davellyn Whyte and the Buff's Chucky Jeffery were picked in the second round.
NCAA TOURNAMENT RESULTS
Saturday, March 23 • First Round (Lubbock, Texas)
#2 CALIFORNIA vs. #15 Fresno State…….CAL, 90-76
#7 Texas Tech vs. #15 South Florida……USF, 71-70
Monday, March 25 • Second Round (Lubbock, Texas)
CALIFORNIA vs. South Florida…….CAL, 82-78 (OT)
Sunday, March 24 • First Round (Stanford, Calif.)
#1 STANFORD vs. #16 Tulsa……..STAN, 72-56
#8 Michigan vs. #9 Villanova…….MICH, 60-52
Tuesday, March 26 • Second Round (Stanford, Calif.)
STANFORD vs. Michigan……..STAN, 73-40
Saturday, March 30 • Sweet Sixteen (Spokane, Wash.)
STANFORD vs. #4 Georgia…….UGA, 61-59
CALIFORNIA vs. #6 LSU…….CAL, 73-63
Monday, April 1 • Elite Eight (Spokane, Wash.)
CALIFORNIA vs. Georgia…….CAL, 65-62 (OT)
Sunday, April 7 • Final Four (New Orleans, La.)
CALIFORNIA vs. #5 Louisville…LOU, 64-57
Saturday, March 23 • First Round (Boulder, Colo.)
#5 COLORADO vs. #12 Kansas…….KAN, 67-52
OKLAHOMA CITY REGIONAL
Saturday, March 23 • First Round (Columbus, Ohio)
#6 Oklahoma vs. #11 Central Michigan…….OKLA, 78-73
#3 UCLA vs. #14 Stetson…….UCLA, 66-49
Monday, March 25 • Second Round (Columbus, Ohio)
UCLA vs. Oklahoma…….OKLA, 85-72
UTAH at Long Beach State…….UTAH, 56-49
Eastern Washington at WASHINGTON…….WASH, 65-60 (OT)
San Diego at UTAH …….UTAH, 61-50
Pacific at WASHINGTON…….UP, 85-78
March 28 • UTAH at Pacific…….UTAH, 60-55 (OT)
April 3 • UTAH at Kansas Stat…….UTAH, 54-46
Saturday, April 6 • Championship Game
UTAH at Drexel…….DU, 46-43
The Wildcats were the 11th seed in the Pac-12 Tournament tying 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 had not averaged fewer than 15.7 ppg in her career. She ranked in the top five in the Pac-12 in scoring (5th), assists (2nd, 5.17 apg) and steals (3rd, 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). Whyte was selected in the second round of the WNBA Draft by the San Antonio Silver Stars.
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 appearances, 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 their top three scorers from this season.
Cal had a season for the record books that culminated in the program's first-ever trip to the NCAA Final Four in New Orleans. The second seed in the Spokane Region, the Golden Bears won the regional in their first-ever trip to the Elite Eight. Their seeding was the highest in the history of the program. Capturing a share of the team's first-ever Pac-12 regular-season title, Cal rewrote the record book for overall wins (32) and league wins (17). The 30-win season was also a record for the program. SR G Layshia Clarendon was selected in the first round of the WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever. She was the Spokane Region Most Outstanding Player, an All-Pac-12 pick and Senior CLASS All-American. The Bears eaned a No. 5 national ranking in the final USA Today Coaches poll of the year. They led the Pac-12 and rank third in the nation in rebounding margin (+11.4). On the boards, the team was led by JR F Gennifer Brandon who ranked 16th in the country with 11.1 rpg. Clarendon was the team's leading scorer at 16.4 ppg and was even better in league play, contributing 17.6 ppg. Both Brandon and Clarendon were national player of the year candidates and were named honorable mention All-Americans by the Associated Press. Head coach Lindsay Gottlieb was voted the Pac-12 Coach of the Year by a panel of media who cover the league and was a finalist for the Naismith National Coach of the Year Award. It was the Bears' ninth appearance in the NCAA Tournament and sixth in the last eight years.
The Buffaloes earned the No. 5 seed in the Norfolk Regional of the NCAA Tournament bid, the team's first NCAA bid since 2004 and 13th appearance all-time. Colorado played host to the first and second rounds, but fell to Kansas in the opening game. Colorado was picked to finish ninth in the preseason Pac-12 Coaches Poll but locked up the fourth seed in the Pac-12 Tournament after posting 13 league wins, more than doubling its Conference win total from last season (6). Six of Colorado's seven losses have come against ranked opponents. CU was ranked in the top 25 in the AP poll for 13-consecutive weeks, marking its longest run since appearing in all 19 polls of the 2003-04 season. CU ranked 11th in the nation and second in the Pac-12 with an +8.8 rebounding margin. It also ranked 23rd in field goal percentage defense, having limited opponents to just 35.0 percent shooting. FR F Arielle Roberson was voted the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year by the league's coaches. A honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press and WBCA, SR G Chucky Jeffery earned national player of the week honors on Dec. 17 by ESPNW.com and USBWA. She led the team in scoring (13.7), rebounding (8.2), assists (123), steals (67) and double-doubles (10). Jeffery was selected in the second round of the WNBA Draft by Minnesota.
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 led the Pac-12 and ranked 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 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. Defensively, OSU ranked 16th in the NCAA with a 34.6 defensive field goal percentage.
The Cardinal earned the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth-straight year after earning a share of the regular-season Pac-12 crown and clinching the Pac-12 Tournament title. Stanford's JR F Chiney Owgumike earned a bevy of honors and was a finalist for all three major national player of the year honors. She was also named an All-American by the Associated Press, USBWA and WBCA after averaging Conference highs of 22.4 ppg and 12.9 rpg, ranking seventh and fifth in the nation in each of the categories, respectively. She was also named to the John R. Wooden and Naismith All-America teams. She was the nation's leader with 28 double-doubles, while her 58.6 percent shooting from the floor was the fourth-best in the country. Ogwumike was voted the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year by the league's coaches and media. While leading the squad to a seventh-consecutive Conference tournament title, she was named the Pac-12 Tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Hall of Fame head coach Tara VanDerveer was voted the Pac-12 Coach of the Year by her Conference peers. She was also a finalist for the WBCA's National Coach of the Year. Stanford ended the season with the best defensive shooting percentage (31.6) and the best defensive 3-point shooting percentage (23.5) in the country. It ranked in the top 25 in 11 NCAA statistical categories, altogether. Making its 27th all-time appearance and 26th-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Cardinal's Sweet Sixteen appearance was its sixth-straight.
The Bruins made a return to the NCAA Tournament after earning back-to-back bids in 2010 and 2011. UCLA bounced back from a 14-16, 9-9 campaign to post a 26-8 overall record and 14-14 league mark. It earned the No. 3 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament and upset second-seeded California to reach the championship game, losing by just two points in the finale. UCLA was awarded a No. 3 seed, traveling to Columbus, Ohio. The Bruins defeated Stetson in the NCAA opener, but fell to Oklahoma in the second round. UCLA 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 ranked 20th in rebounding margin (+7.2) and 16th in assists per game (16.4). RS-JR F Atonye Nyingifa led the team in scoring this season at 11.6 ppg and was third in rebounding at 7.1 rpg. A first time All-Pac-12 honoree, she bounced back from a season-ending injury she suffered early in 2011-12. With the Bruins suffering injuries throughout the year, Nyingifa started the most number of games of anyone on the team at 29. The Bruins saw major improvements from the floor, shooting at a 42.2 percent clip this season, compared to 39.2 last year. UCLA saw improvement from the 3-point arc, as well, shooting 30.4 percent after shooting just 29.0 percent last year. Walker was named honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press.
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 was the Conference's third leading scorer this season, and was 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. Legendary Trojan Cynthia Cooper-Dyke returned to her alma mater and was named head coach beginning the 2013-14 campaign.
Utah advanced to the WNIT Championship game, falling by just three points Drexel in Philadelphia. The Utes, who advanced to the final game for the first time in program history, played five of their six WNIT games on the road. Utah made its ninth-straight postseason appearance and bested its record from a year ago. 2012-13 marked the fourth time in six years Utah has won 20 games, and the first under third-year head coach Anthony Levrets. The defensive-minded Utes were tough to score on this season, with opponents averaging just 54.0 ppg, 1.8 points per game better than last year (55.8). 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. Utah led the Pac-12 and ranked 21st in the nation in three-point field goal percentage, shooting 35.3 percent from long range. Defensively, they ranked in the top third of the Conference in 3-point field goal percentage defense (2nd, .262), scoring defense (2nd, 54.0), field goal percentage defense (4th, .356) and rebounding defense (3rd, 34.5). The Utes feature one of the best frontcourt tandems in the league in JR F Michelle Plouffe and JR F Taryn Wicijowski. Both players ranked in the top eight in the league in scoring and in the top 10 in rebounding. Wicijowski ranks 21st in the country in field goal percentage (52.3). Plouffe was named honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press.
The Huskies ended their season with a second-round trip to the WNIT, posting a 21-12 overall record, the most wins for the program since 2002-03. 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 marked 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. The team was led by All-Pac-12 honoree SO G Jazmine Davis, who averaged 19.3 ppg. She was named to the All-Pac-12 Tournament team after leading her squad to the quarterfinals. The Huskies averaged 7.9 threes per game to rank 13th in the NCAA this season. Their 11.9 turnover average is the seventh-best in the country, while ranking 12th in turnover margin (+5.36). SO F Aminah Williams was ranked among the top 25 rebounders in the country for most of the season, ranking 21st with 10.8 rebounding average.
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 led 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 ranked seventh in the Conference in scoring at 14.8 ppg and was 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.