Women's basketball teams head to Pac-12 tournament in Seattle
All league teams are heading to the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament in Seattle. The first round tips off on Thursday, March 6 with the 2014 champion being crown on Sunday, March 9 ... Once again, the Pac-12 Tournament will receive unmatched coverage on the Pac-12 Networks and ESPN, with 10 games broadcast live on the Conference’s networks and the championship game live on ESPN. Pac-12 Networks’ comprehensive coverage will include Anne Marie Anderson, Tammy Blackburn, Krista Blunk, Mary Murphy and Jill Savage on location in Seattle, plus host Ashley Adamson and analysts Ros Gold-Onwude and Ann Schatz from Pac-12 Networks’ San Francisco studios. Former Stanford All-American Nneka Ogwumike will make her Pac-12 Networks broadcast debut, joining Adamson and Gold-Onwude during the tournament semifinals. ESPN’s broadcast team for the final will be Roxy Bernstein and Mary Murphy.
STANFORD claimed the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament after locking up its 14th-consecutive regular-season crown. No. 20 CALIFORNIA is the No. 2 seed, while OREGON STATE is the No. 3 seed, its best-ever seeding in the tournament. OSU tied for second in the league standings, its best showing since 1995-96. ARIZONA STATE is the No. 4 seed, after it was picked to finish 10th by the coaches in the preseason poll. All four teams earn a first-round bye.
The league’s 12 coaches selected STANFORD’s Chiney Ogwumike the Pac-12 Player of the Year for the second year in a row and the Defensive Player of the Year for the third-straight year. WASHINGTON’s Kelsey Plum was voted the Freshman of the Year, the second time in three years a Husky has won the award. STANFORD’s Hall of Fame head coach Tara VanDerveer was voted the Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the fourth-straight year. The All-Pac-12, All-Defensive Team and All-Freshman Team was also announced and can be found on page 6. Of note is WASHINGTON STATE’s Lia Galdeira and Tia Presley earned spots on the team, the first Cougs to earn the honor since 1999.
Tickets for the tournament are still available at www.pac-12.com/tickets. 2013 Pac-12 Tournament posted the second-largest crowd in the history of the event. Fans are urged to secure their tickets early to get the best seats.
ARIZONA (5-24, 1-17)
After ending the regular season on a pair of road losses, UA is the 12 seed in the Pac-12 Tourament ... 13 of its losses this year have been by 10 points or less, including nine of its 17 Pac-12 setbacks ... The Wildcats’ Conference win came against in-state rival Arizona State ... RS JR guard Candice Warthen is back for the Wildcats this season after sitting out all of last season due to injury. During the regular season she led the Wildcats in scoring (11.2) and steals (1.3) ... UA has been without SR F Alli Gloyd because of a season-ending injury suffered at the start of the 2013-14 campaign. She was one of only two Wildcats to start every game last year ... Seven different Wildcats have been the leading scorer in a game this season.
ARIZONA STATE (22-8, 11-7)
The Sun Devils struggled over the last month of Conference play, losing five of seven to fall to the No. 4 seed in the tournament ... ASU ranked as high as No. 11 in the Associated Press poll on Dec. 17. It was their highest ranking since Dec. 21, 2009 ... ASU has more wins and more Pac-12 wins than all of last season ... ASU’s 11-1 start to the season was the team’s best since 1986-87, including wins over ranked teams - No. 11 North Carolina and No. 20 Syracuse ... ASU has vastly improved its scoring this season, averaging 11.5 ppg better than a year ago. Among the team’s reasons for the improvement is the team’s shooting percentage. The Sun Devils shot just 38.6 percent last year and are shooting at a 41.8 percent clip ... ASU’s success can also be attributed to its balanced scoring, as seven players are averaging at least 7.0 ppg. RS-SR G Deja Mann leads the way with 11.1 ppg after missing all of last season because of injury ... 13 of ASU’s wins have come when it was either trailing or ahead by only one point at some point in the last five minutes of regulation.
CALIFORNIA (21-8, 13-5)
Cal won eight in a row to secure second-place in the regular season standings and clinch a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament ... Five of Cal’s eight losses have been to ranked opponents, including four against opponents ranked in the top five at the time of the meeting ... JR F Reshanda Gray, a first-time All-Pac-12 honoree, has been a tremendous force for the Bears averaging a team-best 17.3 ppg and 9.1 rpg, nearly doubling her scoring average from last year and 3.0 rpg better than last year. She scored a Pac-12 season-high 43 points in an overtime win against WSU on the last weekend of Pac-12 play ... After missing 10 games, RS SR F Gennifer Brandon has recorded six double-doubles, inlcuding a 20-rebound performance against WSU ... JR G Brittany Boyd, who was named a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award, is leading the Pac-12 with 5.9 apg and 2.9 steals per game, while scoring 14.7 ppg. In the win over WSU, she recorded the second triple-double in Cal program history and 18th overall in Pac-10/12 history.
COLORADO (16-13, 6-12)
The Buffs open Pac-12 Tournament play as the nine seed and face UCLA ... After starting the season 9-0, the Buffs struggled to maintain consistency with 12 of their 13 losses coming by 10 points or less, four of those losses coming by three points or less. Among the close losses was a seven-point setback at Louisville, and a 10-point decision to Stanford ... The Buffs have three players averaging double-digit scoring with 2013 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Arielle Roberson leading the way at 12.4 ppg and 8.1 rpg, both team-bests ... JR F Jen Reese is having a career-year, averaging 12.0 ppg and 5.8 rpg, which is good for second on the team in both categories ... The Buffs have won their opening game of the Conference tournament their first two years.
OREGON (15-14, 6-12)
The nation’s leading rebounder, SO Jillian Alleyne is averaging 15.7 rpg, which is also on pace for breaking the Conference’s single-season mark ... The Ducks continue to lead the nation in scoring at 93.3 points per game ... UO tripled its Conference win total and overall win total from a year ago ... The No. 10 seed, UO is looking for its first tournament win since 2008 ... Oregon has improved its scoring by more than 33.0 ppg from last year, reaching triple digits nine times and tallying at least 90 points 14 times ... UO opened 2013-14 scoring 131 points to shatter the Pac-12 single-game scoring mark ... FR G Chrishae Rowe is the top-scoring freshman in the country, leading the team and ranking 18th in the nation at 21.7 ppg. She scored a career-high 41 points in a win on Dec. 4.
OREGON STATE (21-9, 13-5)
The Beavers tied for second in the league and earn their highest-ever seed in the Pac-12 Tournament at No. 3 after winning nine in a row and 11 of their last 12 after opening the Pac-12 season 2-4. The second place in the league is the team’s best showing since 1995-96 ... Their 13 league wins is the most-ever in program history while their 21 overall doubled the total from a year ago ... OSU has posted seven wins of 10-points or less, with three of those coming by five or less points ... OSU is eighth in the country in blocks (6.0 bpg), led by Ruth Hamblin’s 3.83 bpg, which ranks fourth in the nation. She recorded a school-record nine blocks against No. 2 Notre Dame. She also recorded the 17th triple-double in Pac-12/10 history in the home win over the Ducks and is the first-ever to accomplish the feat with 10 blocks ... OSU turned up the offensive pressure this year, averaging 72.0 ppg as compared to 57.3 ppg a season ago, but still emphasizing defense as they have Limited opponents to just 35.4 field goal percentage, which is second in the Pac-12 ... SO G Jamie Weisner is building on a stellar freshman campaign, leading the team in scoring again at 13.8 ppg. She is receiving help from freshman Sydney Weise, who is netting 13.6 ppg and ranks ninth in the country at 44.1 3-point field goal percentage ... Hamblin need four blocks to tie the Pac-12 single-season record.
STANFORD (28-2, 17-1)
Third-ranked Stanford clinched the Pac-12 regular-season title, marking the 14th-straight season the Cardinal have won or shared the title ... Stanford has only two losses all season, one in Conference and the other to defending NCAA Champion Connecticut ... Stanford SR forward Chiney Ogwumike was voted the Pac-12 Player of the Year for the second-straight year and the Defensive Player of the Year for the third-straight season. The CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year and consensus national player of the year candidate, she is leading the Pac-12 in scoring (27.0), while ranking third in the country. Her 12.1 rpg are eighth in the nation and she is third in the country in field goal percentage at 62.2. She is the only player in the country to rank in the top-10 in all three categories. Ogwumike became the Pac-12’s all-time leading rebounder and is within s49 points of tying the all-time scoring record. She was voted Pac-12 Player of the Week for a record nine times this season ... Hall of fame head coach Tara VanDerveer posted her 900th-career victory earlier this season, becoming only the fifth women’s basketball coach in NCAA women’s basketball history to reach the threshold. She was voted the Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the 14th time.
UCLA (13-17, 7-11)
The Bruins finished the regular season 7-11 in Pac-12 play to earn the No. 8 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament ... Nine of UCLA’s Conference games have been decided by six points or less ... UCLA has had to contend with a slim roster because of injuries, but have been more than competitive, with 10 of its setbacks coming by 10 points or less. Despite the slim roster, the Bruins posted a notable win over Oklahoma, who was ranked No. 10 at the time of the meeting ... SR F Atonye Nyingifa, a two-time All-Pac-12 pick, leads the team with 18.4 ppg and 8.7 rpg ... G Nirra Fields is contributing 17.4 ppg and 6.3 rpg in her sophomore campaign, en route to earning All-Pac-12 honors.
USC (18-12, 11-7)
USC finished with more overall wins and Pac-12 wins than a year ago, ending the regular season fifth in the standings ... The Trojans posted an upset of then-No. 12 Colorado for their first win over a ranked opponent since 2011 and also had a big upset at No. 23/22 California ... Six of the team’s seven league losses have been by 10 points or less ... USC opened the 2013-14 with a 3-0 start, the team’s best since 1998-99 ... USC is under the direction of first-year head coach, legendary basketball player and USC alumni Cynthia Cooper ... JR G Ariya Crook and SR F Cassie Harberts are the team’s scoring leaders, averaging 15.8 and 16.2 ppg, respectively, while Harberts is grabbing a team-best 7.5 rpg. In league play, Harberts is contributing 17.3 ppg and 7.8 rpg ... Harberts was named to the All-Pac-12 team for the second year in a row.
UTAH (11-18, 4-14)
After winning three of four games from Jan. 19-Jan. 29, the Utes dropped eigth of their next nine to finish 11th in the Conference ... Utah went undefeated in the month of December, which included a double-overtime win over BYU in Provo ... 2013 All-Pac-12 performer Taryn Wicijowski is out for the season because of an injury ... Two of the five games during the December stretch were without All-Pac-12 performer and the team’s leading scorer and rebounder Michelle Plouffe. Plouffe is tallying 18.3 ppg and 10.4 rpg. She was named to the all-Conference team for the second time and earned a spot on the All-Defensive team ... FR F Emily Potter is one of two players scoring in double figures, contributing 10.4 ppg and is the team’s second-leading rebounder at 6.5 rpg.
WASHINGTON (17-12, 10-8)
Kelsey Plum was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. The second-highest scoring freshman in the nation and ranked in the top-five in the Pac-12, she is the second Husky in three years to earn the honor ... The Huskies ended the regular season on a high note, upsetting No. 20/22 California ... The sixth-seed in the tournament, UW faces Utah in the first round ... UW picked up one of their biggest wins in program history when they upset then-No.3 Stanford for their first win over a top-5 ranked team since 1990 ... UW is peaking at the right time, winning seven of its last 10 ... Washington has three players averaging double digits with Plum leading the way with 20.9 ppg, followed by JR PG Jazmine Davis at 19.2 - both in the top five in the Pac-12. Davis was named to the All-Pac-12 teams ... Washington is under the direction of first-time head coach Mike Neighbors who was an assistant coach last season.
WASHINGTON STATE (15-15, 9-9)
The Cougs finished .500 in league play for the first time since 1994-95, earning the No. 7 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament ... WSU opened the Pac-12 slate with a 5-0 record, their best-ever start in Pac-12/10 play in program history ... WSU’s 15 wins and nine Pac-12 wins are the most since the 1995-96 campaign ... WSU posted signature wins over then-No. 10 Nebraska, and then-top-25 foes Arizona State and Colorado at home ... WSU’s 82-80 win over the Huskies on January 7 was its first since 1995, snapping a 36-game losing streak to UW. The Cougs then got their first win in Seattle since 1993 later that week ... WSU has shown significant improvement in its scoring, averaging 73.0 ppg after averaging just 59.4 ppg all season last year ... SO G Lia Galdeira and JR G Tia Presley were named to the All-Pac-12 team, the first time a Coug has earned the honor since 1999 ... After going winless the first 10 years of the Conference tournament, WSU has posted a 3-2 record over the last two years.