This Week in Pac-10 Women's Basketball

Feb. 28, 2006

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2006 STATE FARM PAC-10 TOURNAMENT: The stage is set for the 2006 State Farm Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament, held March 3-6 at HP Pavilion at San Jose ... Capturing its sixth-consecutive Pac-10 title, STANFORD (21-6) finished with a 15-3 league record, earning its fifth No. 1 seed in as many Conference Tournaments ... ARIZONA STATE (23-5), riding a nine-game winning streak, enters the Pac-10 Tournament as the No. 2 seed, finishing the year with a 14-4 league record ... UCLA (17-10) heated up late in the Pac-10 race to win seven of its final nine games, ending the season with a 12-6 record to earn sole possession of third place and the No. 3 seed ... WASHINGTON (18-9) and USC (17-10) tied for fourth place with identical 11-7 Conference finishes ... The Huskies earned the No. 4 seed, while the Women of Troy picked up the No. 5 seed, via the tie-breaker (Washington splitting the season series with top-ranked Stanford, 1-1; USC going down 0-2 to the Cardinal) ... CALIFORNIA (18-10), picking up two wins in its final weekend of regular season play, opens the 2006 Tournament as the No. 6 seed, while OREGON STATE (14-13) is the No. 7 seed ... OREGON (14-14), ARIZONA (7-21) and WASHINGTON STATE (8-19) are eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively.

ARIZONA (7-21, 3-15): Ninth-seeded Arizona comes into the Tournament with a 7-21, 3-15 record ... UA has had plenty of success in San Jose's premier women's basketball tournament ... The team advanced to the championship finals in back-to-back seasons in 2003 and 2004 ... The Wildcats are led by a trio of hot-shooters from the outside in SR G Natalie Jones, JR G Joy Hollingsworth and SO G Ashley Whisonant ... Jones is averaging an even 15 points per game, good enough to rank eighth in the Conference ... The team as a whole ranks sixth in the league in scoring offense, putting up an average of 67.2 ppg ... The `Cats will face No. 8 seed Oregon on Fri., March 3 in the second game of first round action ... The two teams split the regular season series, as UA picked up an 81-72 overtime win on Sat., Jan. 14 at McKale Center ... Four players scored in double-digits in that contest, including Hollingsworth who shot 7-for-14 from the floor for 22 points, while pulling down seven rebounds ... Jones nearly picked up a double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing eight rebounds ... Despite shooting just 25.9 percent from the floor in the first half (7-of-27), Arizona rebounded in the second to put up 34 points on 14-of-32 shooting to force overtime ... UA has been plagued by numerous injuries this season, but have been helped by the return of FR F Amina Njonkou who logged 15 minutes against the Sun Devils on Sat., Feb. 25, picking up four points and four rebounds off the bench.

ARIZONA STATE (23-5, 14-4): No. 2 seed Arizona State comes into the Pac-10 Tournament with nine straight wins and certainly the deepest bench out of all 10 teams, which should give them fresh legs when needed most ... Finishing with a 14-4 Conference record, the Sun Devils earned sole possession of second place, as well as a 23-5 overall regular season finish ... ASU advanced to the championship finals of last year's tournament, only to get edged by Stanford, 56-42 ... Arizona State will face the winner of the Oregon State-Washington State game on Sat., March 4 at 1:15 p.m. ... It's hard to pin-point one leader on the ASU squad, but certainly SR F Kristen Kovesdy and JR F Emily Westerberg have made names for themselves throughout the league and nation ... Kovesdy paces the Pac-10 in field goal percentage, shooting at an impressive .595 clip (141-of-237) ... Westerberg is also solid near the basket, shooting 47.5 percent (106-of-223) to rank 10th in the league ... In a rotation that is virtually 11-players deep, head coach Charli Turner Thorne substitutes five-in and five-out, changing up the team on the floor throughout the game ... Arizona State ranks atop the league in rebounding margin, gathering six-plus boards more per game than its opponent ... The team also ranks first in rebounding defense (31.5) and assists (18.32) ... SO G Reagan Pariseau has been consistent at the point guard position, while JR G Jill Noe, despite being hampered by injuries much of her career, has returned to the court to average 8.3 ppg, good enough to rank third on the team.

CALIFORNIA (18-10, 10-8): Head coach Joanne Boyle came in determined to turn the Cal program around, and thus far, has held true to her word, guiding a young Golden Bear squad to a No. 6 seed in the Tournament, their highest ever ... Cal finishes the regular season with a 10-8 league record, 18-10 overall following last weekend's sweep of the Washington schools at Haas Pavilion ... FR F Ashley Walker tied for team-high honors in the wins over Washington and Washington State, giving the Bears their first weekend sweep since early January when they took two over the LA squads ... Walker scored 16 of her game-high 19 points in the first half against the Huskies, helping Cal break an 11-game losing streak to UW and securing its largest margin of victory ever over its Pac-10 rival (23 points) ... Walker is joined by fellow freshmen, G Alexis Gray-Lawson, G Jené Morris and C Devanei Hampton as the leaders of this fresh-faced squad ... Certainly one of the more athletic teams in the Conference, Cal ranks second in scoring defense, giving up just 59.1 ppg ... Hampton and Gray-Lawson rank seventh and 10th in the Conference in scoring with averages of 15.1 and 14.6 ppg, respectively ... Morris, who lit up Haas last Saturday for 10 points, including 3-of-5 from downtown, ranks third in the Pac-10 in steals, swiping 2.35 per game ... Cal will meet up with UCLA on Sat., March 4 in an 11 a.m. quarterfinal match-up ... The two teams split in regular season play.

OREGON (14-14, 5-13): No. 8 seed Oregon opens its 2006 Pac-10 Tournament run with a Fri., March 3 game against ninth-seeded Arizona ... The Ducks picked up a 64-50 win over Washington in the 2005 quarterfinals, before being edged in the semis by runner-up, Arizona State, 54-47 ... UO is led by a trio of dynamite seniors in G Brandi Davis, G Kedzie Gunderson and G Chelsea Wagner ... Wagner and Davis rank fourth and sixth on the Pac-10's list for 3-point field goal percentage, with marks of 42.7 and 38.5, respectively ... Wagner also ranks fourth in the league in 3-point field goals made, averaging 2.24 per contest ... The senior out of Springfield, Ore., hasn't been shy in unloading from downtown, tying the school's single-game individual record for threes, knocking down eight against Arizona on Thurs., Feb. 9 ... In that same contest, UO set a program record by cranking out 15 3-pointers ... It is virtually impossible to get hot against this stingy Oregon team, as it paces the Pac-10 in scoring defense, giving up just 58.6 ppg ... The team also leads the league in free throw percentage, shooting at a .753 clip ... The Ducks will be hoping for a similar situation to their 20-point rout of Arizona back in early February ... UO's height won out as it out-rebounded the Wildcats, 49-31, creating 18 second-chance points and 14 points in the paint.

OREGON STATE (14-13, 7-11): Oregon State earned the No. 7 seed after its home split with the LA schools last weekend, picking up a 67-64 win over USC on Sat., Feb. 25 ... The Beavers close out the 2005-06 regular season with a 14-13 overall record, which includes a 79-34 throttling of Texas-Pan American on Mon., Feb. 27, as well as a 7-11 Conference record ... Despite a very short bench and three players that rank in the Top-10 in the Conference in minutes played, OSU has made headway and is playing with confidence, having won three of its last five games ... The Beavers are led by SR G Mandy Close who is a renaissance woman, doing everything from leading the team at the point, serving as the team's top defender, all the while ranking second on the team in scoring with a 13.1 ppg average ... SR F Kim Butler ranks second in the Conference with a 19.1 ppg average ... Butler has been absolutely dominant in the paint, notching 14-straight double-digit performances ... The team will take on 10th-seeded Washington State on Fri., March 3 in the opening game of the 2006 Pac-10 Tournament ... The winner will face No. 2 seed Arizona State on Sat., March 4 at 1:15 p.m.

STANFORD (21-6, 15-3): Since the inception of the Pac-10 Tournament in 2002, Stanford has earned the No. 1 seed, and 2006 is no exception ... After finishing with a 15-3 league record, the Cardinal picked up the 2005-06 regular season championship and the top seed for the fifth-consecutive year ... Stanford, 21-6 overall, will play the winner of the Oregon-Arizona game on Sat., March 4 at 5 p.m. ... Leading the way for the Cardinal is All-American candidate SO G Candice Wiggins ... Wiggins continued her offensive dominance last weekend, averaging 25.5 points, four rebounds, three assists and 1.5 steals in two games ... Despite missing practice earlier in the week due to flu-like symptoms, Wiggins came out with a vengeance against the Huskies, scoring 29 points, shooting 70 percent from beyond the arc (7-of-10) and 61.5 percent from the floor (8-of-13) ... JR C Brooke Smith is sixth in the Conference with a 16.7 ppg average ... Smith also places at No. 6 on the rebounding charts, having a season average of 7.1 rpg ... The Cardinal have seen steady improvement from two freshmen who have been contributing more and more as the season has gone on ... F Jillian Harmon and G Rosalyn Gold-Onwude have made great strides in head coach Tara VanDerveer's system ... Gold-Onwude leads the league in assist/turnover ratio, as she has for much of the season, dishing out 3.7 assists for every 1.8 turnover, good enough for a 2.04 average ... Harmon ranks seventh in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage, hitting 49.8 percent of her shots (101-of-203) ... Stanford ranks atop the league in scoring offense (79.2 ppg) ... The team is also outscoring its opponents by 16+ points.

UCLA (17-10, 12-6): No. 3 seed UCLA won seven of its last nine games to earn its highest seed ever in the Pac-10 Tournament ... The Bruins finished the regular season with 12 Pac-10 wins, the third-most Conference victories in school history ... SR G Lisa Willis was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for Mon., Feb. 27, after she averaged a double-double of 20.5 points and 11 rebounds to guide the team to its first road sweep of the season ... Willis had a career-high 14 rebounds in the 66-65 win over Oregon on Sat., Feb. 25 and tied for the team lead in scoring with 17 points ... Against OSU, Willis led the team with 24 points and hit a key three-point play that she created with a steal, to give UCLA an 11-point lead from which the Beavers never recovered ... The Bruins went on to win, 72-59 ... SR G Nikki Blue had one steal at Oregon to gain sole possession of second place on the Pac-10 all-time steals list with 310, behind teammate Willis (349) ... UCLA ranks second in the Pac-10 in scoring offense, heating up the floor with a scorching 78.6 points per game average ... Willis, along with JR G Noelle Quinn rank fifth and third in the Conference at 17.4 and 18.3 ppg, respectively ... Quinn also ranks second in the league in rebounding, bringing down an average of 8.1 boards per game ... The Bruin are no stranger to Tournament success, having advanced to the semifinals in back-to-back years in 2003 and 2004 ... Last season, the team lost by two points (73-71) to runner-up, Arizona State in quarterfinal action ... UCLA will take on No. 6 seed California on Sat., March 4 at 11 a.m. ... The two teams split the series this season, as the Bruins picked up a 90-87 overtime win on Sun., Jan. 29 ... Offense and defense will go head-to-head in this matchup as Cal is giving up just 59.1 ppg.

USC (17-10, 11-7): After a road split at the Oregon schools last week, USC picked up the No. 5 seed and will face Washington in quarterfinal play, Sat., March 4 in San Jose ... Despite an injury bug that has plagued the Women of Troy throughout the season, the team finished in a tie for fourth place in the Conference with an 11-7 record, 17-10 overall ... The Trojans are led by the services of JR G Shay Murphy who ranks fourth in the Conference with a 17.6 scoring average ... Murphy also ranks fifth in the league with a 7.5 rebounding average, one of just three guards in the Top-10 ... The Van Nuys, Calif. native carried USC through both road games last weekend, extending her streak of double-digit scoring to 21 games, while scoring 21 points - just under half of the team's points - in the second half alone at Oregon to lead the Trojans to a 69-64 comeback win ... The very next night, Murphy scored a career-high 27 points on 10-of-21 shooting (47.6) from the field, while grabbing seven rebounds and three steals ... SO G Camille LeNoir has had two solid outings against the Huskies this season, averaging 19 points and 3.5 assists ... USC will have to take better care of the ball if it hopes to contain Washington ... The Women of Troy were forced into 29 turnovers in the Thurs., Feb. 9 game, as the Huskies created 25 points off those Trojan miscues ... The sharp-shooting USC team could get deadly from 3-point range as it ranks fourth in the league with a .333 clip from downtown ... Further, UW ranks just ninth in the Pac-10 in defending the three, as opponents are shooting - ironically - 33.3 percent from beyond the arc.

WASHINGTON (18-9, 11-7): Washington earned the No. 4 seed in the 2006 Pac-10 Tournament by virtue of a tie-breaker with USC, which it also happens to be playing in quarterfinal action on Sat., March 4 at 7:15 p.m. ... The Huskies, finishing the season with an 11-7 Conference record, 18-9 overall, garnered the No. 4 spot by splitting the season series with Pac-10 leader Stanford, 1-1 ... UW is looking to improve upon its last trip to the Bay Area, as the team got swept just last weekend at both Stanford and California ... The team is led by JR G Cameo Hicks who averages 14.7 ppg to rank ninth in the Pac-10 ... The Huskies are an offensively-driven team, ranking third in the Conference (71.2 ppg) and as of last week, 30th in the nation in scoring ... The team provides itself numerous opportunities off the offensive glass, ranking atop the league with almost 18 second-chance flings (17.7 orpg) ... The Huskies also rank second in the Conference in steals, averaging over 10 nabs per contest (10.26 spg) ... SR G Kristen O'Neill and Hicks rank ninth and 10th respectively, with averages of 1.67 and 1.65 steals per game ... Washington and USC split their season series, as the Huskies picked up the second meeting in Los Angeles, by a score of 87-79 in double overtime ... In fact, in the previous seven meetings of the two teams, USC holds just a slight 4-3 advantage ... In 2004, Washington earned a 77-55 win over the Trojans in quarterfinal action of the Pac-10 Tournament.

WASHINGTON STATE (8-19, 2-16): No. 10 seed Washington State will face seventh-seeded Oregon State in the opening round of the 2006 Pac-10 Tournament ... The Cougars will be looking to snap a four-game Tournament losing streak, having never advanced out of Friday's play-in game ... The Cougars are led by the services of JR F Kate Benz, the Feb. 20 Pac-10 Player of the Week ... Benz became the first Cougar since 1997 to garner the honor after she averaged a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds to pick up the split with the Oregon schools, notching a 68-53 win over the Ducks on Sat., Feb. 18 ... Benz ranks first in the league in rebounding, averaging 9.2 rpg ... The Cougars will also be looking for solid production down-low from SR F Keisha Moore who is averaging 11.6 points per contest, and 12.2 in Conference games only ... Head coach Sherri Murrell has had to rely on some of her younger players this season, due to numerous injuries ... Running the point for much of the time is FR G Katie Appleton, who along with FR G Amanda DuRocher, rank in the Top-10 in the Conference in 3-point field goals made ... DuRocher ranks seventh with a 1.85 average, while Appleton is right behind her at No. 8 and a 1.81 average ... In the last meeting between the Cougars and Beavers, WSU was led by Benz's double-double of 13 points, 10 rebounds, as well as Moore's 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the field.

2006 State Farm Pac-10 Tournament

Fri., Mar. 3Game 1: No. 7 Oregon State (7-11, 13-13) vs. No. 10 Washington State (2-16, 8-19), 6 p.m.Game 2: No. 8 Oregon (5-13, 14-14) vs. No. 9 Arizona (3-15, 7-21), 8:15 p.m.

Sat., Mar. 4Game 3: No. 3 UCLA (12-6, 17-10) vs. No. 6 California (10-8, 18-10), 11 a.m.Game 4: No. 2 Arizona State (14-4, 23-5) vs. Winner 7/10, 1:15 p.m.Game 5: No. 1 Stanford (15-3, 21-6) vs. Winner 8/9, 5 p.m.Game 6: No. 4 Washington (11-7, 18-9) vs. No. 5 USC (11-7, 17-10), 7:15 p.m.

Sun., Mar. 5Game 7: Game 3 win vs. Game 4 win, 3 p.m. (FSN)Game 8: Game 5 win vs. Game 6 win, 5:30 p.m. (FSN)

Mon., Mar. 6Game 9: Championship Game, 7:30 p.m. (FSN)