This Week in Pac-10 Women's Basketball
March 15, 2006
CONFERENCE NOTES (3/15)
SIX TEAMS SENT TO NCAA's: For the first time in Pac-10 history, six teams qualified for NCAA postseason Tournament play, as five at-large berths were announced on ESPN on Mon., March 13 ... UCLA, by virtue of winning the 2006 State Farm Pac-10 Tournament, represents the Conference as the automatic qualifier with a 20-10 overall record ... The Bruins earned a No. 5 seed ... Selected as the highest Pac-10 seed, STANFORD (23-7), picked up the No. 3 regional spot, heading into the San Antonio portion of the bracket ... ARIZONA STATE (24-6) garnered a No. 4 seed, while Conference semifinalist, USC (18-11), picked up a No. 8 seed ... Thought to be on the bubble by many critics, both WASHINGTON (18-10) and CALIFORNIA (18-11) silenced doubters with their respective berths into the NCAA's ... The Huskies are a No. 9 seed in the San Antonio bracket, while the Golden Bears are a No. 10 in the Albuquerque Regional.
PAC-10 MAKES HISTORY: Never before has the Pac-10 sent six squads into NCAA Tournament action, as the Top 1-6 league finishers were granted berths on the NCAA's Selection Monday ... The Conference has sent five teams six times, and most recently as last season ... This year, Pac-10 teams finished with a non-conference record of 67-27 (.713), the best mark since 1991-92 when all 10 teams combined for a 75-24 (.758) record ... Only the ACC (7) and Big East (7) are sending more teams to the 2006 Tournament ... The SEC is also sending six.
OREGON STATE PREPARES FOR WNIT: OREGON STATE (15-14), playing spectacular basketball as of late, earned a berth into the 2006 Women's National Invitation Tournament and will play host to Santa Clara on Thurs., March 16 at Gill Coliseum ... The regular season WCC conference champions lead the nation in 3-point field goals per game, hitting nearly nine per outing ... Oregon State has made six appearances in the WNIT (1980, 1982, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004), winning the National Championship in the 1980 and 1982 trips ... OSU also reached the quarterfinal round of the tournament in 2004.
2006 STATE FARM PAC-10 TOURNAMENT WRAP-UP: As was to be expected, the level of competition at this year's Pac-10 Tournament was the best it's been in the five-year history of the event ... In Friday's first round action, the seventh-seeded Beavers proved they were no fluke, defeating the 10th-seeded Washington State Cougars, 77-38 ... Later that evening, No. 9 Arizona upset eighth-seeded Oregon, 64-57 ... In Saturday morning early action, No. 3 UCLA took care of No. 6 California, 80-63, followed up with a 74-66 Arizona State win over Oregon State ... In the later portion of Saturday's quarterfinal rounds, Stanford defeated the Wildcats, 77-50 and USC edged Washington, 70-67 ... Sunday's semifinal rounds featured offensive powerhouses as four of the Top-5 scoring teams in the Conference went head-to-head ... In the first game of the day, UCLA barely got past the Sun Devils, scoring 60 to ASU's 59 ... Stanford was in mint condition as it easily handed USC a 73-44 loss ... Monday night's championship game, featuring five legitimate All-American candidates, was high-octane as only overtime finally decided the outcome - UCLA 85, Stanford 76 ... The game was not only the first overtime contest in the five-year history of the Tournament, but it also marked the first time since 2002 that a team other than the Cardinal took home the crown and the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
2006 STATE FARM PAC-10 ALL-TOURNAMENT HONORS: UCLA SR G Lisa Willis was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament, while the following were named to the All-Tournament Team: SR G Nikki Blue, UCLA; JR G Noelle Quinn, UCLA; SR C Kristin Kovesdy, ASU; JR C Brooke Smith, STAN and SO G Candice Wiggins, STAN.
TEAM-BY-TEAM NOTES (3/15)
ARIZONA STATE (24-6, 14-4): Arizona State earned an at-large berth and a No. 4 seed in the 2006 NCAA Tournament, ESPN announced Mon., March 13 on its selection show ... The Sun Devils are coming off the heels of a Pac-10 Tournament semifinal showdown with eventual champion, UCLA, in which ASU was bested, 60-59 on Sun., March 5 ... Arizona State is scheduled to play No. 13 seed Stephen F. Austin in first round action in Tucson, Ariz. on Sat., March 19 at 1:30 p.m. CT/11:30 a.m. PT ... The Arizona State-Stephen F. Austin winner will face either No. 5 seed Utah or No. 12 seed Middle Tennessee on Mon., March 20 at McKale Center ... Head coach Charli Turner Thorne, who is making her fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament at the helm of the Sun Devil program, was named the Russell Athletic/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Region 8 Coach of the Year on Tuesday ... Turner Thorne led the Sun Devils to a regular season record of 24-6, including a school record 14 Pac-10 victories ... She guided her team to the Sweet 16 in last year's tourney run and has a good chance to advance just as far this season ... The Sun Devils go deep into their bench for production from a variety of different individuals ... All-Pac-10 selections SR C Kristin Kovesdy and JR F Emily Westerberg lead the way for the strong ASU team ... The duo pace the team at No. 1 and 2, with scoring averages of 12.5 ppg and 11.0 ppg, respectively ... Expect to see contributions from all of the following on any given night: SO G Reagan Pariseau, FR G Danielle Orsillo, FR G Briann January, JR G Jill Noe, FR C Kristen Thompson, JR F Aubree Johnson and SR F Amy Denson, among others ... Arizona State paces the Conference in rebounding defense (31.4), rebounding margin (+6.3) and assists (18.23).
CALIFORNIA (18-11, 10-8): For the first time in 13 years, the California women's basketball program heard its name called as ESPN rolled out the NCAA selections on Mon., March 13 ... As the No. 10 seed, the Bears will take on seventh-seeded St. John's in the first round, Sun., March 19 at 12 Noon ET/9 a.m. PT in University Park, Pa. ...The Bears, who own their first winning record at 18-11 since 1992-93, will be making their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance and first since advancing to the second round in 1993 ... That season, Cal defeated Kansas in the first round, 62-47, before losing to Vanderbilt, 82-63, in the second round ... The Tournament berth is the second in head coach Joanne Boyle's four-year coaching career ... Her 2004-05 Richmond squad made a first round appearance, after finishing fourth in the Atlantic 10 conference ... The California-St. John's winner will play the winner of the No. 2 Maryland-No. 15 Sacred Heart game on Tues., March 21 ... The Bears head into the Tournament with the second-ranked scoring defense in the league, giving up just 59.8 ppg ... As has been the case all year, the team will rely on its gritty defense, as well as its young talent, to propel them through the postseason ... The Bears are lead by a quartet of fresh superstars in Pac-10 Freshman of the Year G Alexis Gray-Lawson, All-Pac-10 member C Devanei Hampton, All-Freshman selection F Ashley Walker and freshman honorable mention, G Jené Morris ... Hampton and Gray-Lawson rank seventh and ninth in the Conference in scoring with averages of 15.4 ppg and 14.5 ppg, respectively.
OREGON STATE (15-14, 7-11): Oregon State, with a record of 15-14 overall, accepted a postseason berth into the WNIT for the first time since the 2004 season ... The Beavers have made six appearances in the WNIT (1980, 1982, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004), winning the National Championship in the 1980 and 1982 trips ... OSU has won three of its last four games, including its opening game in the 2006 Pac-10 Tournament against Washington State (77-38) and is playing with a tremendous amount of confidence heading into postseason action ... The Beavers, under first-year head coach LaVonda Wagner, finished the season one game above .500, which was a nine-game improvement over last year's 6-23 mark ... The team will host WCC regular season conference champion, Santa Clara on Thurs., March 16 at Gill Coliseum in preliminary play ... The Broncos lead the nation in 3-point field goals made, averaging just under nine per game ... In comparison, Oregon State leads the Conference in 3-point field goal percentage defense, as opponents are hitting at just a .285 clip (127-of-445) ... SR G Mandy Close and JR G Casey Nash both had back-to-back double-digit performances in the Pac-10 Tournament ... Close averaged 16.5 ppg, while Nash averaged 14.0 ppg ... The Oregon State-Santa Clara winner will take to the road to face the University of Wyoming in first round action on Sat., March 18.
STANFORD (23-7, 15-3): Stanford garnered the No. 3 seed in the San Antonio Regional, following its regular season performance, which included a 23-7 overall record and a Pac-10 Tournament championship finals appearance just two weeks ago ... The Cardinal will take on No. 14 seed Southeast Missouri State on Sat., March 18 at 8:30 p.m. MT/6:30 p.m PT at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo. ... The contest marks the first meeting ever between the two teams ... The Stanford-SE Missouri State winner will take on the winner of the No. 6 seed Florida State-No. 11 seed Louisiana Tech game on Mon., March 20 ... Stanford is 43-17 all-time in NCAA Tournament action and is making its 19th consecutive appearance and 20th overall ... The Cardinal advanced to the Elite Eight in each of the last two seasons ... The Stanford program has won two National Championships, and advanced to six Final Fours, 10 Elite Eights and 13 Sweet 16's ... The Cardinal are led by SO G Candice Wiggins and JR C Brooke Smith ... The duo rank first and sixth in the Conference in scoring with averages of 21.2 ppg and 16.6 ppg, respectively ... Smith needs just one more point this season to break the 500-point plateau ... If she does, it will be just the fifth time that Stanford has had two players score 500 or more points in the same season, and the first time since 2001-02 when Nicole Powell scored 581 points and Lindsey Yamasaki added 551 ... Wiggins currently has 636 points this season ... Stanford paces the Conference in scoring offense, averaging 78.8 points per contest, while ranking fifth in scoring defense, giving up just an average of 62.9 points per game.
UCLA (20-10, 12-6): 2006 State Farm Pac-10 Tournament Champion UCLA earned the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament following its 85-76 upset of Stanford in overtime of the championship finals on Mon., March 6 in San Jose, Calif. ... Propelled by 22 points from JR G Noelle Quinn and 20 points from the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player, SR G Lisa Willis, the Bruins took home their first-ever Pac-10 Tournament crown ... UCLA, the No. 3 seed in the Conference Tournament, swept past California and Arizona State to meet up with the Cardinal in Monday night's title game ... Earning the No. 5 seed in the Cleveland Regional, UCLA, having won eight of its last nine games, will face 12th-seeded Bowling Green on Sun., March 19 at 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT in West Lafayette, Ind. ... The UCLA-Bowling Green winner will advance to the second round to take on either No. 4 seed Purdue or No. 13 Missouri State on Tues., March 21 at Mackey Arena ... UCLA enters the NCAA Tournament for the first time since a 2004 tourney appearance, when it lost at Minnesota in the first round ... Five of the current members of the Bruin team played in the 2004 NCAA Tournament contest against Minnesota ... SR G Nikki Blue scored 33 points in that game to set a school record for most points in an NCAA Tournament game ... Willis and Quinn each scored 15 points, while JR F Amanda Livingston and SR G Ortal Oren also played in the game ... UCLA's All-American backcourt in Blue, Quinn and Willis have picked up their game as of late ... Both Quinn and Willis rank third and fourth in the Conference in scoring with averages of 18.3 ppg and 17.7 ppg, respectively.
USC (18-11, 11-7): USC earned its second NCAA postseaon Tournament berth in as many years when it was announced as a No. 8 seed in the Bridgeport Regional portion of the bracket on Selection Monday ... The Women of Troy finished the 2005-06 regular season with an 18-11 overall record, following their advancement to the Pac-10 semifinals on Sun., March 5 ... The Trojans will face No. 9 South Florida on Sun., March 19 at Old Dominion's Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va. ... The winner of that first-round matchup will face either top-seeded Duke or No. 16 Southern in the second round on Tues., March 21 ... 2006 marks USC's 14th trip all-time to the NCAA tourney ... The program is 28-12 in the NCAA Tournament, with two NCAA title victories (1983 and 1984) ... Last season, in surprise Cinderella fashion, the Women of Troy went from a preseason expected finish of seventh in the Conference to a second round appearance in the Tournament ... The 2005 Tournament was USC's first trip to the NCAA tourney since 1997, and the Trojans won their first-round game 65-49 before falling 61-59 to eventual finalist Michigan State ... USC is led by JR G Shay Murphy, most recently named as a Kodak/WBCA All-American finalist for Region 8 ... Murphy ranks fifth in the Conference with a 17.6 scoring average, while ranking sixth overall in the rebounding category, pulling down an average of 7.3 boards per game ... SR G Meghan Gnekow will be playing in her final NCAA Tournament this week ... Gnekow has worked her way into and upwards on the USC career 3-point shooting charts and now sits at No. 5 all-time with 98 threes.
WASHINGTON (18-10, 11-7): Washington, finishing the regular season with an 18-10 overall record, picked up the No. 9 seed in the San Antonio Regional, and will face the eighth-seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Sat., March 18 in Nashville, Tenn. ... Washington and Minnesota have met four previous times, with UW leading the all-time series 3-1 ... The Huskies defeated the Golden Gophers last season in Seattle, 72-67 in overtime ... The contest will be held at 12 Noon ET/9 a.m. PT at Memorial Coliseum and will be televised live on ESPN2 ... Saturday's first round winner will play the winner between No. 1 seed LSU and No. 16 Florida Atlantic, on Mon., March 20 at a time TBD ... The Huskies are making their 15th trip to the NCAA Tournament, and first since 2003 ... UW is coming off the heels of a Pac-10 Tournament loss to USC, 70-67, on Sat., March 4 in San Jose, Calif. ... The Huskies also lost their two previous regular season contests against Bay Area foes, Stanford and California ... However, the team's non-conference record to open its season (7-2) , as well as its strength of schedule and fourth-place finish in the Conference were enough to convince the selection committee of its merit into the Tournament ... The Huskies are led by the services of JR G Cameo Hicks, an All-Pac-10 selection, ranking eighth in the league in scoring with a 15.1 ppg average ... UW's inside game features SO F Andrea Plouffe, who averages 10.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in the paint ... Fourteen NCAA appearances have seen Washington post an overall record of 14-14 ... The farthest a Husky team has advanced was to the Elite Eight twice (1990, 2001).