Michelle Smith Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament Semifinals Preview
Mar 5, 2021
No. 1 Stanford (23-2) vs. No. 5 Oregon State (11-6)
What happened in 2020-21: Stanford won 83-58 in Corvallis on February 13; their first scheduled game at Stanford was postponed while Oregon State was in a lengthy COVID pause and unable to be rescheduled.
Recent history: Stanford has won seven in a row in this series.
Tournament History: This Stanford’s 19th trip to the semifinals in 20 years, they are 17-1 in semifinal games; Oregon State is making its fifth trip to the semifinals, the Beavers are 2-2 in semifinals games.
The stakes: Stanford is vying for a No. 1 NCAA seed, a semifinal loss might damage that, or at least drop the Cardinal down in the S-Curve...Oregon State solidified its NCAA position with third straight win over ranked team (UCLA, Oregon, Oregon). A fourth straight would definitely improve their seeding.
What the Cardinal need to do to win: Stay balanced. The Cardinal had 10 players score in their win over USC. That situation doesn’t always present itself, but sharing the ball and sharing the scoring load is when Stanford is at its most lethal. They are very difficult to beat when they can score from every position and bring more offense off the bench. Anna Wilson, the league’s co-defensive player of the year, will draw the defensive assignment on Aleah Goodman. Making Goodman uncomfortable will be key to the defensive gameplan. In fact, perimeter defense will be upmost importance against an OSU team that has added scoring punch on the outside with freshman Talia Von Oelhoffen. Lastly, Cameron Brink is incredibly valuable to the Cardinal on the floor. She needs to stay there and out of foul trouble.
What the Beavers need to do to win: Score and score more. The 92 points that the Cardinal put up against USC sends a message for the OSU offense. They are going to need to keep up and either match or beat the Cardinal at the 3-point arc. Over its last nine games, Oregon State has shot 49.8 percent from the floor, while holding its opponents to 37.9 percent shooting. The Beavers are shooting a blistering 49.7 percent from beyond the arc over their last nine games.
X-Factors: Hannah Jump coming off the bench to bury some key 3s for the Cardinal; Taylor Jones, who has scored in double figures in four straight games, and has collected 69 rebounds over the last six games.
No. 3 UCLA (15-4) vs. No. 2 Arizona (16-4)
What happened in 2020-21: Arizona pulled out a 68-65 win at home in the Pac-12 opening way back on December 4. Their second scheduled matchup on January 31 was postponed.
Recent history: Arizona has won two games in a row in the series; UCLA had won the previous 13 in a row before that.
Tournament history: UCLA has reached the semifinals 14 times in 20 years and are 5-8 in semifinal games; Arizona is making its fifth appearance in the semifinals, and are 2-2 in semifinal games.
The Stakes: UCLA and Arizona both have high seeds in this tournament, and nothing will happen in this game to change that, but UCLA hasn’t been in the title game since 2016, and Arizona never won a conference tournament title, but has advanced twice in 2003 and 2004.
What the Bruins need to do to win: First and foremost, stay out of foul trouble. The Bruins aren’t a deep team and they need their key players on the floor. They have been disciplined to this point in the season and need more of that. Playing a competitive game from start to finish in the quarterfinals against Washington gave the starters very little time to rest, and they are going to have to muster some energy for the back-to-back against a tough Arizona team. They are going to need to dig deep to play the defense and rebound that they will need to fuel their offensive success. And they need to shoot better than they did against Washington on Thursday and ensure that Michaela Onyenwere gets more scoring touches earlier in the game. UCLA had 12 turnovers at the half against Washington. Arizona can be a swarming defensive team and the Bruins will need to take good care of the ball.
What the Wildcats need to do to win: More of what got them here. Arizona was relentless defensively on Thursday against the Cougars, forcing 25 turnovers. UCLA will be more sure-handed with the ball, but turning up the defensive heat and denying Onyenwere clean looks will be key. Aari McDonald will be the offensive focus, but she doesn’t need to be the only one with Cate Reese and Sam Thomas prepared to pick up the scoring load.
X-factors: Trinity Baptiste. Baptiste has told Adia Barnes that she doesn’t want to go home yet and she’s playing like it. She could play a big role again Friday. For UCLA’s Emily Bessoir, coming off the bench hitting 3-pointers may be a separator.
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