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2022 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament

March 2-6 | Las Vegas, NV
Michelob ULTRA Arena

Michelle Smith roundup: Stanford advances to Pac-12 Tournament semifinals while paying tribute to Katie Meyer

Mar 3, 2022
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LAS VEGAS - Stanford players took the court wearing women’s soccer t-shirts and tape on their wrists with the initials “KM” for Cardinal women’s soccer team captain Katie Meyer, who passed away earlier this week in an unimaginable moment that has left the entire campus reeling.

A few players had written tributes to Meyer on their shoes and the emotion of this week was written on the faces in the moments following a 57-44 win over Oregon State that sent the top-seeded and second-ranked Cardinal (26-3) to their 20th Pac-12 Tournament semifinal on Friday night against No. 5-seed Colorado, which edged No. 4 seed Arizona 45-43 in Thursday’s opening game at Michelob ULTRA Arena.

Junior guard Haley Jones, newly minted Pac-12 Player of the Year who finished the game with 20 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, said that Meyer’s death has “hit everyone a little differently.”

“We are really close to the soccer team and everybody had their own relationships with Katie,” Jones said. “We had time as a team to talk about it and we talked to everybody back at campus and we did something as a team last night to kind of release things emotionally.

“We just wanted to let everybody know back at home that we were supporting them, that she was loved and we are with everybody at Stanford.”

Senior guard Anna Wilson said the Cardinal wanted to embody Meyer’s spirit as they played on Thursday. They did their friend proud with an all-around effort that included jumping out to a 16-2 lead, hitting a total of eight 3-pointers and committing just three turnovers, the first one not coming until there was a little more than six minutes left in regulation.

Stanford was equally cohesive on defense, holding Oregon State to 29.6 percent shooting.

“It was like a heavyweight fight,” said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer, who is 51-6 in the conference tournament. “We know each other well, and they are talented. We knew we needed to step up defensively, which we did.”

Oregon State may well find itself on the outside of the NCAA bubble after finishing the season with a 14-13 record and eight losses in its last 11 games, three of those games to the Cardinal.

Beavers coach Scott Rueck said that he felt that if his team could defend well and hold Stanford under 60 points, they had a good chance at the upset.

“We couldn’t hit our shots,” he said.

In addition to Jones’ big game, Stanford got 11 points from Wilson and 10 points and six rebounds from Defensive Player of the Year Cameron Brink.

Colorado 45 - Arizona 43

The fifth-seeded Buffaloes (22-7) punched their ticket to the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals for the first time since 2015 in a defensive battle against fourth-seeded Arizona, winning 45-43.

The Buffaloes, winning a game with the lowest point total in tournament history, weathered a 10-0 Arizona run late in the fourth quarter to fall behind by six points. They grabbed back the lead back on a 3-pointer by Frida Formann with two minutes to go to give the Buffs a 44-41 lead.

Colorado stifled the Wildcats without a field goal in their final nine attempts, including a baseline jumper by Shaina Pellington that went over the backside of the rim as time expired.

“We were up, we were down. We came back up, came back down,” said Colorado head coach JR Payne. “It was definitely a defensive effort from both teams as we knew it would be. In the end, I think we just handled our business. We talk about everything's a business trip and everyone has a job to do and we were able to do that tonight.”

Without senior Cate Reese on the floor, missing her third game with a shoulder separation, the Arizona offense struggled against the Buffaloes’ zone, connecting on just 25 percent of their shots from the floor and going 2-for-24 from beyond the 3-point arc. The 43 points matched the lowest total that Colorado had allowed this season.

The Buffaloes, who led for all but three minutes in the second half, was paced by Mya Hollingshed with 12 points, their only player in double figures.

Arizona was led inside by Lauren Ware with 15 points and eight rebounds.

Reese’s absence on the floor is clearly having an impact on Arizona, which has lost three of its last four games. While their NCAA position is secure, the Wildcats' seeding matters greatly as they are looking for a top-four seed to host games in Tucson when the tournament starts in a couple of weeks. Reese was not in a sling on the bench and could well be back in time for an NCAA run.

“I think we were getting to a point where we had a lot of momentum and we worked really hard throughout the season to put ourselves in a great situation,” head coach Adia Barnes said. “And then things happen. It's basketball. And then one of your best players gets hurt.

“But I think that what a good team does is they rally and find a way to step up and I think we have been doing that.”

Barnes made her case for her team keeping a No. 4 seed after the game.

“I would say we deserve that No. 4 seed,” she said. “We're not healthy right now, but we put our work in the whole year. We have an incredible environment where I would be shocked if we didn't sell out, which is really good for our game.”