Before No. 5 Washington met No. 12 Oregon in the first-day finale, the first three games of the women’s Pac-12 Tournament at KeyArena Thursday night contained no surprises. Seventh-seeded USC handled 10th-seeded Oregon State, 64-57. Sixth-seeded Utah breezed past 11th-seeded Arizona, 66-48. Even the No. 8 Cougars beat the ninth-seeded Sun Devils, 48-41. Attendance for the inaugural event in Seattle: Small.
Just more than 2,800 attended the first session of the tournament included the wins by USC and Utah. The number is up from last year’s tourney at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Slightly more than 1,500 attended the four games of the first session last year.
No. 7 USC 64, No. 10 Oregon State 57
Oregon State beat itself in the opener. The Beavers hit 10 of 23 shots from behind the arc but amassed 27 team fouls. USC capitalized, hitting a tourney-record 35 free throws on 46 attempts. The record was 33 by Stanford against UCLA in the 2002 quarterfinals. The 46 free throws attempted by USC smashed the previous record by 11.
The Trojans broke from a tie at 41 with nine minutes remaining and put the game away with an 13-4 run. The Beavers cut the lead to four with 54 seconds left on a 3-ball from Ali Gibson (13 points, 5-13 shooting), but the Trojans hit all five free-throw attempts in the final minute.
The Trojans’ Ariya Crook (17 points, 3-7 shooting) led all scorers. Ten points came from the line.
USC plays No. 2 California Friday at noon. The Trojans dropped their lone contest with the Bears this season, 71-63, in overtime.
No. 6 Utah 66, No. 11 Arizona 48
With the exception of a tie at 2, Utah led the entire way. The Utes shot a healthy 45 percent from the field while holding Arizona to 34 percent. The majority of Utah’s damage came from behind the three-point line — 12 of 23. Utah hit 11 of its 12 three pointers in the first half, cruising to a 43-29 lead.
Trailing by as much as 17 early in the second half, the Wildcats closed to 10, but that was it. Utah’s Michelle Ploufee (24 points, 9 rebounds) and Arizona’s Davellyn Whyte (23 points, 8 rebounds) carried the majority of the load for their squads.
Whyte was the only player to finish in double figures for the Wildcats, while Taryn Micijowski (14 points) and Iwalani Rodrigues (10 points) led the Utes.
Utah plays No. 3 UCLA at 2:30 p.m. Friday. The Utes were blown out by UCLA, 70-42, a month ago.
No. 8 Washington State 46, No. 9 Arizona State 41
The Cougars overcame a dreadful first-half shooting performance (5-23 shooting) and the absence of coach June Daugherty to advance to the quarterfinals.
Daugherty, the former University of Washington coach (1996-2007), was taken to the hospital after the team’s shoot-around Thursday afternoon, suffering acute appendicitis. Team physician Dennis Garcia said Daugherty was to have undergone surgery Thursday night and be released Friday morning.
“Her prognosis is excellent,” Garcia said. Daugherty’s husband, associate head coach Mike Daugherty, served as head coach.
After trailing 18-13 at the half, the Cougars shot 48 percent, grabbing a lead as large as 12 before hanging on. The Sun Devils failed to hit a single three-point shot on 11 attempts.
Janae Fulcher (20 points, 7-11 shooting) was the only Sun Devil to score more than six points. Promise Amukamara grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds but missed 11 of 12 shots.
The Cougars were led by Lia Galderia (17 points, 7-15 shooting) and Dawnyella Awa (10 points, 2-7 shooting).
The Cougars have the daunting task of playing Stanford Friday in the quarterfinals. The Cardinal has won the last six tournaments and nine of the 11 since it debuted in 2002. Tipoff is at 6 p.m.