No one scores like the Washington Huskies in Pac-12 Conference women’s basketball. Unfortunately for the Huskies, no one stops the Huskies from scoring like the California Bears.
The Bears held Washington to just 53 points – 22 below their league-leading average – and a season low of 32.1 percent shooting from the field in a convincing 69-53 victory in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament Friday night at KeyArena.
“Our girls have had a great year,” Huskies coach Mike Neighbors said. “I think they had a bad day today.”
Neighbors said he’s confident the Huskies (23-9) will be soothing their wounds in two weeks in the NCAA tournament.
“We better be,” guard Kelsey Plum growled.
Plum was not in the best of moods after the game. The Pac-12 scoring leader reacted angrily when she fouled out late in the game (“It wasn’t a foul”), and she was limited to 15 points on 5-for-16 shooting (2-for-7 on 3-pointers).
“Just a frustrating game in general,” Plum said. “Me personally, I didn’t play the way I needed to play.”
Point guard Jazmine Davis, Washington’s other primary scoring weapon, also struggled against a Cal squad that pressured the ball and made good use of a 1-3-1 zone defense. Davis scored a game-high 21 points, but she went 6-for-18 from the field, including 1-for-6 from beyond the arc.
“They’re really long, and they’re active,” Neighbors said. “They can really cover a lot of territory, and it makes us passive, and we’re not normally a passive team.”
The fifth-seeded Huskies made 18 turnovers against the fourth-seeded Bears (22-7). Cal held Washington to 58 points when the Bears won 82-58 at Alaska Airlines Arena in January.
California point guard Brittany Boyd, whose name is sprinkled about the NCAA and Pac-12 record books, led the Bears with 20 points and 10 rebounds. She added four assists (tied for the team lead) and three steals in perhaps her final battle with Davis, another four-year starter.
“Jaz is an excellent player,” Boyd said. “She’s really changed the U-Dub program since her freshman year.”
Pac-12 Player of the Year Reshanda Gray sank just 3 of 11 shots and finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.
The NCAA tournament field is announced March 16.
Arizona State 67, Washington State 48
The Cougars missed their first nine shots from the field. Missed 10 of their first 13 free throws. Missed 13 of 14 attempts from 3-point range.
All that, and the Cougars trailed only 19-16 at the half. Neither team could make baskets, even layups. With a pro-WSU crowd estimated at 1,000 cheering them on, Washington State had a chance to beat the ninth-ranked team in the country and, possibly, clinch the Cougars’ first NCAA tournament berth since 1991.
It all fell apart in the second half. The Beavers scored at will inside, piling up 48 points on 70.8 percent shooting after intermission to send the Cougars packing.
As usual, guards Tia Presley and Lia Galdeira led the Cougars in scoring. Despite injuries that briefly forced them to leave the floor, Presley scored a game-high 16 points and had a career-high seven steals, Galdeira added 12 points and three steals, though she went 4-for-17 from the field (1-for-8 on 3-pointers) and 3-for-11 at the free-throw line.
“Gutsy performance by Lia and Tia to come back out and play,” WSU coach June Daugherty said. “They were obviously in a lot of pain. They weren’t able to be as explosive as they usually are.”
“They’re very tough players,” WSU forward Mariah Cooks said. “Some of the toughest I’ve ever played with.”
The Cougars fell to 17-14, including 2-7 against Top 25 teams. Daugherty said she’s confident the Cougars will at least get to play in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament for the second consecutive year, and she’s not ruling out an NCAA invite.
“You always have a chance,” she said. “Just because of the schedule that we played, and the success we had in (nonconference games).”
Kelsey Moos, a cousin of Washington State athletic director Bill Moos, helped down the Cougars by scoring all eight of her points on 4-for-4 shooting in the second half. Moos starred at little Reardan High School in Eastern Washington.
Energetic defender Promise Amukamara hounded Galdeira. The Sun Devils (27-4) outrebounded WSU 41-23, outscored the Cougars 38-28 in the paint and had a 17-5 advantage in second-chance points. The Cougars had 17 steals among ASU’s 20 turnovers.
Colorado 68, Oregon State 65
The ninth-seeded Buffaloes, who lost their only league game with the Beavers 66-44 two weeks ago at home, stunned the top-seeded Beavers.
Lexi Kresi, the only Colorado player who even made honorable mention all-conference, ignited the Buffaloes by going 4-for-4 on 3-pointers in the first three minutes. Kresi finished 5-for-5 from beyond the arc and scored a game-high 19 points. Jamee Swan battled inside and posted 18 points and 13 rebounds (six offensive).
The Beavers (26-4) have lost two of their last three games. Center Ruth Hamblin led Oregon State with 14 points, but OSU shot 33.8 percent from the floor. The Beavers were 6-for-31 (19.4 percent) on 3’s, compared to 6-for-9 (66.7 percent) for the Buffaloes.
Stanford 67, UCLA 62
The Bruins made a late charge at the Cardinal, but Stanford secured the win by sinking all four free throws in the final 15 seconds.
Standout point guard Amber Orrange led Stanford with 18 points. Kari Korver added 14.
The Bruins pulled within one with 22 seconds left when freshman guard Jordin Canada converted a layin. She led the Bruins with 15 points and a game-high eight assists, enabling her to tie the tournament record of 17 total assists.
PAC-12 CONFERENCE WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT
At KeyArena, Seattle
All games televised on Pac-12 Network except title game on ESPN
First round (with seeding)
No. 7 Washington State 66, No. 10 Oregon 64
No. 6 UCLA 80, No. 6 Arizona 62
No. 9 Colorado 68, No. 8 USC 63
8:30 p.m. – No. 5 Washington (23-8) 75, No. 12 Utah 64
No. 2 Arizona State 67, Washington State 48
No. 3 Stanford 67, UCLA 62
Colorado 68, Oregon State 65
Washington (23-8) vs. No. 4 California (21-8)
6 p.m. –Arizona State (27-4) vs. Stanford (22-9)
8:30 p.m. – Colorado vs. Washington-California winner.
6 p.m. – Saturday winners
I hope the Huskies make it into the Big Dance, but I don’t see the NCAA taking 5 Pac-12 teams.
Too much size for the Huskies to deal with inside. On top of being very long and talented defensively, Cal is also very physical and it seemed as though the UW stopped driving by the end of the first half and settled for outside shots instead. Credit where it’s due: Cal is one good basketball team.
I don’t think the Huskies’ season is over yet, but “NIT bound” probably has the appropriate handle.