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Week 13 in Womens Basketball

Doss: Time to Break Some Streaks in WBB 

Week 13 — On the Court; In the Rankings; Players of Week; Up Next

Arizona's Sam Thomas, Aari McDonald, and Amari Carter celebrate their win at Mckale Center. | Mike Christy/Arizona Athletics


By Kim Doss, SportsPac12


T
he biggest Pac-12 games of last week happened in the Pacific Northwest and the desert Southwest. All three were parts of streaks that one of the teams was trying to break. Mission accomplished. 

On the Court (and in the Stands)


Both legs of the Civil War were played last weekend. Both legs of the Civil War were sold out. 

The story of attendance for Pac-12 women’s basketball is almost as important as the story of the games. The demand for the games is proving that women’s games can be draws. Huge draws, in fact.

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With nearly half the conference season now over, the Oregon Ducks lead the 12 teams in home attendance with an average of 10,363 fans in Matthew Knight Arena to watch the top-ranked team in the league. 

That’s 2,845 more than the Oregon men’s team averages. 

Oregon State also draws more fans than its men’s team. Arizona, which is ranked third in women’s attendance, outdraws five Pac-12 men’s teams and has had at least 8,000 fans at its last two home games. 

Those massive crowds create the kind of home-court advantage that used to be rare for women’s basketball but is becoming more common around the country. 


Oregon's Ruthy Hebard defends at Matthew Knight. | Eric Evans/GoDucks.com

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For Arizona, both the players and coach Adia Barnes credit their enthusiastic crowd for helping the team rise up and defeat Arizona State last week. It was the first time the Wildcats had swept the Sun Devils since 2000. 

The Ducks’ huge home crowd may well have intimidated Oregon State, as Oregon controlled the first game of the Civil War, winning 76-64. 

The crowd in Corvallis didn’t seem to bother the Ducks, though.  The visitors took their first game at Gill Coliseum since 2010, defeating the Beavers 66-57.


In the Rankings

As expected, the contests between ranked opponents caused some movement in the polls for all four teams who played this week. They were probably at least partially responsible for the rise of UCLA.


Oregon’s sweep of Oregon State bumped the Ducks up in the AP poll, moving them back up to No. 3 from their fourth-place position last week. Stanford stood pat at No. 6, making the Cardinal’s ranking the second highest in the Pac-12.
   
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With the Beavers losing, UCLA took advantage and moved up to No. 8, a two-spot improvement over last week’s position of 10th. The Bruins were back to their winning ways with the return of Michaela Onyenwere, defeating both Mountain schools on the road. Last week, Onyenwere sat out as the team took its first loss of the season against USC.

Meanwhile, the Beavers dropped to No. 10, the lowest they've been ranked this season. 

Climbing to their highest ranking of the season was Arizona. After sweeping ASU for the first time in 20 years, the No. 16 Wildcats also found themselves with their highest ranking in two decades. With their rival taking over the previous spot in the polls, the Sun Devils fell to No. 19.


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The coaches were in general agreement with the media, ranking the teams in the same order, but rating several teams a bit lower than the writers. Third-ranked Oregon was followed in the USA Today/WBCA poll by No. 6 Stanford, No. 9 UCLA, No. 10 Oregon State, No. 17 Arizona and No. 20 ASU.

RPI is also becoming more important with every day as the postseason inches ever closer. The six teams ranked in the major polls are all within the top 33 of the official RPI. Oregon, Stanford and UCLA are all in the top six. The Colorado Buffaloes are still searching for a signature win, but they sit near the NCAA Tournament bubble at No. 43 in the RPI. 

Players of the Week

The Ducks’ sweep of their in-state rivals was enough to earn Sabrina Ionescu her second-straight Pac-12 Player of the Week honor.

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Ionescu climbed to No. 7 in the NCAA women’s basketball record book with 950 assists over her career. That’s more than any man or woman in Pac-12 history, surpassing former Oregon State men’s great Gary Payton.  

USC freshman Endyia Rogers got her first Pac-12 Freshman of the Week nod by helping to lead her team to victories over Washington and Washington State. The young guard put together a stat line of 21 points, three rebounds, five assists, and a steal in 36 minutes to defeat the Cougars. 

It was her career record for points in a game. 
Rogers

Two days later, Rogers was being called on to make an even bigger contribution against the Huskies. It took overtime for the Women of Troy to close out the weekend sweep. Rogers played for 42 minutes and contributed 29 points, six rebounds, nine assists, a block and two steals to help her team improve to 3-5 in conference play.

—Up Next—

Another week, another slate of games featuring ranked opponents. Once again, they are being played in the desert of Arizona.

Oh, yeah . . . There’s that little mid-season out-of-conference clash between two top-five teams taking place in Storrs, Conn.






No. 8 UCLA Bruins (18-1, 7-1) at No. 16 Arizona Wildcats (16-3, 5-3) and No. 8 UCLA Bruins at No. 19 Arizona State Sun Devils (15-5, 5-3)

When: Friday, Jan. 31 at 5 p.m. PT/6 p.m. MT and Sunday, Feb. 2 at 11 a.m. PT/12 p.m. MT

TV: Pac-12 Networks (Arizona, Los Angles and national) on both days

The Bruins will be traveling to the state of Arizona looking to complete the season sweep against the Wildcats and the Sun Devils. It's a tall order for UCLA, as both teams are very good at home.

On Friday, the visitors travel to McKale Center, where they needed three overtimes to defeat a much less experienced Arizona team last season. 

“This game means a lot, honestly,” Arizona guard Aari McDonald said. “Definitely pay back from early January, and we owe them one from last year, as well.”

This season, the Bruins will face a highly rated team according to the analytics. Her Hoops Stats rates the Wildcats as the No. 20 team overall compared to the No. 22 Bruins. Arizona’s superiority is largely based on their defense. The service rates the Wildcats as the No. 8 defensive unit compared to UCLA at No. 22.

Where UCLA comes out on top is on the offensive end of the court. There, the Bruins are rated No. 25 versus the Wildcats at No. 39.

On Sunday, the Bruins will be in Tempe. The last time a pair of top 10 teams visited Desert Financial Arena, they walked away with unexpected losses. The Sun Devils would love to get another resume-boosting win over a top-10 team to help them forget about the loss last Sunday.

Like the Wildcats, the Sun Devils are rated very similarly to their top-10 opponent. Her Hoop Stats places them at No. 24 overall, just behind No. 22 UCLA. Once again, it’s the defense that keeps ASU in the mix. They are rated five spots higher than the Bruins at No. 17. On offense, they are considerably lower, coming in at No. 41 compared to UCLA’s No. 25.

At 7-1, UCLA is tied with Stanford and Oregon atop the Pac-12 standings. If they lose either of their games this weekend, they could be at risk of leaving that spot to Oregon and Stanford. 



  


No. 3 Oregon Ducks at No. 4 Connecticut Huskies

When: Monday, Feb. 3 at 4 p.m. PT/5 p.m. MT

TV: ESPN2

For the second-straight weekend, the Ducks will be taking on a top-10 team on the road in a game on the ESPN networks. This time, though, it’s a trip across the country to face one of the sport’s all-time great programs.

The fortunate part for Oregon is that this Connecticut Huskies team is not quite as formidable as in years past. Geno Auriemma and his team had their 98-game home winning streak snapped by Baylor earlier this month. Still, it’s their only loss.

The Huskies also played a closer-than-expected game against the California Golden Bears early in the season. Unranked Cal, which lost over 80 percent of its scoring and 60 percent of its rebounding from last season, fell to UConn by just 11 points in Storrs on Nov. 10. 

Oregon definitely has the firepower to challenge the Huskies. The difficulty for the Ducks is having to play games at Colorado and Utah before heading back East. Their match-up with the Huskies will be their third road game in five days. 

It’s a big ask, but the Ducks are a big-time team.


Kim Doss (@KimDoss71) covers Pac-12 Women's Basketball and Softball for SportsPac12.com. 

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