Doss: WBB Fighting for Seeds and for History

Week 17 — On the Court; In the Standings; Players of Week; In the Rankings; Up Next

Posted on February 27, 2020

Kim Doss
  By Kim Doss, SportsPac12

It’s already been a big week in the Pac-12. Teams are sorting out their final regular-season standings and the tournament seeding that goes along with them. The top won’t be decided until Monday, but we already know a lot about how things will shake out over the first two days in Las Vegas. 

On the Court

There were big stakes on the line in Maples Pavilion Friday night. Stanford and Oregon State were picked to finish second and third, respectively, by both the league’s coaches and the media. 

So far, the Cardinal have lived up to that despite the losses of senior DiJonai Carrington and freshman Haley Jones

Carrington

Carrington was meant to have a huge senior year. She was on multiple player of the year watch lists as well as the Cheryl Miller Award for the nation’s best small forward. It hasn’t turned out that way for her. She has been out for almost the entire season, last appearing in a game on Nov. 24. 


Jones was the top recruit in the nation when she signed with Stanford and has started every game since Carrington went down. She was lost almost a month ago, eliminating the third-leading scorer from the Cardinal lineup. Her last action came against Oregon State in Corvallis on Jan. 29.

The Beavers have had their own injury problems. They lost Taya Corosdale the second game of the season, just two minutes after she took the floor against Missouri State in the preseason WNIT.

Stanford’s Maya Dodson prepares to shoot vs. OSU. | Stanford Athletics

Oregon State adapted and thrived, holding out to become one of the final unbeatens in women’s college basketball this season. 

Then, came the game against Arizona State on Feb. 7. Freshman Kennedy Brown, who trailed only her teammate Taylor Jones in blocks per game this season, was lost for the remainder of the season. The Beavers won that game but have lost all three since.

Stanford made that four, but not easily. Oregon State fought to the final minutes in Palo Alto with junior Destiny Slocum trying to carry her team to the victory. 

The redshirt junior scored a season-high 26 points against the Cardinal, hitting one big shot after another to close the deficit in the fourth quarter. Slocum shot 50 percent from the field, going 11 for 22 with four made 3-pointers.

A 14-point fourth-quarter lead for Stanford was cut to a single possession. But, just like when the teams met in Corvallis, it was not to be. The Cardinal held on for the three-point victory, this time winning 63-60.

The win kept Stanford in the hunt for the regular-season title. For Oregon State, it means that they will not finish in the top four of the regular-season standings for the first time since the 2012-13 season when they went 4-14 and finished 11th.

Steph Curry with Sabrina Ionescu after her big night. | Pac-12 Networks

Three days later, it was time to pick things back up in Maples. This time it was between the Cardinal and the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks had a lot on the line both as a team and for one individual player.

Sabrina Ionescu long ago set the record for most triple-doubles in college basketball history. Not just for women, either. No man has touched her 26 triple-doubles over his college career. Truth is, in the modern one-and-done era, it’s questionable whether any man ever will. Ionescu had also surpassed Gary Payton for most assists in the Pac-10/12 by either a man or a woman. 

She had joined three women in NCAA basketball with 2,000 points and 1,000 assists and became just the second to do it in Division I women’s basketball. A handful of players had amassed 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Nobody, woman or man, had ever combined all three stats. Her well-rounded game made her the first as she grabbed her 1,000th rebound in the third quarter of the Ducks’ win over the Cardinal.

The bigger achievement for her team was a regular season championship. For the third straight year, the Ducks clinched at least a share of the Pac-12 regular-season title. They will go into Las Vegas as the top seed in the Pac-12 tournament once again, since they hold the tiebreaker over the only team that could conceivably tie them in the standings—Stanford.

To think that just four years ago, the Ducks lost in the semifinals of the WNIT…

In the Standings

As the regular season winds down, teams are positioning themselves for Pac-12 Tournament seedings. The top four seeds are in demand since the teams receive a first-round bye.

Oregon, Stanford and UCLA have all clinched their top-four finishes. The last weekend started with three teams vying for the final bye with Arizona in control of its destiny. 

Oregon State needed a near miracle, including going 4-0 with a road game at Stanford on the schedule. Arizona would have to go 0-4 with Utah, Colorado, Stanford and California still on the Wildcats’ schedule. 

While Stanford is still a Top 10 team even without Haley Jones, the other three on the schedule were set up nicely for the Wildcats. Only Colorado has an overall record above .500 and none have a winning record in the conference.

As for Arizona State, they needed their rivals from down I-10 to go no better than 1-3 while the Sun Devils swept their own final four games. As travel partners, both schools would face the same four teams.

Both the Beavs and the Devils got an apparent boost when it was revealed that Arizona star Aari McDonald had a lower leg injury. After 62 straight games on the court for the Wildcats, she would not play against Utah on Friday night, cracking the door for their opponents. 

That door was quickly slammed as Arizona beat the Utes by 16 behind a career-high 31 points from junior Sam Thomas. Only two remained in the hunt.

McDonald sat out two days later at Colorado, as well. In what is politely called a “defensive game,” the Buffs took the 50-38 victory. It wasn’t enough for the Sun Devils, though, as they suffered their own upset at Utah to eliminate them from the top four. 

Players of the Week

Melgoza
Osborne


Arizona and Arizona State weren’t the only two teams to get upset over the weekend. Amber Melgoza and her Washington Huskies took down UCLA on senior day in Seattle. It was enough to earn the Huskies’ high scorer the Pac-12 Player of the Week honor. The Bruins’ Charisma Osborne picked up Freshman of the Week despite the loss after she put up two huge games in the Apple State.

In the Rankings

The upsets were enough to cause some shifting in the AP rankings, but not enough for any of the Pac-12 teams to fall out. When the dust settled, there were still six ranked teams in the Conference. Oregon and Stanford remained at No. 3 and No. 4 in the AP poll, which came out before the two teams met on ESPN2 Monday night. UCLA fell only one spot after its loss to Washington, landing at No. 9. 

The coaches had only five teams in their USA Today/WBCA rankings. They had already dropped ASU to No. 24 last week. Their upset in Salt Lake City dropped them into the “others receiving votes” category, where they were the top team on the outside looking in. 

—Up Next—

The twelve teams wrap up their final weekend of the regular season beginning Friday. Most teams are still jockeying for seeding in the Pac-12 Tournament, which will begin on Mar. 5.
Most of the drama revolves around which of the top four seeds end up facing off against Oregon should they both reach the semifinals. It is still mathematically possible for Stanford, UCLA and Arizona to end the regular season anywhere from second to fourth. Everyone would prefer to avoid the fourth seed and the red-hot Ducks.
 
Stanford and Arizona can settle their part of the fight on Friday when they tip off in Tucson for their only meeting of the season. Last year, the Cardinal blew the Wildcats out in Tucson at the beginning of the season but beat them by just two in the waning seconds at Maples Pavilion during the penultimate weekend. 
 
UCLA will be in Pauley Pavilion hoping that Colorado and Utah have gotten the upsets out of their systems.
 
Oregon will be waiting for all of them.



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