Pac-12 12 Things: Ionescu, Caldwell-Anigwe connection, Stanford falls at Gonzaga

via Cal Athletics
via Cal Athletics /

We’re about one month in to the 2018-19 season, meaning Pac-12 women’s basketball conference play is right around the corner. A look back at the week that was:

1. Career high for Corosdale

Oregon State’s Taya Corosdale dished a career high seven assists against La Salle. I can understand general skepticism toward taking something away from a game the Beavers led by 39 at the half. Corosdale did set up four different teammates (Kat Tudor, Aleah Goodman, Janessa Thropay, Madison Washington) for layups or 3-pointers against man and zone defenses.

The other three were noteworthy because of who she set up — senior center Joanna Grymek. Though Grymek is a limited offensive player, she does need to really dedicate herself up to doing more damage as a high-low threat. Simply keeping defenders on her back and presenting herself as a big target will allow Corosdale and others to dime her up right under the rim.

2. Six treys for Porter

Utah has started games with more of a dual-point guard lineup featuring senior Erika Bean and freshman Dru Gylten. Porter, a transfer from UC Santa Barbara, shot 35 percent from deep last season on 5.6 attempts per game and 41.1 percent the year prior on similar volume. As Porter gets acclimated, she could give the Utes a third shooter to station around one of its lead guards and Dre’una Edwards.

3. USC marches on without Mazyck

The score was tied at 48 apiece in the third quarter of a tilt between USC and UNLV in Las Vegas last weekend. As part of a 15-2 run from that point for the Women of Troy, Shalexxus Aaron hit three 3-pointers in less than 90 seconds of game time. A Minyon Moore triple at the horn gave USC a 16 point lead heading into the final period.

Aaron’s second 3-pointer in that run came out of a ‘Horns Flare’ set.

UNLV did switch that flare screen. Aaron managed to hit the shot over a decent contest. With that win, USC is three wins away from an undefeated run through nonconference play heading into their Pac-12 opener with UCLA.

4. Washington State finding a groove?

The Cougars have scored 90+ points in two straight games now, picking up wins over San Francisco and Boise State. They got 28 points, seven assists and five steals from Chanelle Molina against USF. Then Alexys Swedlund got loose to can five 3-pointers for the second time this season against Boise State. Molina added 11 assists in that one, seven of which led to 3-pointers.

Through eight games, Molina has assisted on 33.1 percent of her teammate’s buckets while on the floor against a turnover rate of 17.1. Both are an improvement over last season’s marks of 22 and 20.1.

Molina attacking with confidence means trouble in transition for opponents that fail to find Hristova and Swedlund at the 3-point line:

5. UW’s frosh gets back into double digits

Top 100 2018 recruit Haley Van Dyke was Washington’s second leading scorer (13 points on 6-of-10 shooting) behind Amber Melgoza in Sunday’s win over George Mason. After scoring 10 or more in two of her first three college contests, Van Dyke got up just 10 shots in her next four games combined.

I still have the same big question for this team that I had kicking around in my head to start the season. Who scores consistently for them behind Melgoza? Can Van Dyke be that player so early in her career?

The team’s statistical profile looks pretty good despite failing to break 60 points in two of their three losses. They’re grabbing 36 percent of their own misses, rank in the top 30 in 2-point shooting percentage (52.9) and are getting up a bunch of threes.

They just need to start making a few more of them. Their team 3-point percentage of 28.4 falls in the 30th percentile nationally per Her Hoop Stats. 10 players are averaging 10+ minutes per game. Without trimming the rotation down to seven or eight, Jody Wynn has more combinations to explore. This team defends and they’re getting open looks.

I expect the 3-point shooting to creep back up toward last season’s 32 percent mark, the sooner the better with Mississippi State coming to their place in less than two weeks.

6. Player of the week: Aari McDonald, Arizona

McDonald got up a whopping 14 3-point attempts in the team’s win at San Diego State. She’s shooting 26 percent from deep through six games even after making five in that one. You’d still rather have to someday reign that back than the inverse.


Because McDonald is so quick in space that you want defenses to have to step out to the 3-point line to guard her. It really is that simple. She has a short memory and doesn’t stop attacking, a relentless force Arizona needs to make a statement after last season’s 2-16 finish.

7. Freshman of the week: Peanut Tuitele

Tuitele gives this team a capable roller/rim-runner next to stretch forward Mya Hollingshed. She moves well getting out to the perimeter to contest shots and runs the floor hard to create early offense opportunities in transition. Tuitele has also stepped out to knock down a few 3-pointers and has looked very comfortable attacking the open gaps in a zone, far from a given for a freshman.

8. Ionescu drops 17 dimes

Watch Sabrina Ionescu move all five defenders with two different pass fakes. The first Ionescu fake got a defender out of her face. The second moved the other four toward the opposite sideline, clearing Erin Boley’s runway to the rim.

This time Ionescu waves Boley toward the high post, further exposing Long Beach State’s poor execution with the back line of their 2-3 zone. The opposite wing began following Boley rather than shading toward the corner. The result? Taylor Chavez had 20+ feet between her and the nearest defender when the pass left Ionescu’s hands.

9. The emerging Recee Caldwell/Kristine Anigwe connection

This is great work by Caldwell to know when and how to get the ball to her star.

Five dimes, five different reads required to make them — clearing the wing to ensure Anigwe can work one-on-one, throwing it early the second she’s open, waiting to let her establish a base, throwing it ahead to a spot where only she can get to it and leading her on a roll to be able to go right up with it.

10. Melgoza draws a crowd

This was just funny. Amber Melgoza is that good that your entire team should always know where she is. Unfortunately on that sequence, all three took the same path to jump her as she came off that baseline stagger.

Then for a split-second, they all stopped. Surely if not aloud, they all internally said some version of, “Oh, crap.” Freeze against the best players in this conference and somebody’s going to get a layup.

11. Stanford loses at Gonzaga

The Cardinal did not play well enough to expect to win on either side of the ball as they played without Lexie Hull. Alanna Smith fouled out in 24 minutes. The offense deserves more patience at this point. I’m not sure Kiana Williams is a point guard. Her willingness to take open 3-pointers waxes and wanes throughout games; I’d like to see her shooting every time she’s open.

Missing a handful of layups and 10 of your 24 free throws should hurt. The defensive lapses should sting more. Gonzaga didn’t do anything special to get these four first quarter triples. Stanford gave them away.

Whether it was part of the gameplan or not, there was no reason to shade or send a second defender into the post. Those kick out passes were too easy to see. Lapses followed them into the second, as they over-helped or got caught ball-watching as Gonzaga stepped right into three more standstill jumpers.

Naturally, they tried a 2-3 zone. Credit the Zags to some degree here for their player and ball movement, which led to another spot up triple, a drive right through the heart of the zone and a face cut right to the rim.

12. Japreece Dean thinking outside the box

More guards should be doing this! You’re a lot stronger from that position, especially when the alternative in holding your ground comes down to what you can get away with throwing up an arm bar.

Previous editions of the column: Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1