Pac-12 12 Things: Battle for LA, ASU 2OT win in Corvallis

TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Charli Turner Thorne yells at her team during a college women's basketball game between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Arizona Wildcats on December 30, 2018, at McKale Center in Tucson, AZ. (Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Charli Turner Thorne yells at her team during a college women's basketball game between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Arizona Wildcats on December 30, 2018, at McKale Center in Tucson, AZ. (Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

12 things on another week in Pac-12 women’s basketball, including Arizona State’s gutty double overtime win at Oregon State:

Satou saves the day

You know the phrase about how the ball can move faster than the defense? It’s often true. Just not last Friday in crunch time in Eugene.

Satou Sabally had no interest in watching Arizona State freshman Taya Hanson tie the game with another 3-pointer.

Sabally did shoot just 2-of-10 from the floor, and Erin Boley was held to three shot attempts in 17 minutes. No matter, as Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard did enough of the heavy lifting. But they probably don’t pull that one out without Maite Cazorla’s 16 points on nine shots.

Opposing teams are right to pay a great deal of attention to the Ionescu-Hebard pick and roll combo. Cazorla can do a little bit of everything, too, when her assertiveness matches her talent level.

ASU splits Oregon trip

The Oregon State portion will dive into their Sunday double overtime thriller. Two days prior, ASU hung tough late with the Ducks on their home floor. However, the way they lost control of the game late was a bit discouraging.

They went under on too many screens against Ionescu and Cazorla. That duo got up nine 3-pointers out of pick and roll or a handoff and made five of them. None were contested all that well. You have to concede something against Oregon. But considering the track record of those two guards as shooters, I don’t see how that gives you a more favorable path to victory.

Fast-forward to crunch time. How do you not get Kianna Ibis a touch on these two possessions?

Then trailing by three in the final minute, it became clear as the possession unfolded that they didn’t know that the shot clock was winding down. It became a fouling game after they punted that possession away, and Oregon took care of business at the line.

Anigwe leads key 4Q surges

The Golden Bears took care of business, sweeping the Washington schools after a 1-3 start in conference play. They started the weekend playing with much more pace against Washington State, whose front line was too slow changing ends to keep up with Kristine Anigwe.

Anigwe had a monster second half, pouring in 18 of her 29 points to help Cal pull away. More importantly, Recee Caldwell, Asha Thomas and McKenzie Forbes each scored at the rim on straight line drives. Those drives to score balance out the offense and will force defenses to consider if they really want to commit to intense ball pressure to make it more difficult for them to feed Anigwe in the post.

Not getting any easier for Buffs

Things will only get tougher as they look to lock up their first conference win. Playing again without lead guard Kennedy Leonard, Alexis Robinson (24 points, 9-of-28 shooting) must feel the weight of the world on her shoulders to score enough to give them a chance.

Utah did some switching to force her into long, contested pull up jump shots. Moving forward, I’ll be interested to see if Mya Hollingshed and Peanut Tuitele are able to drag those switches down onto the block for a quick post up, as Utah’s Megan Huff did to them here:

Utes O continues to roll

The Utes shot 12-of-22 from deep as they cruised to a season sweep over the Buffs. Making some semi-contested threes allowed them to get out to an early lead, as did Kiana Moore’s two steals that lead directly to buckets.

Utah has Cal and Stanford at their place this weekend—their first chance to make a statement since entering the Top 25. A split would accomplish that task. They’ll likely need Dre’una Edwards at full strength to do that. She left the Colorado game with a dislocated right shoulder and did not return.

Up and down weekend for ‘Zona

The Wildcats should take heart in how they hung around with Oregon State. They were mindful of Aleah Goodman and Katie McWilliams at the 3-point line. Taya Corosdale and Destiny Slocum knocked down four apiece, with Slocum getting up 11 3-point attempts.

Meanwhile, somebody for them other than Aari McDonald needs to knock down some shots from the outside. McDonald made two triples in that one; the rest of the team went 0-of-7. Unless McDonald has another parade to the foul line, they lack the scoring upside to compete with the top offenses.

Their follow up performance in Eugene was…something. Satou Sabally accounted for 11 points in transition by herself as the Ducks jumped out to a 26-4 lead in the first.

Beavers outlasted in 2OT

Oregon State has to be seen as a step down from where Oregon and Stanford are at right now. Their offense has not progressed to the point where they can run away from very many people. The Beavers scored 60 in regulation against the Sun Devils. Arizona State will be just fine whenever that’s all they need to muster.

OSU did do a nice job of essentially erasing Courtney Ekmark (1-4 FG, 0-1 3PT) from the game. You could argue the Sun Devils got lucky with Reili Richardson sticking two much-needed 3-pointers off the dribble in the first half as Kianna Ibis started 2-of-10 from the field.

I didn’t love Scott Rueck’s decision to shift Mikayla Pivec onto Ibis. You can understand wanting to mix something up when the opposing team’s best player gets going, but Ibis can and did shoot right over her. Taya Corosdale got nailed by a few cross screens that led to a few wide open short jumpers for Ibis in the second half. Those aren’t entirely on Corosdale if nobody’s calling out those screens ahead of time, and she still has the size and length to provide some resistance or contest face up jumpers.

The other questionable call came at the end of the first overtime when Rueck dialed up a pick and roll for Pivec with Madison Washington. Pivec rejected the screen but Washington didn’t roll to get out of the way, allowing ASU to effectively double team her as she attempted to get off a potential game-winner.

Because it was a tie game, that would have been a good time to isolate Pivec. That’s how she torched Robbi Ryan for a key bucket near the end of regulation. Pivec wasn’t at a quickness disadvantage in that matchup. If she forces the issue and gets to the basket, you have a better chance of drawing a foul or drawing help to free up somebody else.

Then to start the second overtime, Charnea Johnson-Chapman won the tip and ran straight to the front of the rim for an easy layup. Joanna Grymek had entered the game for Washington. Grymek can’t be expected to win a foot race with Johnson-Chapman. Either somebody else needed to help, or OSU could have avoided the potential headache altogether by having Katie McWilliams jump instead.

Props to ASU for a huge win on the road coming off what could have been a deflating almost-had-it kind of game in Eugene. Ibis was a monster in the second half and overtime: three key blocks and perfect from the field.

Melgoza back on track from deep?

They hung tough with Cal. The rest of the Golden Bears have responded accordingly to their 1-3 start and with that, they were too much to slow down in tandem with Kristine Anigwe.

Amber Melgoza has quietly been struggling from beyond the arc. She made three or more triples in three non-conference games but shot 3-of-24 in the other nine. She had missed 15 in a row in her past five conference tilts after shooting 2-of-6 in the Pac-12 opener against Washington State.

It was good to see her taking and making some difficult attempts on Sunday. People still fear her midrange game, which in turn helps her get all the way to the basket. She needs to take the open threes when left open on the catch. Those may be her only chances at relatively easy points on a given night. Until more of her teammates find their stride, it’s too easy for opponents to send extra bodies her way when she tries to create shots off the bounce inside the arc.

Stanford rolling

The Cardinal are playing to the level of a national championship contender in every way possible. They aren’t just beating who they’re supposed to—they’re running them out of the gym from the opening tip. The second weekend in February can’t come soon enough.

Bruins miss chance for USC sweep

There’s no shame in losing to USC. The talent level of that team is not indicative of their 0-5 start in conference play. But the Bruins missed an opportunity to twist the knife. They sloughed too far off Mazyck early. Two catch and shoot 3-pointers from the left corner got her going. That’s the one player on that team that can burn you with a monster scoring night. All five defenders simply have to be more hyper-aware of her location at all times to take those looks away.

Japreece Dean laid an egg (28 minutes, 1-of-6 shooting, six turnovers). Lindsey Corsaro gave them 15 points on six shots, but she and the rest of that team need somebody consistently getting into the teeth of a defense to set them up.

In the Pac-12’s unbalanced schedule, the Los Angeles schools don’t just play the Oregon and Bay Area schools twice. They get them on back-to-back weekends both times. You’re looking at two 0-4 or 1-3 stretches built right into your schedule. Maybe you split those once if everything goes right. I like the top six in the conference as is to make the NCAA Tournament. For UCLA to be the seventh, I think they’ll need to go 5-1 at worst over their next six.

Mazyck back to form

Aliyah Mazyck is all the way back. Sunday’s win over UCLA was the best she’s looked all season. She played all 40 minutes and scored four of her 26 points on some key drives in the fourth as UCLA made a late push.

This trip to the Arizona schools may define their season. If they at least can manage a split, they can’t be ruled out yet. The conference race is quickly taking shape. It’s on USC, UCLA and Arizona to prove with how they finish the season that this conference is as tough as many predicted it would be from top to bottom.

Molina continues to shine

I hate to repeat myself, but WSU’s front line has been getting torched in transition and anytime they’re forced to guard in space. Playing more zone may help, though I can appreciate and understand any team’s commitment to match up and take their lumps.

I really hope we don’t lose sight of the wonderful season Chanelle Molina is having. Logging 38 minutes per game, her true shooting percentage is up to 57. She assists on 29 percent of WSU’s buckets while on the floor. To top it off, she’s shooting 40 percent on nearly five threes per game, many of those coming off the dribble.

Previous editions of the column: Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1