ASU knocks off No. 2 and No. 3; UCLA last undefeated still standing
How’s this for a quick rundown of the past week in Pac-12 women’s basketball: The folks in Tucson, myself included, saw Arizona in one-possession games in the final minute against both Oregon State and Oregon, and those weren’t even the most notable outcomes of the weekend!
Oh, and Colorado almost stormed back from a 25-point deficit in the second half to hand UCLA its first loss.
Time for another weekly rundown, starting with two massive wins for the Sun Devils.
Who saw this coming?
Arizona State did it all against the Oregon schools, overcoming a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter against the Ducks and holding off a late push by the then-undefeated Beavers.
Jamie Ruden was the definition of instant offense. The 6’2” senior made the most of her 20-ish minutes. She had the pick and pop jumper working and did damage inside as Oregon resorted to some switching in crunch time.
The second pick and roll gave the Ducks a chance to reset the matchups. Ruden made herself available while keeping Hebard on her back. Oregon needed to play the foul game trailing by one in the closing seconds. Ruden struck on the offensive glass this time after a Robbi Ryan missed free throw.
Enter Reili Richardson. The senior guard made all four of her free throws from that point. Overall, She shot a dazzling 10-for-10 from the charity stripe in the final 1:00 of both games. Richardson, a sub-32 percent 3-point shooter in each collegiate season to date, also drilled two on-the-move triples in that fourth quarter against the Ducks. Ryan added 11 of her team-high 17 points in the period.
Ruden got ASU out in front early on Sunday with a personal 7-0 run. Destiny Slocum picked up a second foul late in the first and spent about seven minutes on the bench. ASU’s physicality and discipline had a heavy hand in both outcomes. Dribble penetration and easy ball reversals came at a premium for both opponents.
Pac-12 Player of the Week Ja’Tavia Tapley paced ASU with a game-high 14 (not a typo) on Sunday, highlighted by a face-up driving score that gave her team a four-point lead under the 2:00 mark—the closest the Beavers would get the rest of the way.
Back screens from OSU’s guards led to two bunnies for Taylor Jones. Tapley, not in the game during those two Jones buckets, broke up a potential third of that ilk intended for Kennedy Brown.
ASU has a winning recipe with its defense, ability to take care of the ball and timely scoring punch from the Ryan-Ruden-Tapley trio. They only shot 34 percent from the field against the Ducks but were plus-12 at the line and plus-10 in the turnover battle. Similar story on Sunday: 37 percent shooting but just nine turnovers. The Beavers went ice cold from distance, shooting 2-for-20 as a team. Kat Tudor and Aleah Goodman went 0-for-12 (0-10 3PT).
Scott Rueck rolled out his four veteran guards around Jones as his team started the second half trailing by 10. A similar setup netted two different results. Goodman drew two coming off a stagger, leaving Slocum open from the corner.
Then Pivec bolted backdoor to draw two moments later and Slocum got into a pull-up inside the arc.
Arizona comes up short, twice, playing short-handed, still
Just as they got Dominique McBryde back, Arizona really missed Helena Pueyo’s length and shooting. Pueyo went down with an ankle injury early on Friday and did not return. The freshman wing was on crutches at practice on Saturday and did not suit up against the Ducks.
Speaking of McBryde’s return, how’s this for a defensive impact?
Oregon State gave Arizona life by turning it over three times in the final 2:20. The Wildcats have to love what they got. Cate Reese earned a trip to the line and got two more good looks around the basket. Aari McDonald’s potential go-ahead 3-pointer with 0:14 remaining swirled in and out.
Mikayla Pivec was the hero Friday night for the Beavers scoring on an up and under from the middle of the lane after turning it over and missing out of the same action on the two prior trips.
Sunday looked much different. Oregon gave Arizona fits with its zone. (They really missed Pueyo.) The Wildcats didn’t wilt when an Erin Boley 3-pointer pushed Oregon’s lead as high as 13 in the third quarter. McDonald had to buoy the offense with 5-of-10 3-point shooting, including some tough ones off the bounce and on the move.
Sabrina Ionescu was surprised postgame to learn that she had recorded another triple-double. Here are two of her assists worth a second (or third, or fourth) look.
Right as Sam Thomas creeps over to set up shop in the middle of the lane, Ionescu fires a bullet that hits Satou Sabally right in the hands.
This time Ionsecu works the baseline. Everything is still for a split-second. Where’s this pass headed? Same result—an absolute strike setting up a Jaz Shelley triple.
Arizona got within three two different times in the final 1:30. Minyon Moore had the first answer driving in for a layup after spending nearly nine minutes of game time on the bench.
There was an eight-second differential coming out of a timeout after a pair of free throws from Thomas. Oregon successfully inbounded the ball. Amari Carter fouled Ionescu with 0:20 on the game clock. Adia Barnes addressed the decision postgame.
“We didn’t have a whole lot of time, and we weren’t able to get stops,” she said. “[McDonald] couldn’t be on the ball; [she] had four fouls. We were going to try to go for a steal, but I felt we had to. I wasn’t confident we would get a stop, or would give up an offensive rebound or a three.”
Arizona should prepare for next weekend with their heads held high. They put themselves in a position to beat two top-five opponents as one starter returned from injury and their top reserve went down. But they won’t be satisfied with a mere NCAA Tournament appearance this season. They expect to make some noise.
Good news. They have a few big swings left to take as they host ASU and UCLA later this month, travel to Oregon in February and host Stanford in the final weekend of the regular season.
UCLA remains undefeated; Utah gets a win over USC; Colorado almost storms back
Only one team could emerge from USC-Utah with its first Pac-12 victory. The Utes got a season-high 12 points from Kemery Martin, and Daneesha Provo poured in a game-high 17 off the bench. Provo hit the go-ahead triple with 2:30 to play. Dru Gylten set Provo up for another moments earlier with a great off-hand skip pass:
Gylten appeared to dial her aggressiveness up a notch by taking some deep 3-pointers without hesitation. Related: Desiree Caldwell had a big day behind the arc (4-of-7) that USC would love to look back on as a breakthrough by season’s end.
USC held possession with seven seconds to play trailing by two. The call included a flare screen for Aliyah Jeune. Caldwell’s attempt in the lane rimmed out, and Lola Pendande secured the rebound and the win for the Utes.
Colorado pulled away from USC on Friday with a big third quarter led by some of the usual suspects: Jaylyn Sherrod pushing it in transition and Emma Clarke knocking down shots. Aubrey Knight also tacked on a pair of 3-pointers late in the third to help the Buffs separate.
Colorado cycled through the two primary options in this Clarke-Mya Hollingshed action. Clarke will set a screen for Hollingshed at an elbow looking to get the junior a catch on the move or a deep post touch.
If Clarke’s defender stops to bump Hollingshed, Clarke is jetting to the top of the key off a screen for an open triple.
UCLA completely throttled the Utes in the fourth quarter en route to a 30-point road win. Utah fell apart with three turnovers in the final two minutes of the third. A one-point lead had become a seven-point deficit just like that. The Utes couldn’t stop the bleeding from there and trailed by 14 after three more turnovers in the first two minutes of the fourth.
Charisma Osborne was very aggressive with her 3-pointer over the weekend and shot 8-for-15 in total. UCLA now stands at 32 percent from deep as a team on about 22 attempts per game.
UCLA-Colorado was quite an experience. Knowing the final score as I watched the game on my DVR, I assumed that there must have been a mistake. How on earth did Colorado get back into this game?
Time kept running off the clock, and UCLA’s lead kept growing. Hollingshed came up with a big one-on-three stop. “Surely, this must be the turning point,” I told myself.
As UCLA shot 8-for-11 from deep in the middle two quarters, Colorado looked like they had completely fallen apart with some truly atrocious turnovers.
The Buffs showed some signs of life late in the third as they scored 11 points in a four-possession string. The 22-point deficit had been cut to 14.
Potentially adding to Colorado’s hope: Lauryn Miller inexplicably fouled out of the game late in the third! She picked up fouls three, four and five in a span of about 45 seconds. Meanwhile, Hollingshed successfully navigated the final 7:02 playing with four fouls.
Fast-forward to the 7:00 mark in the fourth. UCLA leads 62-45. Colorado went on to close the game on a 17-3 run—and lose!
Naturally, UCLA’s offensive rebounding had a big say in this outcome. The Bruins secured three of ‘em on the same trip with less than a minute to play leading by two, with the fourth being somewhat controversial. Quinessa Caylao-Do appeared to get hacked by Michaela Onyenwere before the ball went out of bounds. No call, UCLA ball.
The Buffs had to foul and Japreece Dean made one of two free throws. Colorado needed a three to tie. Charisma Osborne jammed the Emma Clarke ‘elevator’:
This past weekend will be remembered for the upsets in Tempe, but this second half was one of the stranger 20 minutes of basketball we’ll see all season. A win’s a win for UCLA—the last Division I unbeaten remaining.
WSU earns split with UW
Another rough fourth quarter for the Huskies. Washington State secured a regular-season split after outscoring UW 29-17 after entering the final period trailing by five.
UW has to cringe at how Chanelle Molina got most of her 14 points after going scoreless in the first half—a three-point play on a runout after a UW player tried to save a potential offensive rebound, an easy skip over their zone to a catch and shoot 3-pointer and another spot-up triple from the same spot due to a miscommunication.
This one might hurt the most:
WSU is going to try to get Molina a look from deep running out to the ball-side corner nearly every chance they get. UW’s designated assistant must have failed to bang on the trash can that time.
Then to essentially put this game on ice, Molina served up a reminder of just how good her in-between game has become.
Missy Peterson glued herself to Borislava Hristova. Mai-Loni Henson is ready to help on the drive, and Haley Van Dyke is ready to pounce on a feed to a rolling Jovana Subasic. The Huskies did a lot right and it still didn’t matter.
Hristova did her part to help out on the margins, scoring on two putback attempts and attacking one-on-one to score at the end of the second and third quarters. WSU even got some shooting from its supporting cast. Subasic and Johanna Muzet each made two 3-pointers off the bench. Note the nature of the two makes from Subasic. Her defender is sitting in the gap to deter drives from Hristova and Molina.
Subasic is now shooting 15-of-34 from deep this season. She made multiple 3-pointers in a game just once in 11 games in 2017-18 and twice in 29 games last season. The 6’4” forward has done so four times through 16 games this season, trending in the right direction for a team that has sorely needed that kind of presence.
Let’s wrap with a few fun looks from UW to get Amber Melgoza going downhill. Watch Muzet’s reaction to Quay Miller.
Miller didn’t make any effort to set a real screen on Muzet, likely by design. That ‘ghost’ screen gives Melgoza the sliver of daylight she needs to get going toward her strong hand.
Now here’s an actual ball screen from Miller as UW sets up some ‘Spain’ action with Van Dyke looking to pop out for a spot-up triple.
Battle of the Bay
The Cardinal made quick work of the Golden Bears on Friday then took a seven-point lead into the break on Sunday at Haas Pavillion. Ashten Prechtel drilled three 3-pointers in less than 2:30 of game time as Stanford added to its lead in the third quarter. The 6’5” freshman scored 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting in 24 minutes over the weekend.
With Maya Dodson (foot) yet to debut this season, expect some combination of Prechtel and Alyssa Jerome off the bench and Haley Jones sliding up to the 4 to fill minutes up front behind starters Nadia Fingall and Fran Belibi this weekend in Oregon.
Cal freshman forward Evelien Lutje Schipholt tallied a season-high of four blocks in 20 minutes on Sunday. She stayed straight up to erase a layup attempt after getting face cut by Jerome in the first.
Lutje Schipholt then got the best of Jones one-on-one in transition:
Perhaps with that swat in mind, Jones dropped it off to Fingall in a two-on-one break. Watch Lujte Schipholt’s eyes as she makes a clean play on Fingall’s layup attempt and keep the ball inbounds.
Next week’s appointment viewing
Stanford at Oregon (Jan. 16, 9 PM ET, ESPN)
Stanford at Oregon State (Jan. 18, 3 PM ET, Pac-12 Network)
- In case you missed it, here’s the previous edition of ‘Around the Pac-12’ on the first full weekend of Pac-12 league play, including UCLA sweeping the Arizona schools:
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