Around the Pac-12: Stanford in Oregon, USC upsets UCLA

LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 14: Sabrina Ionescu #20 of the Oregon Ducks moves the ball up the court in the fourth quarter against Long Beach State at Walter Pyramid on December 14, 2019 in Long Beach, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 14: Sabrina Ionescu #20 of the Oregon Ducks moves the ball up the court in the fourth quarter against Long Beach State at Walter Pyramid on December 14, 2019 in Long Beach, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images) /

Oregon throttles Stanford, down goes UCLA, Arizonas sweep in Washington, Cardinal bounce back in Corvallis

Civil war week is upon us. Before Oregon and Oregon State square off in two top-10 showdowns, here’s your regularly scheduled look back at another riveting weekend in the world of Pac-12 women’s basketball.

You know who

A note on those 37 points on 14-of-26 shooting for Sabrina Ionescu: She went 8-for-13 on jump shots off the dribble. So many opponents can’t even get to the point where they’re able to stay solid everywhere else and more-less force Ionescu to make tough shots to beat them.

The best player in the country rose to the occasion and made sure to pour it on late in the third to put the Cardinal away for good.

It will be tough not to draw parallels to last season for Stanford. They’ll strive to play at a much higher level later in the season after getting housed by the Ducks. Depending on how the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournament brackets shake out, one or two more of these matchups on top of Oregon’s trip to the Bay Area next month are well within the realm of possibility.

Cardinal win in Corvallis

Stanford took another haymaker Sunday afternoon as Destiny Slocum went for 21 in the first half, and the Cardinal fell in an 11-point hole in the first quarter. Slocum had it working from everywhere, scoring over Lacie Hull on the opening possession, getting all the way to the rim and drilling pull-up 2s and 3s in pick and roll.

Tied at 52 with 5:00 remaining, Sunday’s game at Gill was going to whoever made more plays down the stretch. Kiana Williams and Lacie Hull 3-pointers bookended Slocum’s third triple of the afternoon. Mikayla Pivec and Slocum missed solid looks to tie it, setting up one of the most critical and controversial possessions of the entire weekend.

Stanford essentially held possession for a full 90 seconds and came up empty after getting a whopping seven chances to score. It all started with Kat Tudor recovering to erase a sure-thing layup for Williams. Three offensive rebounds, a timeout and three misses later, Pivec secured a defensive rebound.

Cue the boo birds.

Pivec got whistled for an offensive foul trying to get around Ashten Prechtel. (That was a fascinating matchup late as OSU went small and Stanford stayed big.) After only getting a chance to review the main broadcast angle, some acting on Prechtel’s part was definitely involved.

I don’t think an objective viewer can watch that sequence and claim Pivec’s swim to get by Prechtel was executed with so much force to have knocked the 6’5” forward to the ground. Pivec had already outletted the ball; Prechtel was in Pivec’s jersey as she simply turned to change ends of the court.

Remember, Stanford got three more chances and came away with nothing. Lacie Hull poked the ball away from Tudor on OSU’s next trip and forced a tie up with the arrow in Stanford’s favor. Williams ate some clock, missed a jumper and Lexie Hull missed a putback.

Stanford has whiffed on 11 chances to add to a narrow lead by this point. OSU would inbound near midcourt coming out of a timeout with 22.6 seconds remaining trailing by three.

Slocum spun by Hull and missed a layup. Williams was fouled and sunk both free throws. Then Lacie Hull fouled Tudor on a 3-pointer—another moment tacked onto a minutes-long string of ‘em making it so easy to believe this could end in heartbreak for the Cardinal and that they’d go home empty-handed after this January trip to Oregon.

Tudor made all three. Williams split her next pair and gave a foul to send Slocum to the line over giving OSU a chance to tie the game with a 3-pointer.

Slocum missed both but Stanford failed to secure the rebound! One last chance. OSU looked to run Aleah Goodman and Tudor off some screens to get an open 3-pointer. Tudor’s heave missed long.

The Cardinal hung on for a tough road win and weekend split in Oregon, but they’ll be praying for some far more important news later this week. An already short-handed team playing without DiJonai Carrington (knee) or Maya Dodson (foot) saw Alyssa Jerome exit in the first half after a hard fall. Standout freshman forward Haley Jones went down with a knee injury in the third and did not return. (Note: no official word on Jones’ MRI as of Tuesday evening.)

Podcasts on both Stanford-Oregon and Stanford-Oregon State are live for High Post Hoops Patreon subscribers. 

Utes catch fire on the road

Utah was due for a big shooting day. The Utes sure got one from Daneesha Provo, Brynna Maxwell and Kiana Moore. That trio shot 14-of-19 from distance as the Utes earned a regular-season split with Colorado. And speaking of those three names, Utah did roll out some four-guard lineups that posed some interesting questions for both sides.

The Buffs are still a little short-handed up front without the injured Charlotte Whittaker. Those Utah lineups did give Mya Hollingshed some chances to post up a much smaller player, but Utah’s shooting won the day while outweighing the damage one-woman wrecking crew Jaylyn Sherrod was able to do in transition.

Hollingshed exited near the middle of the fourth and didn’t get back until the 2:21 mark. A seven-point Utah lead had doubled. Colorado scored twice in that five-possession span as Utah pieced together a longer run of eight scores in 10 possessions.

Provo had a bit of an ‘I’m back’ game last weekend against USC with 17 points in 24 minutes. Finding time for some four-guard lineups makes sense with this roster. They have (at least) four starting-caliber players with Maxwell, Provo and Moore on the wings next to starting point guard Dru Gylten. Those four around freshman big Lola Pendande might be Utah’s best group right now. We’ll learn some more about both mountain schools over the weekend as they host Stanford.

Arizonas sweep

Arizona bounced back from two oh-so-close losses to the Oregon schools, and ASU made sure voters and pundits wouldn’t get a chance to discount their massive upset wins by taking care of business on the road.

This pod of games had three ‘Game of the Week’ contenders in a ‘normal’ week. Don’t let Sabrina curb-stomping Stanford, USC beating UCLA in double overtime and Stanford winning at Oregon State completely overshadow the following:

  • Washington State nearly completing an 18-point fourth quarter comeback Friday against Arizona
  • ASU winning at WSU after trailing by 10 late in the third
  • Arizona beating Washington on Sunday after trailing by 19 at the end of the first quarter

This past weekend deserved a #ThisLeague or two. I’ve seen it shouted from the rooftops for things far less interesting.

Ja’Tavia Tapley has emerged as a really tough cover. The grad transfer was a handful rolling to the rim against WSU and even unleashed a few mean stepback jumpers.

Reili Richardson tacked four more clutch-time free throws onto her streak dating back to the wins over Oregon and Oregon State and hit three jumpers early in the fourth at WSU after going scoreless in the first three quarters.

It’s easy to feel for the Washington schools after Sunday. Both teams started those games putting themselves on a track to secure a big win. ASU’s offensive rebounding, which set up four of their nine fourth-quarter scores, and 11-of-32 shooting from Chanelle Molina and Borislava Hristova was too much for WSU to overcome on Sunday. Ula Motuga and Molina chipped in two big defensive plays in the closing moments. ASU’s Richardson-Tapley-Robbi Ryan senior trio made more plays when their team needed it most.

Motuga is 0-for-11 from deep in her last three but is trending in the right direction with her aggression off the bounce. The sophomore forward cashed in with some straight-line drives over the weekend. WSU missed junior wing Johanna Muzet, who got absolutely crushed by a Cate Reese screen late in Friday’s game and did not play on Sunday.

UW got outscored by 27 the rest of the way after leading 27-8 after one against the Wildcats. Arizona turned it over nine times in the opening period; UW committed 18 turnovers after jumping out to that big lead.

According to my proprietary, in-house metrics, Aari McDonald delivered an above-average helping of wow moments per minute on Sunday after leaving some points on the board at WSU.

The Huskies ran into a familiar problem in trying to close out Arizona. They couldn’t make shots. Amber Melgoza made two of her three 3-point attempts. The rest of the team shot 1-for-13.

Haley Van Dyke is piecing together a solid sophomore campaign. Her 4-0 spurt in the fourth kept UW alive while Melgoza sat with four fouls. UW trailed by five with 2:15 to go and got three chances to make it a one-possession game.

Helena Pueyo flashed some nice craft in the fourth with two drives to the rim against UW’s zone. Keep an eye on the offensive weapon Arizona missed so dearly against the Oregon schools and how that extra threat can open up the floor for McDonald against high-level competition.

Cal drops to 0-6

There’s one important distinction to make with Cal’s losses in Oregon.

Friday’s date with Oregon State went sideways as Leilani McIntosh sat with two fouls and Jaelyn Brown sat with three. McIntosh, their most reliable source of any kind of dribble penetration, sat for nearly 13 minutes and returned to a 13-point deficit. Brown picked up her third at the 5:48 mark of the second and the Beavers closed the half on a 13-2 run.

Jazlen Green drew the start on the wing Sunday in Eugene and shot 4-of-10 from deep including a few impressive on-the-move makes. Green has now made multiple 3-pointers in six of 15 games to date and has attempted five or more eight times. The freshman ranks sixth in the conference in 3-point makes and fifth in attempts according to Her Hoop Stats.

USC stuns UCLA in 2OT

Let’s not sugar-coat this one. Michaela Onyenwere (ankle) did not play, and any team taking the floor without its best player has to be viewed through a different lens.

This was still a game UCLA should have won. Tip your cap to Aliyah Jeune who led the way for the Women of Troy with 27 points and 13 rebounds. The fourth quarter and overtime periods were must-see television.

The Bruins pulled ahead by five in the fourth then six in double overtime. Those are points at which the favorite is expected to get to the finish line. Japreece Dean shot 1-for-9 in the fourth and the Bruins missed their last eight 3-pointers of the period.

The final 15 minutes included so many moments worth highlighting.

  • Dean took a charge in the closing seconds as USC had a chance to win it in regulation.
    Jeune hit a 3-pointer with 19 seconds remaining in overtime after a wild scramble for a loose ball
  • Dean then went the length of the floor with about six seconds remaining and UCLA trailing by three to deliver a cross-court strike to Natalie Chou for a 3-pointer at the horn to send the game to double OT
  • USC roared back with a 7-0 run after UCLA took that six-point lead in 2OT. Jeune darted out to a wing and drilled a tough 3-pointer then had the go-ahead steal and score moments later
  • Alissa Pili converted a three-point play, her second post score of 2OT, after a Dean pull-up jumper, this time putting USC ahead for good
  • Chou got another look from the corner out of some ‘Hammer’ action but missed, then Kayla Overbeck missed two free throws giving UCLA a chance to tie or win with a 3-pointer!
  • Endyia Rogers was ready for that ‘Hammer’ action the next time down, and Chantel Horvat’s driving layup was too strong off glass

Credit USC for making enough plays to pull this one out. Now they get to hit the recruiting trail saying they handed the last undefeated team its first loss of the season. That sells.

UCLA’s favorable draw with this season’s schedule ultimately comes down to their ability to take care of business when they’re favorites. Even one resume-building win against Oregon, OSU or Stanford isn’t a given. I wouldn’t expect them to be a betting favorite in any of those three contests. We’ll see down the line how much this loss affects the regular-season standings and beyond.

Next week’s appointment viewing

Oregon State at Oregon (Jan. 24, 10 PM ET, Pac-12 Network)

Oregon at Oregon State (Jan. 26, 4 PM ET, ESPN2)

  • In case you missed it, here’s the previous edition of ‘Around the Pac-12′, starting with Arizona State’s wins over Oregon State and Oregon:

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