Around the Pac-12: Stanford survives, UCLA bests Oregon State

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 17: Charisma Osborne #20 of the UCLA Bruins drives around Madison Washington #3 of the Oregon State Beavers during overtime at Pauley Pavilion on February 17, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 17: Charisma Osborne #20 of the UCLA Bruins drives around Madison Washington #3 of the Oregon State Beavers during overtime at Pauley Pavilion on February 17, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images) /

Bruins comeback against the Beavers; Colorado nearly upsets Stanford, again

With two weeks remaining, the four teams in line for first-round byes at the Pac-12 women’s basketball conference tournament are Oregon (13-1), Stanford (12-2), UCLA (11-3) and Arizona (10-4). Let’s look back on seven key games from the past weekend ahead of a second clash between Stanford and the Oregon schools.

Oregon State 74, UCLA 83 (OT)

Charisma Osborne set the tone for this matchup with her ball pressure. Destiny Slocum and Aleah Goodman had trouble shaking her as they were forced to get OSU into its sets 30-plus feet from the rim. The person tasked with bringing the ball up the court essentially became ‘whoever Osborne isn’t guarding’ later in the game. The true freshman (22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals) played some of her best basketball on the biggest stage her team has seen to date.

UCLA’s switching (and Taylor Jones’ foul trouble) further complicated things for OSU in the halfcourt. Destiny Slocum returned after appearing to roll her right ankle in the first half. She and Mikayla Pivec had some strong moments attacking one-on-one, but the extra turnovers (24 to 9) left OSU with too much extra work to do.

With Jones, you can get into the merits of a few of those calls but I’d still be far more concerned with what she’s doing to end up in this position: needlessly reaching twice on the glass, one illegal screen and swiping down on Chantel Horvat and Lauryn Miller on postups.

Pivec’s fourth foul was a phantom call. OSU has a fair gripe with that one. I have no idea what the official could have seen there. The overtime snowballed after the fifth. Michaela Onyenwere made both free throws to go up five then stole the inbounds pass. Osborne made a 3-pointer over the zone to make it a three-possession game.

Jones’ third foul was probably the most harmful. OSU led by 14 not four minutes into the third quarter. UCLA’s defense became even tougher to crack without that big paint presence. The Bruins were really cooking when they got 3-pointers in transition from Natalie Chou and Osborne. Kiara Jefferson, out there more for her on-ball defense, added two massive jumpers late in the fourth.

Finally, file this fun action away from the first quarter. Aleah Goodman screens for Pivec and pops out looking for an open triple while Pivec can attack the more favorable matchup if the defense switches.

Stanford 69, Colorado 66

Welcome back, Maya Dodson! This surely qualifies as a pleasant late-season surprise. The junior forward (foot) logged 24 minutes over the weekend. When healthy, she’s right up there with Baylor’s Lauren Cox and South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston as one of the most impactful defensive players in the country around the basket.

Mya Hollingshed did some of her best post-up work to date. Whether it was just the sting of losing in Maples a few weeks ago or the individual matchup with Dodson, it was fun to watch those two players go to work inside.

Jaylyn Sherrod picked up a fourth foul late in the third and was in and out throughout the fourth. She most notably was not on the floor for the fateful sequence at the end, and the Buffs were out of timeouts after Kiana Williams tied the game at 66. And as you could see in other Sherrod-less stretches of games this season, this team doesn’t have another reliable playmaker that can break down the defense and get to the rim at will.

Making matters worse, the Buffs missed 10 free throws. They split two pairs to go up three and had Emme Clarke stepping to the line after Ashten Prechtel missed a 3-pointer. Clarke missed both, setting up the final two makes from Williams.

Williams didn’t celebrate after the first make. She matched up right away and set up that steal with her initial ball denial near midcourt. Once Hollingshed picked up her dribble, Williams jumped to the ball and anticipated that handoff beautifully as Quinessa Caylao-Do came back around.

Oregon State 66, USC 72

Pac-12 Freshman of the Year candidate Alissa Pili tallied 26 points and 13 rebounds as USC upset the Beavers. Aliyah Jeune chipped in three key 3-pointers, and USC turned it over just eight times compared to OSU’s 20.

Two OSU possessions really highlighted their new reality offensively without a proven (Taya Corosdale) or even potential (Kennedy Brown) stretch 4 spacing out looming as a catch-and-shoot threat.

Both sequences ended with turnovers. Decisions will get much tougher for Taylor Jones assessing that defender who now has more freedom to roam.

Those passes used to set up open shots. Opponents would really start to sweat if those shots—you have to live with something—were falling. Now, they can count those kick-outs as a win. OSU essentially resets.

Enter the four-guard lineup. They’ll need to rely on it more to keep the offense flowing. One more consistent perimeter player will help them lean on it for longer stretches. Jasmine Simmons shot 1-of-3 from deep at USC and scored a season-high 11 points at UCLA on Monday. Simmons is the bench player they’ll need to perform to still give them some semblance of lineup flexibility and goose the offense when opposing bigs cog up the lane.

Cal 88, Utah 74

Mary Murphy shined a light on just how hectic and special this weekend was for Cailyn Crocker in this week’s Pac-12 women’s basketball podcast. The freshman guard scored 26 points in her first career start, including several key buckets in the second half after the Utes briefly grabbed a one-point lead.

Lola Pendande put her team behind the eight ball picking up two fouls less than two minutes into the game. The Utes had some brutal moments with their transition defense. The final minutes of the second quarter told the story of the game. These are all things that happened on Utah’s home floor in less than three minutes of game time:

  • Jazlen Green 3-pointer two passes away against some extended 3/4-court pressure after a bucket had cut the deficit to six
  • Slow getting back after a miss, not matched up, Green hits another triple
  • Leilani McIntosh finds Alaysia Styles streaking down the middle of the floor uncontested four seconds after a made basket
  • Beat by Styles backdoor for a layup on Cal’s first possession after a Utah timeout
  • CJ West buries her matchup in the restricted area for an easy turn and score five seconds into the shot clock after a Utah make
  • Utah not matched up, Green gets up another 3-pointer, Evelien Lutje Schipholt cruises in for an uncontested putback
  • A steal-score by Green pushes Cal’s lead to 16

Not a great look for last week’s ‘Utah might play some spoiler’ pick.

Oregon 80, UCLA 66

This one didn’t live up to the Hardwood Classics-worthy battles we’d been spoiled by in recent years. UCLA couldn’t buy a 3-pointer (2-of-23 from deep, 22-of-42 on twos). The scoring struggles inevitably bled into what was happening on the other end.

And Oregon has continued to perform like the machine we thought they would be. Ruthy Hebard led the way with 30 points on 14-of-19 shooting. She scored the first bucket of the game with a fun fake dribble handoff and struck again in the second half starting her drive from behind the 3-point line.

Washington State 59, Arizona State 62

Reili Richardson strikes again.

The senior scored 13 of her 22 points in the fourth quarter, including four straight free throws at the very end to ice it. It really feels like Groundhog Day with these Richardson 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of close games.

Washington 53, Arizona 64

Sam Thomas had 10 stocks (four steals, six blocks) in this game! In searching for a favorite, we have to go with this sequence against Amber Melgoza, the Pac-12’s sixth-leading scorer (17.8 points per game).

Helena Pueyo tied a season-high with four 3-pointers off the bench. Thomas set one up knifing into the lane for a quick paint touch as the team rolled with a four-guard lineup.

The Wildcats will need a game or two like this from Pueyo to make a deep tournament run. Those four-guard lineups can get another shooter on the floor, especially when the Wildcats get zoned, and Thomas is versatile enough to make that work against most teams.

Pueyo’s steal and score early in the fourth started a 9-0 run as Arizona pushed its lead to 19. They now sit at 10-4 in league play and hold pole position for that fourth first-round bye in the conference tournament.

Games to watch

Friday, February 21: Oregon State at Stanford, 11:00 PM ET, Pac-12 Network

Monday, February 24: Oregon at Stanford, 9 PM ET, ESPN2

  • In case you missed it, here’s the previous edition of ‘Around the Pac-12′ on UCLA’s win at Stanford and down-to-the-wire finishes between Oregon State and the Arizonas:

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