COUGS WIN: This one is simple, WSU made it shots, played aggressive defense and USC never recovered. The third-seeded Trojans lost 69-55 on their home court to the 11th seeded WSU. The Cougs advance to the semifinal for the first time in school history, playing second-seeded California at 2:30 p.m. at Staples Center. USC shot an anemic 26.2 percent, led by senior Briana Gilbreath’s 17 points and 10 rebounds. Corral was 2-for-7 for five points and four boards. WSU had 15 assists on 25 made field goals, led by Cook’s 14 points. Senior PG Rosetta Adzasu had a second consecutive impressive game, orchestrating seven of those Cougs assists. Overall, WSU shot 44.6 percent from the field. It also scored 22 points off 17 USC miscues. The Trojans NCAA bubble surely burst. Prognosticators didn’t have them in, anyway, and a loss like this doesn’t read well. In their defense, the Trojans were on a six-game win streak with an injured roster and due to drop one. Selection Monday is set for 4 p.m. PST on ESPN, tune in to see what happens on their side. I’ll be back Friday for the Cougs game. Odd, because when I booked the flight a few weeks ago, I was thinking UW could pull this kind of upset. Welcome to March Madness.
BALL GAME: Coop and Daugherty have pulled most of their seniors so they can get a round of applause from the crowd, WSU of course a more spirited cheer. Perkins is still on the court, WSU up 69-55.
NOYES OUT: Junior C Carly Noyes committed her fifth foul and is out of them. The Cougs still have enough cushion to keep the win. After two FTs from Cook, Washington State is ahead 67-53 with 1:50 left in the game.
THREE MISSES: USC had three offensive rebounds right under the hoop and could not connect. It’s one of those games at the most inopportune time for the Trojans. You shouldn’t be surprised at WSU, though. They played a tough schedule to start the season and are starting to build a groove after two key injuries to its starting lineup. Cougs lead 62-49, Perkins has 12 and Tarnowski added 11. There’s just 3:47 remaining before the biggest upset of the tournament is in the books.
RALLY?: The Trojans are getting some shots to drop and are getting a glare in their eye that says they’re not giving in to the Cougs. Daugherty sensed a little shift in momentum and called time, out of it sophomore Sage Romberg sank a three-pointer. The Cougs lead 51-39. WSU is shooting 9-for-18 from three-point range while USC is still shooting poorly overall, uh, improving to 24 percent.
TIME!: USC coach Michael Cooper was acting like this nightmare would pass. But with every WSU three-pointer, his team’s thin NCAA tournament hopes are getting more faint. Sophomore Brandi Thomas is the latest to score one off a Perkins assist and WSU is up 42-32.
CROOKED: USC freshman Ariya Crook was called with an intentional foul, attacking Perkins a little too hard on a fast break layin off Crook’s errant pass. Perkins made the freebies and WSU is up 39-32 with 14:27 on the clock.
ALL DAY: Perkins showing off her defensive skills, picking off USC for a layin to keep building that lead. WSU up 35-27. USC shooting 20.5 percent from the field. Galen Center is shocked. Should mention that WSU lost to USC 65-54 to end the regular-season. WSU shot 33.9 percent from the field.
PERKINS RETURNS: Perkins is back to start the second half. It’s beginning much the same way the first half ended. USC is missing some usually easy shots and WSU is finding the three-point bucket. Cougs up 33-27 with 17:54 left.
HALFTIME: Butch the Coug is the only thing that can stop the women’s team. Swing a massive WSU flag, he nearly beheaded assistant coach Mo Hines and took out head coach June Daugherty and her husband Mike. They chuckled because everything else is going their way to start their second-round tournament game at Galen Center. Cook swiped the ball from USC senior Ashley Corral (Prairie HS) for a breakaway layin with 28 seconds left, capping a 30-25 half. The Cougs have scored 17 points off USC miscues alone. USC is outrebounding WSU 27-16, but shooting 24.2 percent from the field. Obviously USC has to take better care of the ball and hit some shots if it hopes to keep its six-game win streak going. WSU needs to stay hot and aggressive and they’re headed to the big show at Staples Center. Goodness knows their cheer squad is ready for the big leagues with the halftime show they just performed to LMFAO. Somebody just talk to Butch.
FOR THREE!: WSU senior April Cook and Rosie Tarnowski both nailed three-pointers to push the lead to 25-20 with 2:48 on the clock. The Cougs’ streak shooting and scrappy play is why I figured they could pull a second upset. Looks like the mojo the team had to start the season has returned.
PERKINS OUT: Perkins fell hard on the court and is being tended to on the bench. WSU is still holding onto a 19-18 lead with 4:45 left.
A FIRST: By the way, this is WSU’s first second-round game in the short history of the Pac-12 tournament. The Cougs upset Oregon State on Wednesday to advance.
PASTRY CHEFS: The Trojans are opening up a turnover shop, getting tagged for three consecutive as they’re muffled by WSU’s defense. Cougs senior Jazmine Perkins nailed a three-pointer to put her team up 19-16 with 5:52 remaining in the first half.
HANDS UP: WSU is still shooting well and even with USC’s rebounding to lead 14-13 with 9:44 left in the first half. It’s a fast-pace game and there’s a decent crowd livening up the atmosphere. I just wish they’d turn off the AC. The UW fans I’m spotting around the building are bundled like its a football game at Husky Stadium in November.
COUGS LEAD: Washington State is up 7-6 early.
CAL WINS: Lappe finally stopped the madness with 14 seconds remaining, calling for her team not to foul. As it was, Cal made nine of 10 FTs in the waning minute to win 68-59 at Galen Center. The Bears advance to the semifinal round on Friday at 2:15 p.m. at Staples Center. Cal plays the winner of the Washington State-Southern California game that tips at 7 p.m. Four players finished in double figures scoring for Cal. Wilson led the Buffs with 18 points.
MISSED CHANCE: Colorado freshman Lexy Kresl has struggled, going 1-for-10 against Cal. She had an open look at a three-pointer that could have closed the gap to three points, but missed with 2:53 left in the game. There’s a timeout on the floor and Cal is up 57-51.
SHOTS, SHOTS, SHOTS: Offense has returned and Cal is up 55-48, but it still feels like a grudge match with bodies constantly tumbling to the floor. Cal is shooting 37.3 percent from the field and Colorado 32.7.
FROZEN: Cal is using its defense to stave off a shooting chill. Caldwell had another nice block and defensive rebound to keep the Bears up 46-38 with 9:14 left in the game.
OVERHEARD: The matchup of Lappe and Lindsay Gottlieb is the youngest of the tournament for a total of 65 years. Lappe is 31.
BOARD PLAY: The Buffs are definitely rebounding better this half. Cal is one of the top rebounding programs in the nation, however, and the 25-21 advantage is continuing keeping a 43-33 lead even though the scoring has gone a little cold here. Cal is getting outworked 6-2.
ROLLING: Cal is back in control of the game, up 42-33 early in the second half.
NICE FINISH: The Buffs, which brought a nice student cheering section, nailed four three-pointers in the final four minutes of the opening half to close within 35-27 at the break. Cal star Layshia Clarendon sank a spinning jumper in the paint and a jumper with one second left to keep Colorado from completely clawing out of its early hole. The Buffs are shooting 37.5 percent and are still getting killed on the boards 23-14. Wilson is leading the Buffs with 11 points, making 3-for-3 three-pointers. Cal’s offense is spread out, Clarendon leading with eight points. Caldwell has six rebounds and Brandon has two recorded blocks. Bet she made CU think twice about 10 other attempts, though. Both teams could use more umph in defense to pull out the win. The Buffs need to limit the second-chance shots it’s giving up.
FOR THREE: Brittany Wilson nailed a three-pointer and the Buffs appear to waking up offensively. They trail 29-18 with three minutes left in the opening half.
NO DEFENSE: Cal is on a mission and Colorado can’t defend it. The Bears are up 27-11 after a jumper by Gennifer Brandon. Teammate Lindsay Sherbert leads all scorers with seven.
NEW GIG?: I’ve been wondering where Wally Szczerbiak was lately, seeing him a few times for college broadcasting segments. I nearly flipped when I spotted the promotion’s announcer at Galen Center, thinking he was the former Sonic. (Cedric Ceballos did used to do the same hokey stuff during Mercury timeouts). Anyway, it’s not Szczerbiak, but I swear he’s a dead ringer. Cal is up 13-7 with 11:38 on the clock.
TIME: And now it’s 10-0 Cal with 16:52 left in the first half. Colorado coach Linda Lappe called time to discuss and I can hear her over the Cal band. Despite shooting 50 percent from the field, the Bears are also winning the boards 5-1 to limit the Buff to two attempts.
BEARS LEAD: Cal is up 4-0 with 18:14 remaining in the opening half. Leslie presented the game ball and was presented an award by the conference. It wasn’t clear what for, aside from her being a legend, and she said she could read it.
HOLLA: Said a brief hello to Charmin Smith, the former Storm original who’s now an assistant coach at California. She’s still loving the gig, hopeful the Bears break into the NCAA tournament. California is tipping off against Colorado now.
QUOTE ME: “My face was just where her elbow was,” Nneka on her bloody nose from Rogers. “I don’t think she was trying to flagrant foul me. She was just being aggressive and made her move. She’s not easy to guard and she’s very efficient. It’s always great have other posts because it’s a challenge. Scoring on the block today wasn’t as easy as it usually is. It prepares for the games coming up because it’s not going to be handed to us from here on out.”
SPOTTED: The luminaries are starting to show at the Galen Center. Los Angeles co-owner and legend Lisa Leslie is behind me on press row along with Ann Meyers-Drysdale, the Phoenix Mercury’s new vice president. But the crowd is still sparse. Both McGuff and VanDerveer were asked about the tournament relocating. Even though word is the women’s version will move to KeyArena, discussions are happening this week and I’m told there’s no timetable for an announcement. “You look at some of the plays that Nneka made or Toni and we want people to see the great players that we have,” VanDerveer said. “There will be a change made, but for us on the court and for us on the bench, it didn’t matter. I’m in to it the same way whether there’s one person in the stands or 100,000…but we are trying to grow our sport.” Also spotted is Atlanta Dream assistant coach Freddy “Bass” Williams.
ASU ADVANCES: Back from writing the newspaper version of the UW-Stanford game. I was trying to make it good. On the court while I was writing, Arizona made a slew of mistakes to lose 68-53 to ASU. The Wildcats allowed 21 points off 17 turnovers and that’s the ball game. Kimberly Brandon led the Sun Devils with 15 points and six rebounds. Kali Bennett, who had this wicked football pass a teammate easily scored off, finished with 10 points, five assists and four blocks for the best game I’ve seen her play. Perhaps I should have put her on my All-Pac-12 media team. But contrary to what east coast media thinks, their are ballers in this league. Anyway, ASU will play Stanford at noon on Friday in the semifinal round on Friday. That game will be televised, another chance to display the Pac-12 game. Whyte led the Wildcats with 17 points and committed a team-high five turnovers.
DEVILISH: Arizona State is up 36-20 on Arizona, looking to make it a three-game sweep of the bitter rival this season. The Sun Devils are shooting 56 percent from the field, getting 13 points off the bench from Jada Blackwell (eight) and Janae Fulcher (five). G Davellyn Whyte is leading the Wildcats with eight points, but her team is shooting 36 percent and getting outrebounded 19-11. Winner plays Stanford on Thursday at noon at Staples Center.
HUSKIES LOSE: “We’re all going back to Seattle” was the final sound Washington made in the corridor of the Galen Center on Thursday. The Huskies lost 76-57 to Stanford and watched the men lose 86-84 to Oregon State at Staples Center. Only the men, seeded No. 1, weren’t supposed to lose. Postgame, UW’s women spoke about its costly glitches and inability to shoot. VanDerveer said Davis was a focus and the freshmen shot 2-for-18 from the field, finishing with eight points. “They really forced us into a lot of tough shots,” McGuff said. “They prepare really well and work hard at taking you out of the actions you want to run. They’ve got tremendous length and they tip a lot of balls and they play really hard.” Stanford was nearly perfect, shooting 49.2 percent from the field in the game. Nneka led, finishing with 18 points in 25 minutes. Chiney finished with a double-double in 16 points and 11 rebounds. She had six boards in the second half as the Cardinal outrebounded the Huskies 22-14 after the break. Fitting the seniors led UW with 12 points apiece from Argens, Williams, and Rogers. Barlow had two. But while it’s their finale in the Pac-12 tournament, they weren’t sad. “Hopefully today wasn’t our last game,” said Argens, whose team should advance to the WNIT. “In the back of my head, it is the last game, but I’m definitely looking forward to the WNIT and I’m looking forward to Monday (selection show).”
BREAK TIME: Leaving the blog to write the newspaper version. I’ll be back with an update from interviews and then I’ll jump into highlights from the other games. UW is down 60-37 after a three-pointer by Lindy La Rocque.
SHOVEL’S OUT: Like I said, Stanford isn’t going to give up rebounds in two halves and the Cardinal is gobbling them up to start a speedy transition game. Samuelson is hitting threes, Nneka is draining jumpers in Rogers’ face and the shovel is out, Washington is getting buried behind a 54-33 deficit.
NO REPLAY: Davis isn’t on fire like the tourney first round. She’s also not getting the same looks from a soft zone versus Stanford’s hounding man-to-man. UW is down 43-30 with 14:30 on the clock. Davis is shooting 2-for-10 from the field.
HIGHLIGHT: You know those plays grandpa talks about forever, regardless of whether he won, it’s just that he pulled a fast one on someone great? Well, Rogers and Argens had three in a row. First was Rogers nice block on Nneka, which VanDerveer of course wanted a foul called. Then Argens covered Chiney well, collecting a rebound and then scoring on the younger Ogwumike sister. It doesn’t make much difference in the score, UW is down 43-28 with 16:26 left in the game. But it’s a clip that needs to be added to the players’ highlight reel.
HALFTIME: I don’t think I’ve seen a game morph into a blowout that fast. UW was within five with 3:51 left in the half, then the Cardinal zipped through a 11-3 run to close ahead 37-24. The Huskies are unable to hit buckets, shooting 25.8 percent from the field in the opening half. The team is outrebounding Stanford 22-17, but, again, only getting nine points off those extra boards. Boards you know Stanford isn’t going to give up after the break. Nneka is pulling out her standard “How’d she do that” moves, scoring six of her team’s closing 11 points. She leads everyone with 14 in the half. Mo-Will has seven to pace Washington. Rogers was limited to 13 minutes, but the good news is she has four shot attempts. That’s what she had in a full game in the last meeting. Perhaps if she can remain on the court things will be different in the second half?
SEEING RED: VanDerveer is getting into her team and they seem to be upset at some of their, uh, mistakes, too, going on a short 9-1 run to build a 33-22 lead with 2:14 left in the half. After Bonnie “all I do is shoot threes” Samuelson made her first of the game, McGuff called for time.
ROGERS SITS: Rogers was tagged with her second foul, Nneka finally drawing the charge she’s wanted all afternoon. Mo-Will continues to be hot, though, nailing a smooth jumper to make the deficit 26-12 with 3:36 left in the half.
WORKING IT: Stanford is huffing and puffing cause UW is blowing their house down. OK, we won’t go that far, but the Cardinal’s 22-17 lead isn’t an easy one. UW is leading the rebounding battle 14-11 and has only committed five turnovers.
BACKUP: Mollie Williams and Aminah Williams (unrelated) are giving UW some good minutes off the bench, again. Mo-Will had a three-pointer while A-Dub drew a foul, making one of the ensuing FTs to re-ignite the Huskies. UW is down 20-15 with 9:03 left in the first half.
TIME: Mismatches and mistakes are causing the game to slip away. Stanford is up 17-11 with 11:30 left in the game. Rogers was on the bench, which put Wetmore on Nneka at one point. With her back in the game, she’s draw another foul — a positive — but Stanford is shooting 66.7 percent from the field, taking full advantage of its size and talent.
OGWUMIKE RETURNS: Nneka is back, UW getting an open Davis bucket while she was gone. Add two FTs by Rogers off a foul from Kokenis and UW is within 12-11 with 13:06 left in the opening half.
BLOODY NOSE: Getting the ball inside works for UW when they can do it. Argens did so with a nice bounce pass that Rogers whipped around for a score. She also took out Nneka, who is on the bench tending to a bloody nose. I’m sure there’s no bounty on it like the New Orleans Saints, but UW better take advantage if Nneka remains out of the game for any stint. There’s 15:23 on the clock and the Dawgs came to play, down 10-7.
TRIPLE DIP: Stanford sent three players at Rogers when she did get possession of the ball, resulting in a jump ball that Barlow couldn’t in-bound. Davis missed a pair of FTs later and UW is now down 8-5 with 16:02 left in the game as the Cardinal appears to be heating up.
HUSKIES LEAD: Washington took the first lead of the game off a three-pointer by Davis (two more and she has the school’s frosh record). UW up 5-4 with 17:58 on the clock.
We’re going to do the blog a little differently Thursday, we’re going to keep a live blog going for all four games, beginning with eighth-seeded Washington’s matchup with No. 1 seed Stanford at noon.
Spoke to my Dad about this matchup and how a coach like UW’s Kevin McGuff might prepare. Pops won the Sun Belt Conference tournament in 2000, advancing to play Tennessee. With the 24-hour turnaround format, he said, “It’s all about getting yourself ready. You can’t focus too much on Stanford.”
McGuff has plenty of experience playing the Cardinal, noting he has tremendous respect for how consistent Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer has her teams play over the years. McGuff was two possessions from defeating the Cardinal to advance to the 2010 Final Four with his former Xavier.
With the Huskies, McGuff’s team committed 22 turnovers in a 65-47 loss at Stanford in January. It was the only meeting between the teams this season due to the Pac-12 adding two teams.
In Pac-12 tournament play, the Huskies have never won two games. The Cardinal, ranked second in the country, has won the title eight times, posting a 27-2 all-time record since the format began in 2002.
Keys for UW winning from an insider and Pops are the basics — boxing out and pressuring the guards. If the Huskies can, get John Wooden Award finalists Nnemkadi and Chiney Ogwumike in foul trouble, too. So, basically, Washington is going to need to play a near perfect game.
Is it possible? It’s March, anything is and it all starts with the opening lineup. (I won’t have starters for the remaining games, just running posts and a final wrap)
F Charmain Barlow
F Mackenzie Argens
C Regina Rogers
G Jazmine Daivs
G Mercedes Wetmore
F Chiney Ogwumike
F Nnemkadi Ogwumike
C Joslyn Tinkle
G Amber Orrange
G Toni Kokenis
This afternoon’s officials are Michael Price, Anita Ortega, and Penny Davis.