March 3, 2022
Inside the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament Day 1
Live from Las Vegas, all you need to know
LAS VEGAS — Day 1 of the Pac-12 tournament is in the books. It was an exciting day of basketball at Michelob Ultra Arena as eight teams took the floor looking to advance to the quarterfinals. Here is a quick summary of how each game unfolded along with some thoughts on all eight teams in action today:
Game 1: No. 5 Colorado vs No. 12 Washington
Colorado defeats Washington, 64-52
Game Summary: The first game of the day got off to a slow start as neither team scored for the first four-and-a-half minutes. Pac-12 sixth player of the year Quay Miller broke the scoreless drought with an and-1 to get the Buffaloes on the board. The first quarter ended with Colorado up 12-8 with the two teams combing to make just 8 field goals in the quarter. Scoring in the second quarter wasn’t any better. At the half, the teams combined to shoot 24.2% from the field as the Buffaloes led 21-17. Colorado had 15 offensive rebounds at the half after having just eight in the first matchup. The third quarter started like the first two but after the media timeout, both teams caught fire. The teams combined for 23 points in the final 3:31 of the quarter including making six straight 3’s to end the quarter. Colorado took a one-point lead into the fourth. The teams started the fourth trading baskets. With 2:41 remaining in the game, Tameiya Sadler went down with an injury after running into a teammate and had to be stretchered off the floor. The arena was silent for multiple minutes while Sadler was down and subsequently taken off the court. After the injury, Colorado used a 10-1 run to finish out the game. Peanut Tuitele led all scorers with 16 points, 12 of which came in the second half for the Buffs. Nancy Mulkey finished her collegiate career with 11 points and 7 rebounds for the Huskies.
My thoughts on Colorado’s performance: The Buffaloes brought their trademark defense to Las Vegas. They defended like they had all year and locked up the Huskies down the stretch. Mya Hollingshed struggled in the first half but showed why she is a star. She had 13 points in the second half including 3 straight threes to end the third quarter. Also, Peanut Tuitele brings great energy for the Buffaloes. She had 16 points, including 10 in the fourth. She had a huge offensive rebound and three pointer early in the fourth to extend Colorado’s lead back to 4. Frehsman guard Kindyll Wetta is going to be a star in the Pac-12. She had eight points in the first half and a couple of key steals. She was on the all-defensive team and Coach Payne had high praise for her.
“She is one of the hardest working, toughest, most discipline young ladies I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach,” said Colorado head coach JR Payne. “I really appreciate her level headiness because there were times throughout this game that if you emotionally got too high or too low, it really could have been disruptive to what we were doing but Kindyll is one that helps us stay calm.”
My thoughts on Washington’s performance: First year coach Tina Langley has done a great job in her first year fighting through the adversity. The Huskies battled throughout this entire game and battled this entire season. Coach Langley was very profusive in how proud she was of this team’s effort this season. The Huskies bring back to good scorers in Haley Van Dyke and Lauren Schwartz but will have to say goodbye to 5th year senior Nancy Mulkey. Mulkey has been with Coach Langley for a long time and was very emotional on the end of her collegiate basketball career.
“I just thank Coach Langley for taking a chance on me and giving me the opportunity to play at Rice with her and then come here and play at the highest level,” Mulkey said. “She’s really mentored me throughout my college career and I’m forever grateful for her.”
Game 2: No. 8 Oregon State vs No. 9 Arizona State
Oregon State defeats Arizona State, 59-54
Game Summary: Oregon State came out of the gates on fire, hitting their first five shots. They took an early 13-3 lead and forced an Arizona State timeout. After the timeout, Oregon State cooled off but had an 16-8 lead at the end of one. The second quarter saw both teams struggle to score as they combined to shoot 6-27 in the second quarter. Oregon State took a 24-16 lead into the half. Arizona State had 9 offensive rebounds at the half and scored seven second chance points from them. Oregon State started to pull away midway through the third. The Beavers used a 14-2 burst to take their largest lead 40-22 with 1:30 remaining in the third. Arizona State made two baskets to close the third to make it a 14-point game heading into the 4th. Oregon State took a 17-point lead behind a Talia von Oelhoffen three, but Arizona State responded in a major way. The Sun Devils used a 20-5 run over a four-minute stretch to cut the deficit to just two points with just over a minute remaining. A layup by Greta Kampschroeder with 49 seconds remaining gave the Beavers a four-point lead and they hung on for 59-54 win.
My thoughts on Oregon State’s performance: The Beavers brought an amazing defensive effort to Michelob Ultra Arena today. They did an amazing job of locking down the Sun Devils. Scott Rueck was ecstatic with the way his team played on that side of the ball. Ellie Mack has done a great job this year of coming off the bench and did so again today scoring 14 points in just 26 minutes. Last time these two teams met, Jade Loville scored 33 points against the Beavers and led Arizona State to the win. This time, Oregon State held her to just 9 points and she didn’t make her first basket until midway through the fourth quarter. Coach Rueck said they didn’t change their game plan, they just defended more accurately.
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“I thought defensively we played with a great intensity,” Rueck said. “I thought we were more accurate. I loved the intensity and I think defensive intensity is one of the ways we’ve really grown as a team.”
My thoughts on Arizona State’s performance: The Sun Devils struggled offensively throughout the first three and a half quarters of the game but finally came alive late in the game. I was impressed with Arizona State’s fight and the fact that they never gave up. Taya Hanson is one of the few players on the team who has played in a Sun Devil uniform for more than a year and she showed it in the 4th quarter. She scored 10 points for Arizona State and was big part of the Sun Devils late push. Jade Loville has been amazing all season long but couldn’t find any offensive rhythm today. She never hesitated to shoot the ball and that is what has allowed her to become a great player. Coach Charli Turner Thorne was very proud of her team’s fight through adversity tonight and the whole season.
“They believed, we’ve been down and we fought back before. I’m proud of them for that,” Coach Turner Thorne said. “I’m proud that this team is continuing to stay with things and grow and learn. There was a lot of newness on this team, and I am really proud of them.”
Game 3: No. 7 UCLA vs No. 10 USC
UCLA defeats USC, 73-60
Game Summary: Our third game of the day got off to another slow start. The first quarter was back and forth as neither team had a lead bigger than 3. Both teams combined to shoot just 33% from the field in the first. UCLA started off the 2nd quarter strong. Behind the play of Ilmar’I Thomas and Oregon transfer Angela Dugalic, UCLA went on a 9-0 run and forced a USC timeout halfway through the 2nd. The Bruins continued their dominance and outscored the Trojans 19 to 11 in the quarter, but the USC finished the 2nd on a 6-0 run to make it a 33-24 game heading into half. USC came out of the locker room focused. The Trojans went on a 12-4 run over the first 3+ minutes of the quarter to cut the UCLA lead to just 1. The teams traded baskets the rest of the quarter and each went on runs. USC used some strong offense over the last few minutes of the quarter to take us to a 46 all tie heading into the fourth. UCLA started the fourth quarter on the right foot and forced a quick USC timeout after taking a four-point lead with 7 min remaining. UCLA dominated from that point on going on an 8-1 run to take a 10 point lead that the Bruins would never relinquish it. UCLA finished off USC by a final of score of 73 to 60.
My thoughts on UCLA’s performance: For a team plagued by injuries this season, UCLA’s offense was very balanced. Everything still runs through Charisma Osborne and Ilmar’I Thomas for the Bruins. Thomas did a great job in the first half of getting position down low and finishing. Osborne was steady the entire game and hit big shots in the second half. Additionally, Oregon transfer Angela Dugalic is finally healthy enough to play and today she made some big contributions. She had her first career double-double and had career highs in both points and rebounds. Coach Close had high praise for Dugalic after the game.
“Really proud of how Angela just continues to get better with no practices,” Head Coach Cori Close said. “To have 12 rebounds in 19 minutes of play and the way she impacted the game…she’s just really growing with us.”
My thoughts on USC’s performance: Coach Gottlieb had an up-and-down first year in Los Angeles. She had a balance of experience and youth on her team, but what stood out to me was two of her young players. Jordyn Jenkins was USC’s leading scorer this year. She struggled today with just five points and had no field goals made but has shown great strides in her first year with Coach Gottlieb. The star today for the Trojans was Rayah Marshall. She had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. The Pac-12 all-freshman team performer is looking forward to getting back on the court next season.
“I grew a lot this season. Once I got the hang of things, I felt I was able to get the rhythm of college basketball,” Marshall said. “What I can take into next season is this fire feeling I have right now.”
Game 4: No. 6 Utah vs No. 11 Cal
Utah defeats Cal, 66-60
Game Summary: It was an early back and forth to start our final game of the day. Both teams came out of the gates on fire, combing to shoot 9 of 13 over the first 5+ minutes of the game. At the end of 1, Utah led 16-15 but the two teams combined for 10 turnovers in the first quarter. Utah started the 2nd quarter as the aggressor, scoring seven of the first nine points before Cal responded with back-to-back buckets. The teams went back and forth the rest of the 2nd and the Utes took a six-point lead into the half, 31-25. Utah came out of the locker room strong and was able to extend their lead out to 10 points on a buzzer beating three by Gianna Kneepkens. Cal responded with a 15-6 run and cut the Utah lead to one with 1:44 remaining in the third. A Jayda Curry floater in the final seconds of the 3rd gave Cal a 45-44 lead heading into the final frame. Utah came out in the fourth and behind the play of Freshman of the Year, Gianna Kneepkens, retook the lead 56-52 with 4 mins remaining in the game. Cal hit back-to-back baskets out of the media timeout and tied the game at 56. The Utes responded with three straight baskets by freshman Jenna Johnson to give Utah a six-point lead with a minute and a half remaining. Cal cut the Utah lead to two with 1 min remaining but a crafty drive and layup by Gianna Kneepkens gave Utah a four point lead with just under 30 seconds left. The Utes would make free throws in the final seconds and hang on for the 66-60 win.
My thoughts on Utah’s performance: Utah has two absolute stud freshman and neither of them played like freshman today. Every time Utah needed a basket, there was Jenna Johnson or Gianna Kneepkens. Every time they needed a stop, one of them grabbed a key defensive rebound. The two of them combined for 38 of Utah’s 66 points. Kneepkens had the game sealing layup with less than 30 seconds left. She also hit an off balance three to beat the shot clock early in the fourth quarter. This two are going to keep Utah competitive for a long time. Coach Roberts was pleasantly surprised by her rookie’s performance today.
“Pretty, pretty impressive and to be completely candid, I wasn’t sure how they would be,” said Coach Lynne Roberts. “They have proven time and time again that they are ready to roll. I can’t wait to see what we do the rest of the season and into the future.”
My thoughts on Cal’s performance: Tonight, was a battle of the two Freshman of the Year candidates. Jayda Curry played very well but unfortunately got outshined by her counterpart on the Utes. However, that does not take away anything from what Curry can do. She is incredibly difficult to guard. She has a ton of moves in her bag and has an opportunity to be one of the best players in the country by the time she finishes her career. Despite Cal’s youth, they competed in this game all the way until the end. Cal has a very bright future and Coach Smith knows that Curry is going to play a large role in that.
“We got to eliminate some mistakes and continue to work to get better so that we can have some postseason play and move further along in March,” Coach Charmin Smith said. “There’s been a lot put on Jayda’s shoulders and I’m proud of how she performed, and I think It bodes well for us that our best player is also a phenomenal person with an amazing attitude.”
Written by Matthew Walter
Matthew Walter covers the Las Vegas Aces, the Pac-12 and the WCC for the Next. He is a former Director of Basketball Operations and Video Coordinator at three different Division I women's basketball programs.