The USC Women of Troy will have nothing to complain about if they don't make the NCAA Tournament this year.
Although nothing was guaranteed, winning a couple of games in the 2012 Pac-12 women's basketball conference tournament would have helped USC gain entry to this year's field of 64. With other bubble teams like the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma State Cowgirls having already suffered bad losses in their conference tournament, the Women of Troy had an even better chance than they did a week ago.
But an embarrassing loss to the Washington State Cougars should put an end to USC's hope for a first NCAA tournament berth in the Michael Cooper era once and for all, for reasons described by Daily Breeze staff writer Scott Wolfe.
But the Trojans looked like the 11th-place team instead of the Cougars as Washington State cruised to a 69-55 victory in a Pacific-12 Conference Tournament women's basketball game before 2,901 at Galen Center.
It was an even more embarrassing loss considering it came on the Trojans' home court and Washington State had never won a conference tournament game prior to this week. It was also the biggest upset in tournament history by seeding differential as the Trojans were No. 3 and the Cougars No. 11.
And it's not as if USC was without opportunities to win - missed layups, mental lapses on both ends of the court, and frantic play in the second half did them in.
With that, the Cougars move on with an opportunity to do more damage in the tournament.
Day Three Schedule
All times PST. Games on FSN/CSNBA.
Game 9: (1) Stanford Cardinal vs. (4) Arizona St. Sun Devils - Noon (statistical matchup)
Game 10: (2) California Golden Bears vs. (11) Washington St. Cougars - 2:30 p.m. (statistical matchup)
Brief previews & players to watch
(1) Stanford Cardinal vs. (4) Arizona St. Sun Devils
Arizona State's defense slowed the pace to a crawl against the Arizona Wildcats yesterday in a 68-53 win, but their offensive execution wasn't bad either as they had 18 assists on their 24 field goals.
The problem is that now they're going up against a Cardinal team that crushed them on the boards - with a +33.1% offensive rebounding margin - in their lone meeting this season in Tempe, Arizona. Naturally, ASU lost that game, but they hung right with the Cardinal until losing senior post Kali Bennett briefly to injury disrupted their rhythm.
So is there a chance for ASU - a fringe bubble team that needs to continue winning to make the NCAA Tournament - to pull of an upset? Sure. But on a neutral court and Stanford having made some lineup changes since that win in Tempe, ASU will have a hard time solving the Cardinal who have proven they can outrebound almost any team in the nation playing a slow-paced half court game.
(2) California Golden Bears vs. (11) Washington St. Cougars
With its win over USC yesterday, WSU has now won 3 of its last 4 games and is playing with absolutely nothing to lose.
What might be most encouraging for them as they face Cal today is that they found a way to beat USC despite getting outrebounded by +21% on the offensive glass; their ability to create turnovers and shoot 50% from 3-point range put USC on their heels and could be a recipe for success against Cal. Even if WSU can't find a way to keep Cal off the boards, if they can force turnovers as they did in the first game and shoot anywhere near as well as they did against USC from beyond the arc they could find themselves in the finals.
The problem, of course, is that WSU was the worse 3-point shooting team in the Pac-12 during conference play and their performance against USC could be seen as more anomaly - and a surprisingly disoriented USC defense - more than anything else. But the odds of WSU getting this far seemed somewhat slim entering the tournament, especially given the prospect of facing a USC team that should have been desperate for a win; WSU looks like the hungriest team in the conference right now and it's getting results.
For more on Cal, visit SB Nation's California Golden Blogs.
To watch the previous days' games, visit the Pac-12's YouTube site.
Click here to download a printable bracket. For more on the tournament, visit the conference's 2012 Pac-12 conference tournament website. For game-by-game statistics, visit WBB State's Pac-12 conference tournament page.