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Shakeup in the Pac-12: Arizona State makes history with wins over No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Oregon State

In a wild weekend of conference play, the No. 2 Oregon Ducks and the No. 3 Oregon State Beavers fall to the Arizona State Sun Devils while the No. 18 Arizona Wildcats lose to both Oregon and Oregon State.

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 29 Div I Women’s Championship - Third Round - Arizona State v Mississippi State
Robbi Ryan scored 17 points in Arizona State’s victory over No. 2 Oregon.
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The No. 2 Oregon Ducks and the No. 3 Oregon State Beavers went on the road to face the No. 18 Arizona Wildcats and the unranked Arizona State Sun Devils during a Pac-12 schedule that was developed to lessen travel. Entering the weekend, Oregon had scored below 80 points in just one game (a loss to Louisville) and was undefeated in conference play. Oregon State had yet to suffer a loss behind a relatively weak non-conference schedule. Arizona was coming off a loss to No. 10 UCLA but got a prior win over a Top 25 team (then-No. 22 Texas). And Arizona State had dropped two of its last three games (to UCLA and Arizona, with the win being against USC).

In a quadruplet of meetings on Thursday and Sunday involving these four teams, the Sun Devils put the Pac-12 on notice.

Round 1

Arizona State defeats No. 2 Oregon, 72-66

Arizona State trailed Oregon 52-42 going into the final quarter. The Sun Devils had shot 25 percent for the game but kept it close by being plus-nine in made free throws. In the final quarter, the Ducks shot 5-of-17 while the Sun Devils shot 9-of-13, including 5-of-6 from 3-pointer range, on their way to outscoring the Ducks 30-14 in the final period. Arizona State was simply more aggressive, exemplified in the team’s 19-of-22 performance from the free-throw line. Oregon struggled in the category, shooting 7-of-14 from the charity stripe. Robbi Ryan, Arizona State’s second-leading scorer, scored a team-high 17 points, matching her season high.

Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu led all scorers with 24 points and shot a respectable 10-of-19 from the floor. Ionescu was, however, 0-of-4 from beyond the arc. The Ducks made just five of their 18 attempts from deep and were 0-4 in the final quarter. The 66 points scored was Oregon’s second-lowest total of the season.

No. 3 Oregon State defeats No. 18 Arizona, 63-61

At the half, Oregon State held a 36-30 lead over Arizona. The Wildcats would trail in the second half but the Beavers’ lead never went past nine points. A free throw by Cate Reese tied the game at 61 apiece with a minute and forty seconds left in the game, and the game would stay tied for quite some time. Mikayla Pivec — who finished with a game-high 17 points and recorded her seventh double-double of the year (with 10 rebounds) — put the Beavers in front and kept them there.

Arizona forced Oregon State into 19 turnovers that led to 23 points. Although Aari McDonald and Cate Reese scored 15 points apiece for the Wildcats, it simply wasn’t enough.

Round 2

Arizona State beats No. 3 Oregon State, 55-47

Oregon State shot 6-of-26 in the first half (including missing all of their 10 attempts from 3-point range), mustering just 14 points. Fortunately for the Beavers, the Sun Devils were not much better. The game score was a lowly 24-14 at the half. Oregon State would come back to tie the game at 45 points apiece on a 3-pointer by Destiny Slocum, her second of the game. But the Sun Devils showed their resolve and ended the game on a 10-2 run. Six of the points were scored by senior Reili Richardson who was sent to the free-throw line three times in the final minute. She made all six of her free-throw attempts and finished with 10 points.

Ja’Tavia Tapley was the game-high scorer for the Sun Devils, with 14 points. It was Tapley’s final basket over Beavers’ freshman Kennedy Brown that put Arizona State up by four points with about a minute and forty seconds to left in regulation.

Oregon State’s dynamic duo of Mikayla Pivec and Destiny Slocum combined for 26 points on 10-of-31 shooting. The Beavers’ rising freshman star, Taylor Jones, recorded her third straight double-double (and seventh of the season), with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Interestingly, Oregon State has now lost four games in a row to Arizona State, dating back to the 2018 Pac-12 Tournament.

No. 2 Oregon beats No. 18 Arizona, 71-64

Oregon got off to a slow start, trailing 20-18 after the first quarter, but outscoring Arizona 17-6 in the second and never letting Arizona all the way back into the game. Aari McDonald led all scorers with 25 points and the Wildcats forced 17 turnovers. Yet, the Ducks were just too much. Ruthy Hebard was a key factor in the Ducks’ dominant performance in the paint (36 points to Arizona’s 18). She finished the night with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Satou Sabally scored 18 points and went 9-of-10 from the free-throw line.

Sabrina Ionescu recorded her 22nd career triple-double, with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. However, she did commit six turnovers — a fact that stuck out to her.

The way forward

After dropping three games in a row, No. 18 Arizona will likely drop out of the Top 25. After knocking off two top-five opponents, Arizona State could end up ranked anywhere from No. 25 to No. 17, which could propel the Sun Devils to a higher-than-expected finish in the conference. Arizona and Arizona State will be visiting Washington and Washington State next week.

No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Oregon State will fall in the rankings and could drop outside of the top five since both lost to an unranked opponent (Arizona State). Oregon will face currently-ranked No. 4 Stanford in Eugene, OR in their next game before welcoming the Cal Bears. Oregon State will face the same opponents but in reverse order, with Cal coming to Corvallis, OR before Stanford does.