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Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals: Stanford advances, Washington State surprises

We had a huge upset, a Cinderella whose time ran out in Vegas and an easy win for the No. 1 seed during Thursday’s Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals.

California v UCLA
Kiki Rice (jersey #1)
Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images

The Pac-12 quarterfinals were filled with drama and intrigue as we went from eight teams to four in Las Vegas trying to win the tournament. The semifinals will be taking place on Friday; the championship game will be on Sunday.

No. 5 seed UCLA Bruins over No. 4 seed Arizona Wildcats, 73-59

It was all UCLA in the four vs. five matchup, as the Bruins cruised to victory thanks to Emily Bessoir’s double-double and Charisma Osborne’s 18-point performance. They got off to a 6-0 start and minus a brief period in the second quarter when Arizona held a five-point lead, they controlled the game. The Bruins didn’t shoot well from the field (41.8 percent), but it didn’t impact them because they dominated the boards 46-27. Arizona has a balanced attack with three starters in double-digits but needed someone to step up and produce in a big way like Shaina Pellington did when the Wildcats bested the Bruins earlier this season.

No. 1 seed Stanford Cardinal over No. 9 seed Oregon Ducks, 76-65

This is Stanford's tournament to lose as the top seed in the conference and the sixth-ranked team in the nation. On Thursday, they took a step toward winning it by beating the Ducks with ease. They never trailed and the lead ballooned to as many as 16 in the closing minutes of the first half. In short, the Cardinal are just too deep and too good for Oregon to keep up with in a high-stakes game.

It was fun watching Te-Hina Paopao and Endyia Rogers try, though.

The Oregon guards put on a show and produced at an incredible rate, with Paopao scoring 28 points and Rogers adding 15. The future for this duo is bright, but the present is Cameron Brink and Stanford. She dominated the glass with 11 boards and led the team in scoring with 22. The Ducks had no one to compete with her. Mix that in with Hannah Jump’s double-double and Haley Jones leading the team with 13 rebounds and you get an early exit for Oregon and a semifinal appearance for Stanford.

No. 7 seed Washington State Cougars over No. 3 seed Utah Utes, 66-58

In the upset of the night, Washington State beat Utah 66-58. A third-quarter outburst started by Bella Murekatete helped the Cougars outscore the Utes 27-11, gain the lead, take control and never look back.

What’s surprising is Utah didn’t play poorly. They got a good performance from Gianna Kneepkens, who had 18 points to lead the team, but Alissa Pili played below her average production, scoring just 11 points and grabbing two boards. In fact, no one for Utah rebounded well and there were plenty of opportunities, given that they shot 37.7 percent from the floor. It’s a bad loss for Utah, a great win for Washington State and a reminder that you must bring your very best each night in March if you want your season to survive.

No. 3 seed Colorado Buffaloes over No. 11 seed Oregon State Beavers, 62-54

The Beavers’ luck ran out in Vegas as they lost to the Buffaloes 62-54, thanks to Colorado taking control in the second half when Aaron Vonleh got going offensively. She ended the night with 15 points and 60 percent shooting. Despite the defeat, the underclassmen shined for Oregon State. Freshman guard Adlee Blacklock led all Beavers with 12 points and sophomore guard AJ Morette scored 10 points off the bench. Given their low seeding, Oregon State shined and overachieved, beating USC and keeping up with Colorado during the first half. Colorado advances to the semifinals, where it will face No. 7 seed Washington State.

Pac-12 Tournament schedule

All games at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, NV

Semifinals — Friday, March 3

No. 5 UCLA vs. No. 1 Stanford, 6 p.m. PT (PAC 12 Network)

No. 7 Washington State vs. No. 3 Colorado, 8:30 p.m. PT (PAC 12 Network)