Pac-12 Power Rankings: Stanford ends conference season on top, Cal women’s basketball finishes third

Patrick Chong/Staff

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Editor’s note: The Daily Cal will be publishing Pac-12 Power Rankings every week, alternating between men’s and women’s basketball. Power rankings are determined by the Daily Cal’s basketball writers and do not necessarily reflect the current Pac-12 standings.

1. No. 4 Stanford (28-2, 17-1 Pac-12) (Last: 1st)

The No. 4 Stanford women’s basketball team finishes the regular season exactly where it started: in the top spot of our power rankings. Cal’s rival from across the Bay closed the season as winners of six straight. The Cardinal rebound. They score. They utterly destroy their opponents with their superior skill, athleticism, cohesiveness and coaching. All-American Chiney Ogwumike, a Player of the Year candidate, is an absolute beast. Stanford is likely to supplement its conference crown with a Pac-12 tournament championship over the upcoming weekend, and they have already all but locked down a top seed for the NCAA tournament. Quite simply, there’s no arguing Stanford’s status at the top of this year’s power rankings.

— Josh Netter

2. Oregon State (21-9, 13-5) (4th)

Although the Beavers continue to fly under the radar as an unranked team, our power rankings are giving these winners of nine straight games the credit they deserve. Oregon State punctuated its streak by closing the regular season with a comprehensive demolition of then-No. 20 Arizona State, winning by a 66-43 scoreline. Center Ruth Hamblin had 16 points, eight rebounds and seven blocked shots in the victory, but the Beavers had contributions coming from every which direction. Sydney Wiese had 15 points, Ali Gibson added 13 and Deven Hunter put up 11 points on perfect shooting. Oregon State has emerged as a proven contender in the Pac-12, and it should come as no big surprise if it topples Cal in the quest to reach the finals of this weekend’s Pac-12 tournament.

— Josh Netter

3. No. 20 Cal (21-8, 13-5) (2nd)

Despite a relatively strong finish to the regular season, Cal drops a spot to third place in our power rankings. This is largely due to the 70-65 loss that the Bears suffered to Washington on Saturday, a game in which Cal performed decently well given the absence of star point guard Brittany Boyd. Boyd has been battling an ankle injury for the past few weeks, and after picking up an additional knock to her knee Thursday, head coach Lindsay Gottlieb thought it better to rest her floor general for the regular-season finale. The Bears were on a seven-game winning streak before the defeat to Washington, and a trip to the finals of the Pac-12 tournament this weekend could very well prove that they deserve better than the No. 3 spot we’ve given them.

— Josh Netter

4. Arizona State (22-8, 11-7) (3rd)

Sitting at fourth place in these power ranking is no disappointment to Arizona State. At the start of the season, the Sun Devils were expected to finish 10th in the Pac-12 according to the preseason coaches’ poll. The squad quickly defied these expectations, refusing to be relegated to the lower echelons of the conference standings. The Sun Devils opened Pac-12 play on an impressive run, beating nine of its first 11 conference foes. A late-season slump has since struck the squad, and the team wrapped up conference play quite the opposite of how it started. Despite losing five of their final seven games, the Sun Devils remained in the running for as high as second place in the Pac-12 entering the final weekend of conference play. A loss to Oregon State relegated the team to fourth place and the No. 4 seed in the Pac-12 tournament.

— Taylor Brink

5. USC (18-12, 11-7) (6th)

The schedule builders were reasonably nice to USC this year, for though all teams must face each other through conference play, the Trojans were lucky enough to finish off the regular season at Utah and Colorado. The snow-capped states are arguably one of the easiest pairings this season, which allowed USC the opportunity to rebound from what is quite clearly the most difficult of the road trips this season — the Bay. USC did exactly what it needed to in order to rebound from road losses to Cal and Stanford. The Trojans comfortably defeated both Utah and Colorado to secure a place in the top half of the conference standings. The squad will carry a No. 5 seed going into the Pac-12 tournament.

— Taylor Brink

6. Washington (17-12, 10-8) (5th)

The Huskies earned a big win Saturday when they took down the then-No. 18 Bears. Though Cal was not at full force — resting leading guard Brittany Boyd due to injuries — Washington’s victory remains impressive. The squad held Cal’s surging Reshanda Gray, who recorded 43 points in a battle with Washington State only a few days before, to a manageable 16 points. Furthermore, Washington held the Cal offence to 31 percent shooting in the first half and led by as much as 10 in the game. The Bears attempted a second-half surge, but the Huskies were able to hold off a Cal comeback to give them a third victory over a ranked team this season. The Huskies had three players reach double figures in the five-point victory and became only the second team to beat both Cal and Stanford this season.

— Taylor Brink

7. Oregon (15-14, 6-12) (11th)

As a reward for picking up two huge wins to close out the season, the Ducks quack all the way up to seventh place in this week’s power rankings. That’s right — we’re crowning Oregon as the king of the Pac-12’s bottom half. The Ducks followed up a 98-90 upset win over then-No. 20 Arizona State with a convincing 12-point victory over Arizona on Sunday, and head coach Paul Westhead’s team will be feeling confident that it can make a statement in this weekend’s Pac-12 tournament. The win over now-unranked ASU was particularly impressive, as Oregon thoroughly outplayed its opponents on both ends of the floor. Jillian Alleyne, Chrishae Rowe and Ariel Thomas combined to score 76 points in the game, and redshirt sophomore Lexi Peterson chipped in with 10 points of her own. If the streaking Ducks can hold off Washington State in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament this weekend, they will pose an interesting matchup for Cal in the quarterfinals.

— Josh Netter

8. Colorado (16-13, 6-12) (9th)

Although the Buffs were expected to fall in both games of their weekend doubleheader, the Colorado women proved us wrong and upset UCLA by a whopping 20 points, bringing them up to the No. 8 spot on our power rankings. On Friday, Colorado’s impressive defense limited its Bruin counterpart to a measly 12 second-half points. Although the Buffs trailed 30-27 at halftime, the Colorado squad burst out of the gates with a 12-2 run to start out the second half, while UCLA was only able to shoot 3-for-25. On Sunday, the Buffs managed to brush off a 12-point halftime deficit to take a one-point lead over USC with two minutes left. But the Colorado women could not close out the game, dropping a 66-59 tilt to end their regular season at home. If the Buffs can keep up their second-half performance in their first matchup of the Pac-12 tournament, against UCLA, they’ll be able to come out with a win — but then they will have top-seeded Stanford to contend with in the quarterfinals.

— Janice Chua

9. Washington State (15-15, 9-9) (7th)

While USC was lucky with its draw for the final weekend of conference play, Washington State was not so fortunate. The Cougars drew No. 18 Cal and No. 5 Stanford for their final road trip, and the results were pretty much what would be expected. Washington State did force a close game against the Bears, forcing overtime to decide the nail-biter. The Cougars allowed Cal’s Reshanda Gray to knock down 32 first-half points for the Bears, which she converted into a career performance with 43 points to close out the game. Washington State’s interior options watched helplessly as Gray carried the Bears and sent tremors through the stats sheets. Despite the impressive effort, the squad left the Bay with two losses and must face Oregon on Thursday to open the Pac-12 tournament.

— Taylor Brink

10. UCLA (13-17, 7-11) (8th)

The Bruins have been struggling all season long to pass the .500 mark in conference play, but a few weeks of mediocre play have set them back to a No. 9 seed in the Pac-12 tournament and No. 10 in our power rankings. Although sophomore guard Nirra Fields and senior forward Atonye Nyingifa led UCLA to an easy 62-52 victory over Utah to close out the regular season, the Bruins fell earlier in three straight Pac-12 matchups to Cal, Stanford and — most notably — Colorado.  After shooting 12 percent in field goals during the second half Sunday, the Bruins lost to a beatable Colorado team and will face the Buffs again in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament. Chances are, if the Bruins play the same way they have been playing in the last few weeks of the season, we won’t see them again in the quarterfinals.

— Janice Chua

11. Utah (11-18, 4-14) (12th)

With their sole win in the past month coming from a matchup with Arizona — the worst team in the conference — the Utes don’t look like they have any chance of moving past the second-to-last spot in our power rankings. Despite senior forward Michelle Plouffe scoring 20 points in Utah’s most recent game against UCLA, the Utes eventually dropped a 62-52 contest to end their regular season Sunday having won only four conference matches. Not surprisingly, the Utes enter the Pac-12 tournament as the No. 11 seed and will battle Washington in the first round. Having lost to the Huskies twice in narrow overtime matches, the Utah women may have a chance to move on to round two, provided they are finally able to finish out their game against the sixth seed.

— Janice Chua

12. Arizona (5-24, 1-17) (10th)

The Arizona team has been consistent all season — but not in a good way. Currently riding a six-game losing streak, the Wildcats have, without a doubt, proven their status as the worst team in the Pac-12 conference. Arizona’s sole conference win came from a major upset over in-state rival and then-No. 11 Arizona State, but that little glimmer of hope was quickly extinguished the weekend after in Arizona’s matchup against Cal. Since then, the team hasn’t shown any signs of promise for a conference win, and the Wildcats will likely hand over an easy win to fifth-seeded USC in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament.

— Janice Chua

 

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