LAS VEGAS — After winning just two games during conference play, Missy Peterson and her Washington teammates were thrilled to pull off the only upset of the opening day of the Pac-12 Tournament.
Peterson matched her career-high with 23 points and the 11th-seeded Huskies beat No. 6 Utah 64-54 on Thursday night.
“Wins in this conference or Division I basketball period is huge,” Peterson said. “Nobody is an easy game. We knew Utah was going to be hard. We weren’t ready for it to be our last game. We wanted one more.”
Washington (10-20) trailed 26-24 with 4:35 left in the second quarter before scoring the final 10 points of the half. Peterson had the first eight points of that burst. The Huskies kept the momentum going in the third quarter, scoring the first six points to extend their advantage to 40-26. The lead grew to 18 before the Utes (20-10) rallied to within 57-50 in the fourth quarter with 2:17 left, but Peterson hit a foul-line jumper to stem the tide and end all hopes of the miraculous comeback.
“Getting wins at this level isn’t easy to do,” Washington coach Jody Wynn said. “We hadn’t performed well enough to get the wins that we all want. It’s big for our program.”
The Huskies will face third-seed Oregon State on Friday night in the quarterfinals. It was only the second time a team came to the Pac-12 Tournament with two or fewer conference wins and pulled off a victory. The Beavers were the only other team to do it, accomplishing that feat in 2010.
Megan Huff led Utah with 10 points and 17 rebounds. The team’s leading scorer for the season, averaging 20 points a game, was just 3 for 15 from the field.
It’s been a rough last six weeks for Utah. The Utes had risen to No. 14 in the Top 25 after beating Stanford and were 18-1 on the season. Then the team was hit hard by injuries. Utah dropped eight of its final 10 regular-season games. The team lost three players to knee injuries, including freshman standout Dre’Una Edwards in the last meeting with the Huskies. She was averaging 11.6 points and 7.6 rebounds. The Utes also lost senior Daneesha Provo, who was averaging 13.5 points in the first 13 games this season.
“We squeezed everything out of this group that we can,” Utah coach Lynne Roberts said. “They squeezed it out of themselves as well. Adversity happens. The future’s bright and I’m excited to see where we can take this thing.”
With so many injured players, Roberts made it clear that her team wouldn’t play in a postseason tournament unless the NCAA came calling, which she didn’t expect to happen.
“We’re not in the discussion for the NCAA Tournament at this point,” she said. “Today was the nail in the coffin there. They called us I’m sure we’d accept. Anything else, we’re tired and we’ve got freshmen playing. We’re worn down, you could see it today. … Our job as administration and coaches is to look out for our student-athletes first. I look into their eyes and they’re tired. We’re going to rest up and get healthy and use this to springboard us into the future.”
California 77, Washington St. 58
LAS VEGAS — Kristine Anigwe had 27 points and 16 rebounds to lead seventh-seeded Cal to a win over 10th-seeded Washington State in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament on Thursday night.
When these two teams met last Sunday, Anigwe had 32 points and 30 rebounds — the first Division I player since 2002 to reach 30 in both categories in the same game. She single-handedly outrebounded the Cougars by eight that night as Cal won by 22.
Anigwe did her part for Cal (19-11) on Thursday despite facing constant double and triple teams. She recorded her 31st consecutive double-double, the longest such streak in Pac-12 history.
Chanelle Molina helped Washington State (9-21) hang around for 25 minutes as the Cougars only trailed 36-34 at the break. She had 14 of her 24 points in the first half to offset Anigwe’s 17 points.
Cal, which will face Stanford in the quarterfinals Friday night, got going in the third quarter behind Recee Caldwell. She had eight of her 14 points in the period as Cal extended its advantage to 58-51. Anigwe broke Cal’s career blocks record when she recorded her 199th in the third quarter.
She passed Charlotte Lusschen, who held the record of 198 since 1986. With her three blocks, Anigwe now has 200 in her career.
The Bears put the game away early in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 of the first 14 points.
Arizona 76, USC 48
LAS VEGAS — Cate Reese and Aari McDonald scored 19 points each to help eighth-seeded Arizona beat ninth-seeded Southern Cal in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament on Thursday.
The Wildcats (18-12) will face top-seeded Oregon on Friday in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
Arizona led 13-12 midway through the first quarter before scoring eight of the final 10 points. The team kept the momentum going in the second quarter with a 16-5 run to open the period and never looked back. The Wildcats led 44-21 at the half.
The Wildcats maintained at least a 20-point advantage for most of the second half that allowed coach Adia Barnes to get her starters some rest with another game Friday. Arizona has already secured its first 18-win season since 2010-11. That’s the last time the team was over .500 in the regular season.
Mariya Moore, who was second in scoring for USC (17-13) during the season averaging 15.1 points, missed her first 10 shots and didn’t have a basket until early in the third quarter. She finished with 12 points, going 7-for-8 from the foul line.
Arizona St. 66, Colorado 49
LAS VEGAS — Courtney Ekmark scored 18 points and No. 20 Arizona State used a run at the start of the fourth quarter to pull away from Colorado on Thursday in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament.
Ekmark hit six 3-pointers for the Sun Devils (20-9), who will play UCLA on Friday in the quarterfinals.
Fifth-seeded Arizona State led by 12 at the half, but 12-seed Colorado (12-18) rallied to within a point in the third quarter after scoring the first seven points of the period. Charnea Johnson-Chapman’s putback before the buzzer gave the Sun Devils some momentum heading into the final period. Ekmark hit a 3-pointer to begin an 11-2 burst that restored the double-digit advantage.
Kiara Russell and Sophia Elenga had back-to-back 3-point plays that gave Arizona State a 54-42 lead with 5:42 left.
The Buffaloes could get no closer than 10 the rest of the way.
Alexis Robinson scored 19 points to lead Colorado.