Of the two remaining undefeated women’s basketball teams in Division I, the more likely to lose over the weekend, at least on paper, was unranked Colorado. But the Buffaloes never trailed in the fourth quarter of a 71-63 home victory over UCLA.
Meanwhile, fourth-ranked and defending NCAA runner-up Arizona was outplayed down the stretch of a 76-67 loss at USC.
So, Colorado (13-0/2-0 Pac-12) has the distinction of being the final major college unbeaten and is tied atop the Pac-12 with second-ranked Stanford (11-3/2-0) after two weeks of conference play.
COVID continues to impact the schedule, but six league games (one a makeup) were played Friday and Sunday — up from just two the week before.
There were seven additional postponements, one impacting Stanford, which instead played Gonzaga for the second time in a season where “your first name has to be flexible,” Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer said.
Utah, Oregon State, Arizona State and Washington have yet to play a conference game due to COVID issues.
Colorado snaps long losing streak vs. UCLA
Despite Arizona’s first loss, the biggest development of the week was Colorado, just outside of the top-25 rankings in both major national polls, winning its first two conference games.
The Buffs beat USC 71-58 on Friday, then backed it up Sunday with their first win over UCLA since 2014, ending a 10-game losing streak in the series.
The Bruins, playing for the first time since Dec. 11, lost Charisma Osborne to an apparent ankle injury with 4:38 remaining. They still were within four points (56-52) before 3-pointers from Frida Formann and Mya Hollingshed secured the win with under two minutes remaining.
CU junior guard Jaylyn Sherrod had a career-high 25 points and eight assists after posting 15 and eight against USC.
“I think every team is going through some adversity or another,” Colorado coach JR Payne said. “We’re no different. We had a very short amount of time to prepare for a great team like UCLA. That just shows a lot of resilience, a lot of togetherness, a lot of cohesion.”
UCLA (5-4/0-1) had six games postponed or canceled before finally getting back on the court. The two teams managed only two points in the opening six minutes, shooting a combined 1-of-16.
Arizona gets split down two starters
Arizona (11-1/1-1) played without starters Shaina Pellington and Lauren Ware in its first games since Dec. 17.
The Wildcats got by without them Friday, winning 60-52 at home over Washington State, but they didn’t have enough scoring beyond Cate Reese down the stretch against USC (8-4/1-1).
Trojan junior guard Alyson Mirua hit four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, including two back-to-back, that built the lead to 10 points with 1:05 left. There were eight lead changes in the fourth quarter until USC was able to wrangle control over the final five minutes.
“We completely embraced the opportunity in front of us,” USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb said.
“It’s not easy sometimes to look in the mirror and see what you can do better and figure out how you want to improve things, but with the way that we did that, against the opponent that we did it against, I think that makes it significant.”
The Trojans won without leading scorer Jordan Sanders, who suffered a knee injury in the second quarter Friday. Mirua’s big game came after going scoreless on 0-of-2 shooting against Colorado.
Reese had 29 points (one off her career high) for the Wildcats after scoring 20 on Friday, when Arizona coach Adia Barnes earned her 100th career win and former Wildcat star Aari McDonald was inducted into the school’s Ring of Honor.
“I came to Arizona to be an impact player and to leave a legacy,” Reese, a senior forward, said Friday. “I think I’m doing that.”
Stanford’s Lexie Hull goes off vs. Oregon
Stanford held steady Friday through some bumps against Oregon after building a 68-50 lead. The Ducks closed within seven (73-66) before Lexie Hull’s seventh 3-pointer, a dagger with 1:27 left.
Hull scored a career-high 33, going 7-of-10 from long range while playing all 40 minutes.
“It came down to my teammates finding me in those open spots,” the senior guard said.
In a 66-50 win over Gonzaga, Cameron Brink led the Cardinal with a double-double (14 points/16 rebounds) and five blocks. Hannah Jump scored 21, Haley Jones 15 and Hull scored eight (0-5 from 3-point) with eight boards.
Stanford’s win over the Zags was more decisive than the first meeting, on the road in November (66-62).
“I want to say how much I respect and am thankful for (coach) Lisa Fortier at Gonzaga for bringing her team to play us on a time she didn’t have to,” VanDerveer said.
“It really shows a lot about her and her program that they’re willing to come in here on two days notice and play a game.”
Oregon had a major bounce-back Sunday, winning 88-53 at Cal.
The Ducks went 10-of-16 from 3-point range in the first half and made the second half moot to a certain degree. They finished with a season-high 14 treys with guards Sydney Parris and Te-Hina Paopao scoring 21 apiece.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to come off of a loss and regroup two days later and play against a good team,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “But I thought we got off to a good start, played well at both ends of the floor, shot it really well and it just kind of snowballed from there.”
The Ducks are scheduled to play three games in five days coming up culminating at home against No. 11 Connecticut on Jan. 17.
Player of the Week nominees: Natalie Chou, UCLA; Jayda Curry, Cal; Lexie Hull, Stanford; Jordyn
Jenkins, USC; Cate Reese, Arizona; Endyia Rogers, Oregon; Jaylyn Sherrod, Colorado.
Freshman of the Week nominees: Jayda Curry, California; Rayah Marshall, USC; Kindyll Wetta, Colorado.
Ahead this week: Three games are scheduled for Thursday, including Arizona at Oregon State. The highlight Friday is Stanford at Colorado. Saturday features Arizona at Oregon, while the Cardinal visits Utah on Sunday.
Support the Hotline: Receive three months of unlimited access for just 99 cents. Yep, that’s 99 cents for 90 days, with the option to cancel anytime. Details are here, and thanks for your support.
*** Send suggestions, comments and tips (confidentiality guaranteed) to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 408-920-5716
*** Follow Metcalfe on Twitter: @jeffmetcalfe
*** Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.