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Preview: First round of the Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament

The first round of the tournament will see some of the nation's top scorers go head-to-head


ASU junior guard Kiara Russell (4) dribbles down the court in ASU's 66-49 win over Colorado in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019.

The regular season is finally complete and March and all of the madness that comes with it is now here. The No. 5-seeded ASU women's basketball team will take on the No. 12 -seeded Colorado Buffaloes to begin the Pac-12 tournament on Thursday, March 7. 

Aside from ASU's game, there are big names to watch out for in the first round, including some of the nation's best scorers.

No. 5 ASU Sun Devils versus No. 12 Colorado

ASU won both matchups with Colorado earlier in the year. January's matchup saw the Sun Devils come out on top 76-70, with senior forward Kianna Ibis scoring a then season-high 27 points. The Sun Devils won the second matchup with ease, winning 66-49. 

The Sun Devils have lost three of their last five games, while the Buffaloes have lost four of their last five. Colorado lost those games by an average of nearly 17 points per game, including a 34-point loss to No. 25 UCLA. 

ASU will attempt to stifle Colorado on the defensive end of the floor. ASU currently leads the Pac-12 in the least points allowed per game, giving up an average of 58 points per game.

Colorado needs to find consistent scoring to beat the Sun Devils. While four players average over ten points per game for the Buffaloes, they have failed to reach 60 points in three of their past five games and will find themselves in a battle versus ASU's defense.

(Winner faces No. 4 UCLA Bruins)

No. 6 Utah Utes versus No. 11 Washington Huskies

Utah dominated Washington in two games they faced off in this season. Utah won the first matchup in January by 15 points and won the latest matchup by a whopping 32 points.

Two top-ten scorers in the Pac-12 will face off in this matchup. Utah senior forward Megan Huff is fourth in the conference in scoring, averaging 20 points per game. Washington junior guard Amber Melgoza is eighth in the conference in scoring, averaging 17.8 points per game.

Melgoza needs more support from her teammates with scoring if Washington is to pull off an upset. No other player on the team averages over ten points per game.

Neither team has much momentum either. Both teams have lost two consecutive games. One team will break its losing streak with this game.

(Winner faces No. 3 Oregon State Beavers)

No. 7 California Golden Bears versus No. 10 Washington State Cougars

These teams will be familiar with each other coming into this game, having ended the season playing each other. Cal defeated Washington State 80-58 behind a historic game from senior center Kristine Anigwe's 32 points and 30 rebounds.

Anigwe was the first player in more than 15 years to record a game with at least 30 points and 30 rebounds. She also recorded her 30th consecutive double-double, becoming the second player in Division I history to do so.  

Along with Anigwe's dominance, Cal could be considered the hottest team in the tournament. The Golden Bears have won four in a row, with their biggest win in that streak coming against then No. 17 Arizona State 69-60.

Redshirt junior forward Borislava Hristova leads the Cougars, averaging about 20 points and almost 6 rebounds per game. She, along with senior center Maria Kostourkova, who averages 1.3 blocks per game, will have to limit Anigwe's effect on the game. 

If they don't, they could be looking at another dominant performance from Anigwe, who is the Pac-12's second-leading scorer and the nation's best rebounder.

(Winner faces No. 2 Stanford Cardinal)

No. 8 Arizona Wildcats versus No. 9 USC Trojans

This game can end up going either way, with Arizona winning the previous matchup with the Trojans 71-68. 

Arizona is led by redshirt sophomore guard Aari McDonald, the nation's third-leading scorer averaging nearly 25 points per game. However, the Wildcats only have one other player averaging over ten points per game, who is freshman forward Cate Reese.

USC is led by senior guard Aliyah Mazyck and junior guard Minyon Moore, both of whom average over 15 points per game and two-and-a-half steals per game. 

Both teams are around the middle of the pack offensively and defensively. However, Arizona is carrying a four game losing streak coming into this game, while USC has won two in a row.

If the Trojans can keep up with McDonald's scoring like they did in their previous meeting, expect this game to once again to go down to the wire.

(Winner faces No. 1 Oregon Ducks)

Reach the reporter at and follow @HorseySeven on Twitter.

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Jeffrey HorstDigital editor-in-chief

Jeffrey Horst is the digital editor-in-chief of The State Press. He previously served as the publication's sports editor and worked at Cronkite News and

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