CORVALLIS — Three teams tied for conference lead with four to play
With just four games left in the Pac-12 women’s basketball season, three teams have distanced themselves in the hunt for the conference title.
Those three teams — Oregon State, Stanford and Washington — enter the home stretch with identical 12-2 records. UCLA is 9-5.
For the Beavers, who have won or shared the title the past two seasons, they hit the road to take on Colorado (4-10) and Utah (4-10) this weekend before closing at home against Stanford and California.
Stanford plays its home-and-home series with Bay Area rival California (5-9) this week before heading to the Oregon schools.
Washington, meanwhile, heads to the Los Angeles schools this week before wrapping up the season at home against Colorado and Utah.
All three teams are guaranteed a top-four seed in the Pac-12 tournament, set for March 2-5 in KeyArena in Seattle.
As Oregon State senior point guard Sydney Wiese said, this is where the fun begins.
Wiese and the Beavers know how tough the final four games will be and they can’t take anything for granted, especially after being upset Friday night by USC.
“I think it keeps you on your toes, you can’t get complacent,” she said. “You saw that on Friday. It makes it really fun because every day in practice you have to bring your ‘A’ game, you have to be mentally prepared, physically prepared and take care of yourself.”
Despite suffering a loss on Friday to fall back into a tie for first in the standings, coach Scott Rueck said he likes the position his team is in.
“This team has been through everything,” he said Sunday. “We know we have four tough games. Any road game in this conference is monumental, I don’t care where you are. And (Colorado and Utah) are two teams on the rise trying to gain momentum to get ready for the conference tournament so they’re looking for anything to grab on to.”
ASSISTING THE CAUSE
With her second assist on Saturday — hitting Gabby Hanson in stride for a transition layup early in the first quarter — Wiese set the Oregon State career assist record with her 578th, passing Leilani Estavan (2001-04).
She added seven more to finish with nine against UCLA and give her 585 for her career, which also tied her for ninth on the Pac-12 list with Jamila Wideman (Stanford, 1994-97).
“I think it just shows the talent that I’ve been surrounded by all four years, people who can finish plays,” Wiese said. “Coach Rueck always draws up great offensive sets and then it’s up to us obviously to finish the job and execute.
“I’m thankful to be in the position but I’m even more thankful for the people I can share it with. That’s the beautiful thing about assists is you can share the ball. Shoutout to all those people who made the shots over the years. It’s really them that has gotten them me to this point.”
UCLA would probably like to forget this past weekend, which saw the Bruins get swept by Oregon and Oregon State.
To make matters worse, the Bruins had to play the second half of Sunday’s game against the Beavers without starting point guard Jordin Canada, who was injured when she collided with Marie Gulich.
UCLA coach Cori Close did not give an update on her condition after the game Sunday.
All five of the Bruins’ conference losses have come on the road. They have won 25 straight overall at home with Washington coming to town Friday.
PLUM MOVING UP
Washington senior guard Kelsey Plum had another strong weekend and is just 42 points behind former Baylor star Brittney Greiner for second on the all-time NCAA scoring list. Plum has 3,241 career points and is 152 behind former Missouri State standout Jackie Stiles for the top spot.
The Ducks (7-7) moved into a tie for fifth place with Arizona State and reached .500 in conference play with the home sweep of the Bruins and Trojans.
Oregon can still get to fourth place, which would mean a first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu collected her fourth triple-double of the year in a win over UCLA on Friday and became just the second player to sweep the weekly player and freshman of the week awards. She averaged 16.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and eight assists.
UCLA's Nirra Fields was the only other player to win both awards the same week back in 2012.
Washington moved up one spot to No. 9 in The Associated Press poll on Monday. Stanford dropped from No. 8 to No. 10 and Oregon State fell from No. 9 to No. 11.
UCLA dropped from No. 15 to No. 18 and Arizona State fell out of the poll after being No. 23.
Oregon received two votes.
Washington entered the week No. 6 in the NCAA RPI numbers with Oregon State 10, Stanford 11 and UCLA 12. The ACC had three teams in the top nine and four in the top 13.