As hungry as the bubble-team Oregon men were against Arizona on Saturday night to get a win to boost their NCAA tournament resume, the Washington State women will be the same way Sunday against Adia Barnes’ team and the Cougars will be playing at home.
On top of that, it will be Senior Day at Pullman, Wash.
Tipoff is at 1 p.m., Tucson time, and it will be carried live on Pac-12 Networks (Greg Heister and former Gonzaga standout Stephanie Hawk-Freeman calling the action) and also KTUC (1400-AM) with Brody Dryden on the call.
The Cougars (17-8, 9-5 Pac-12) are considered to be one of the “First Four Out” in ESPN’s latest bracketology projections for the NCAA tournament. They are 0-5 against AP Top 25 teams this season.
Arizona (19-4, 9-4) is rated as a No. 2 seed hosting the first and second round at McKale Center.
The Wildcats are coming off one of their most ineffective games, especially on offense, and they still beat last-place Washington 51-42.
Washington State is in a different … state … than Washington.
The Cougars come into Sunday’s game seeking their 10th Pac-12 win of the season, which would tie the program record for most conference wins in a single season. The 1990-91 team set the WSU record for most conference wins in a season with 10.
WSU is also close to the program record for most wins in a season in the NCAA era. The Cougars, going for their 18th win, have not won that many games since the 1990-91 season. The program record for most wins in a season is 21, which was set in 1978-79.
Arizona, meanwhile, is looking to reach 20 wins in a season for the fourth time in the Barnes era (she is in her sixth season coaching at her alma mater). The Wildcats have 12 seasons in which they have reached 20 wins.
The Wildcats hold a 40-30 series record against Washington State, including 18-16 in Pullman. The Cougars upset Arizona last season in overtime 71-69 on Jan. 10, 2021. Arizona has won the last two games, including a 60-52 win on Jan. 7 at McKale Center.
Arizona — Adia Barnes achieved her 100th win at Arizona last month in her sixth season at her alma mater. Her record is 108-70 (which is also her career mark). She is 88-30 (.746) since starting 20-40 in her first two seasons of rebuilding the program.
Washington State — Kamie Ethridge is 132-105 overall in eight years of coaching at Northern Colorado and Washington State. She is 49-61 in four years with the Cougars after going 83-44 in four seasons at Northern Colorado.
WHEN ARIZONA HAS THE BALL
— Cate Reese is coming off scoring a season-low six points against Washington on Friday, but she is still averaging 16.2 points per game in Pac-12 play, ranking fourth. Shaina Pellington, who led the Wildcats with 10 points against the Huskies, is 10th at 14.4 points a game. A concern for Barnes with both is if they get in foul trouble. Others have to step up to fill the offensive void.
— Sam Thomas ranks second in the Pac-12 in 3-point percentage (.468). She made a crucial 3-pointer late against Washington after the Huskies went on an 8-0 run. Thomas’ assist-to-turnover ratio (3.1) ranks second in the Pac-12.
— While Helena Pueyo is not known for her playmaking ability when she replaces Pellington at point guard, she is steady as she goes. Pueyo leads the Pac-12 with a 3.4 assist/turnover ratio.
— WSU is allowing teams to score only 59.5 points a game. The Cougars have held teams to less than 65 points in all but six games this season. WSU is 14-0 this season when holding teams to less than 60 points.
— Krystal Leger-Walker, one of the seniors who will be honored as part of Senior Day, is No. 8 in the Pac-12 with 1.76 steals per game.
WHEN WASHINGTON STATE HAS THE BALL
— Washington State second-year player Charlisse Leger-Walker (Krystal’s younger sister) ranks fourth in the Pac-12 averaging 16.2 points per game. She will look to have a good game against Arizona after finishing with only seven points on 3-of-13 shooting with five turnovers in the Cougars’ loss at McKale Center last month.
— The Cougars rely heavily on the 3-point shot. They are second in the Pac-12 with 549 attempts from beyond the arc and third in made 3-pointers with 171.
— Johanna Teder leads the Cougars with 48 made 3-pointers while shooting 34 percent from beyond the arc.
— After holding Washington to 42 points (including a school-record seven points in the first half), Arizona tops the Pac-12 in scoring defense allowing only 56.3 points a game.
— Arizona is second in the Pac-12 forcing 19.1 turnovers per game. Opponents have reached at least 20 turnovers nine times this season.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District