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Washington 91, Stanford 68
This game was over at tipoff. Washington stormed to a 22-4 lead to start the game, Stanford missed its first eight shots and it didn’t hit a field goal for almost 10 minutes. The Huskies ripped the Cardinal apart — Dejounte Murray scored 25 points and Andrew Andrews barely missed a triple-double with 14 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
Stanford’s defense was abysmal. Washington got open three after open three off of simple pick-and-roll actions, and it got them every possible way. The Huskies’ ball-handlers pulled up and drained it. Their screeners popped outside and drained it. They ran pindown screens on the weakside, and — go figure — they drained it.
“I thought we tried to force some issues and that led us down even a worse — led us into a worse direction,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “By trying to force plays, we turned it over a little too much. Allowed them to play to their strength, getting out in transition, and running and free shooting.”
Washington pushed the pace to a point that made Stanford visually uncomfortable. The Cardinal broke out a zone, but the Huskies shredded it with simple ball reversals. Stanford’s offense didn’t fare any better; it shot just 38 percent from the field and 14 percent from three. It couldn’t muster more than a 7-0 run midway through the second half, and that made no difference.
“We were all on the same page for most possessions, especially in the first half,” Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said. “When we switched, two guys knew exactly what the other was doing. We were timely. We were communicating.”
Washington will play Oregon in the quarterfinals Thursday at 1 p.m. MST.
Colorado 80, Washington State 56
Read here for more on this game.
USC 95, UCLA 71
Another game that was never close. USC dominated its crosstown rivals from start to finish; the Trojans held the Bruins to 38 percent shooting and overwhelmed them with a balanced offensive performance. USC got 19 points from Bennie Boatwright; 18 from Jordan McLaughlin; 16 from Nikola Jovanovic; and 10 points and 11 boards from Chimezie Metu, who dropped three of the nastiest dunks you’ll see this postseason.
UCLA needed its two streaky guards, Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford, to go off if it wanted to have a chance. Instead, they combined to shoot 5-of-23 and score just 20 points. The Trojans conceded a lot of open midrange shots to the Bruins, and UCLA forward Thomas Welsh capitalized on a lot of those opportunities; he led the Bruins with 12 points. But when your best offense is your power forward chucking elbow jumpers, you have problems.
“Our defense is key,” McLaughlin said. “We key on that in practice. We want to shrink the gaps and run people off the line, the shooters that are shooters, and we want to stick to the coach’s game plan.”
USC also attacked Alford on defense. He died on screens, and the Trojans’ guards blew by him and got to the rim at will. At one point, USC had a seven-point possession — Julian Jacobs got an and-one dunk, the foul was ruled a flagrant, he sank both free throws, then Katin Reinhardt buried a three off the inbounds pass.
“We just couldn’t find the right buttons and the right things to press to get this team to play at the level they’ve got to play at,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “Hopefully there’s been a lot of maturity and growing through all this, and hopefully we’ll do everything we can to rectify things.”
USC will play Utah in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 7 p.m. MST.
Oregon State 75, Arizona State 66
Wednesday’s nightcap was unbelievably sloppy. The Beavers dominated, and would have won by much more had they shot better than 41 percent or found any kind of offensive rhythm. The Sun Devils never got in sync, either. Oregon State’s defense smothered them and held them to 36 percent shooting.
The Beavers got 13 points from Stephen Thompson and 10 points, nine rebounds and four steals from Gary Payton II, the Pac-12’s defensive player of the year. Gerry Blakes scored 20 for Arizona State, but it took him 17 shots to get there.
“It was great to see our guys rally and give that defensive performance that they gave tonight,” Oregon State assistant coach Stephen Thompson said.
The teams traded scoring droughts of three to four minutes throughout the game. They both played a lot of zone defense, and neither team could dribble penetrate. They settled for threes and went painfully cold.
Anytime the Sun Devils got close, Oregon State pushed back hard, like at the beginning of the second half, when the Beavers responded to an Arizona State mini-run by ripping off seven straight points. Or the stretch about 10 minutes later, when the Sun Devils cut their deficit to seven, then went almost four minutes without scoring.
“One of our best team efforts of the whole season, offensively and defensively,” Thompson said.
Oregon State will play Cal in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. MST.