Cougs gear up for loaded Pac-12 Tournament

After capping off the regular season with a win on Senior Day against Colorado, the Cougar women’s basketball team found out on Sunday that they would be playing a rematch against Colorado in the Pac-12 Tournament today.

The Cougars are slotted as the seventh seed in the loaded Pac-12 with the likes of No. 6 Oregon State, No. 10 Stanford, No. 11 Washington and No. 15 UCLA.

Oregon State won the Pac-12 outright, posting a regular-season record of (27-3, 16-2), followed by Stanford and Washington who each fell one game short of tying OSU for the Pac-12 regular-season title with conference records of (15-3)

The top four seeds (OSU, Stanford, UW and UCLA) receive automatic first-round byes in the tournament and begin play in the quarterfinal round.

According to ESPN’s Bracketology, the Pac-12 is estimated to get six teams in the NCAA Tournament, but if a lower-tier team makes a deep run, there is a chance that team could be selected. The other two teams that ESPN believes could get in are Arizona State and Oregon. California is listed as a “bubble team” right now and is out of the tournament at the moment.

WSU is one of the teams that needs to make a run in this tournament to get an NCAA Tournament bid. Facing the Buffaloes team they just played on Saturday, the Cougars insist the game plan will remain the same.

“We’re excited to play Colorado again,” redshirt-sophomore forward Nike McClure said. “The game plan is basically the same as Saturday’s.”

One of the biggest keys for Thursday’s game will be containing Colorado sophomore guard Kennedy Leonard, who averages just over 17 points per game. In Saturday’s game, Leonard scored 17 points, but was inefficient, shooting 6-19 from the floor. Junior guard Caila Hailey will be tasked with defending the standout guard.

Over the last few games, sophomore guard Alexys Swedlund’s importance to her team became bigger than ever. With the injuries mounting for the Cougars throughout the season, the offense began to waiver, and Swedlund recognized how important it was for her to score the ball.

“As a shooter, my job is to put the ball in the hoop and play defense,” she said. “It comes from both sides, if we can play good defense, the offense will come.”

If the Cougars can secure a win against the Buffaloes on Thursday night, they would then take on the second seed Stanford Cardinal in the quarterfinals on Friday. The game against Colorado will start at 6 p.m. at the Key Arena in Seattle. The game will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Networks.