LOS ANGELES - Welcome to the Stanford Invitational, otherwise known as the Pacific-10 Conference women's basketball tournament.
Just as the second-ranked Cardinal (27-2) is the overwhelming favorite to capture a fifth consecutive championship, the Washington Huskies and Washington State Cougars are overwhelming favorites to get knocked out of the tournament early again.
The seventh-seeded Huskies (11-16), who have lost five of their past six games, take on No. 6 seed California (15-14) at 7:15 tonight in the final game of opening-round play at USC’s Galen Center. The Bears have lost seven of eight, and they’re 0-2 against Washington this year.
Washington State (8-22), the No. 8 seed, faces fifth seed USC (18-11) at 5 p.m. The Cougars have lost five straight games, but they snapped an 18-game losing streak against USC last year and led the Trojans by seven in the second half last Thursday at USC before losing, 74-67.
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All of today’s games will be streamed live on the Pac-10’s new YouTube network, which can be found at www.youtube.com/Pac10Conference.
The Huskies have never won more than one game at the 10th annual Pac-10 tourney. They’ve dropped their first-round game four of the past five years.
WSU, suffering through its 15th straight losing season, is 0-9 all-time at the tournament.
It’s easy to see why Washington and WSU have struggled this season. The Huskies shoot just 38.9 percent from the field and average 18.8 turnovers. The Cougars shoot 38.2 percent and average 19.5 turnovers.
The Huskies rely heavily on 3-point gunner Kristi Kingma, who ranks third in Pac-10 scoring at 15.8. WSU’s leading scorer, freshman guard-forward Sage Romberg, averages just 9.3 points per game.
California is led by all-conference forward-center DeNesha Stallworth (14.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg).
Junior guards Briana Galbreath (15.2 ppg) and Ashley Corral (12.2 ppg) made the all-conference first team for USC, which is coached by former Los Angeles Lakers star Michael Cooper.
The new tournament format gives Stanford and seventh-ranked UCLA (26-3) double byes into Friday’s semifinals as a reward for finishing first and second, respectively, in the league standings.
Stanford has won 11 straight regular-season titles and is 55-0 against Pac-10 teams since losing to California in January 2009.
Pac-1o women’s tournament
Arizona State vs. Oregon State, noon
Arizona vs. Oregon, 2:15 p.m.
USC vs. Washington State, 5 p.m.
California vs. Washington, 7:15 p.m.