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No. 14 Arizona women’s basketball playing for pride and NCAA Tournament seeding at Oregon State

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 06 Women’s Oregon State at Arizona Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Before the final weekend of Pac-12 play started on Thursday, Arizona women’s basketball had the chance of finishing anywhere from third to fifth in the final league standings. What a difference a day makes.

The No. 14 Wildcats are locked into the No. 4 seed in the Pac-12 regardless of what happens on Saturday when they face Oregon State in Gill Coliseum. They could have climbed to third place if they had completed the weekend at 2-0 while No. 21 Colorado went 1-1—as long as Washington State didn’t jump USC in the standings.

CU obliged by losing its first game of the week to No. 3 Stanford, opening the door for the Wildcats to at least tie the Buffaloes. UA couldn’t keep up its end of the deal, losing to Oregon, which had been on a seven-game losing streak.

The Wildcats also could have fallen to fifth place if they went 0-2 in the state of Oregon while No. 17 UCLA went 2-0 at home. Washington State gave Arizona a hand in historic fashion. The Cougars defeated the Bruins in Pauley Pavilion for the first time in program history.

There is still a lot to play for when the Wildcats and the Beavers tip off at 1 p.m. MST on Saturday afternoon, though. Pride is first and foremost.

Oregon State is on a nine-game skid. On Thursday, the Beavers were the first Pac-12 victims of Arizona State this season. The Sun Devils got their first conference win this season by defeating OSU 75-73. ASU is 1-16 in the league and 8-18 overall in Natasha Adair’s first year at the helm.

Stopping the bleeding before going into the Pac-12 Tournament could improve the Beavers’ seeding in the conference tournament, as well. The Beavers currently trail California by one game for the 10th seed. Cal must play No. 21 Colorado on the road.

Then, there’s the matter of senior day. The Beavers will honor former Wildcat Bendu Yeaney on senior day. It will be her second straight senior day, albeit at a different school. At Arizona’s senior day last season, Yeaney announced that she would return to the Wildcats for her final year. A few weeks later, she entered her name into the transfer portal and landed closer to her Portland home.

It worked out for the best of Yeaney. She was able to be near her family when tragedy struck. Her brother was murdered just before the season started. She was not forced to deal with the horror without her family while thousands of miles from home.

There are roadblocks for both teams on the court, though. Injuries to critical team members are the biggest at this point. The Beavers’ star guard Talia von Oelhoffen announced earlier this week that she would not play again this season. She has been playing through an injury and is no longer able to do so.

The absence of von Oelhoffen would seem to give the Wildcats an advantage. However, Oregon was without their star freshman Grace VanSlooten on Thursday. The Ducks were still able to control all facets of the game.

The Wildcats have their own injury concerns. While she is still playing, Arizona’s starting point guard Shaina Pellington is reportedly not at 100 percent either.

Pellington was injured during the Utah game when she scored a career high 35 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and had five steals. Head coach Adia Barnes said that Pellington did not think she could finish that game.

“There was one point in the game she was like, ‘I can’t,’” Barnes said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, you can.’ I usually don’t do that. And I was gonna take her out at one point, and the whole bench is like, ‘No, a media is coming up.’”

After the game against the Utes, Pellington said that she felt like she would be ready to go when the team played the Buffs in two days.

“It’s doesn’t feel very good right now,” she said in the Utah postgame press conference. “It’s sore, but I feel like we have a really good athletic training staff and I feel like they’ll have me back and ready in no time—before the game against Colorado.”

Pellington followed that 35-point effort up with a 19-point game in the win against Colorado. She has since played in a third straight game, but there are reports that she is dealing with considerable pain to do so.

Pellington’s mother Arlene Hamilton posted on social media Friday afternoon that the point guard is playing with “possible torn ligaments” in her ankle. While Hamilton made it clear that ligament tears were not confirmed at that point—and neither Pellington nor Arizona has confirmed such a diagnosis—it at least suggests that Pellington is still fighting through pain to stay on the court.

To add to that, fellow backcourt player Jade Loville has an ankle injury. She played on Thursday but didn't start.

The game against the Beavers will be determined as much by the front court as the backcourt, though. Oregon State has a star in freshman Raegan Beers, and Barnes think they will use her to her fullest against the undersized Wildcats.

“I think they’re really going to try to pound it into Beers,” Barnes said. “Just bring the size. I think do what everybody else has been doing. I don’t think teams drastically change what they do this time of year—even us. We tried to change it up a little bit during the year, but it didn’t work. So, we’re going back to Arizona and doing what we do, and we’re going to make that work.”

No. 14 Arizona Wildcats (21-7, 11-6 Pac-12) @ Oregon State (11-17, 3-14 Pac-12)

When: Saturday, Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. MST

Where: Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Ore.

TV: Pac-12 Arizona

Streaming: Streaming is available via the Pac-12 Now app or online. Both options require a subscription via a TV provider. Streaming is also available with a subscription to a TV package that includes the Pac-12 Network via Sling, Fubo, or Vidgo.

Radio: Listen to the call by Derrick Palmer online on The Varsity Network or on the radio at KTUC 1400 AM.

Stats: Oregon State Live Stats

Rankings and standings: Arizona is ranked No. 14 in both the Associated Press Top 25 and the WBCA/USA Today coaches poll. Oregon State is not ranked in either poll.

The Wildcats are No. 14 in the Massey Rating, No. 24 in the NET, and No. 30 in Her Hoop Stats Rating. The Beavers are No. 59 in the NET, No. 63 in Massey, and No. 70 in HHS Rating.

Arizona is locked in at fourth in the Pac-12 standings. Oregon State is 11th but has the possibility of moving up to 10th.

Odds: DraftKings Sportsbook has Arizona tied with North Carolina State and Iowa State for the 14th-best odds to win the national title at +7500. There is no line on today’s game vs Oregon State.

How to follow along: Follow us on Twitter @AZDesertSwarm for all things Arizona Wildcats. For live tweets of women’s basketball and news throughout the week, follow our deputy editor @KimDoss71.