Tickets for the 2019 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament will go on sale soon, as the Pacific-12 Conference has been staging a women's league championship tournament in basketball since 2002. The 17th edition of the tourney will take place in March 2019 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, after six years of the event being held in KeyArena in Seattle. The Oregon Ducks are the defending champions after they defeated the Stanford Cardinal, 77-57, in last year's title game.
That may have been a bit of a surprise, as the Cardinal have won 12 of the 17 tournament titles in conference history. That means it is kind of an upset when Stanford does not win it. But after seven consecutive tourney victories for the Cardinal from 2007-2013, the USC Trojans (2014), the Oregon State Beavers (2016), and the Ducks have been able to keep Stanford (2015, 2017) from winning consecutive titles.
Who knows which school will win it all in 2019? The pattern might suggest the Cardinal again, but perhaps one of the Oregon schools can win again. Maybe a dark-horse, upstart challenger like the Washington State Cougars can emerge victoriously. You never know until they play the games, and that is why they play them.
Until the tickets go on sale, enjoy our list of the five best moments in Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament history!
5. Arizona State wins the first conference tournament title for women's basketball (2002)
The Stanford Cardinal went 18-0 in league play and finished the overall 2001-02 season with a 32-3 record after reaching the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. But it was the Arizona State Sun Devils who won the inaugural conference tournament with a 70-63 victory over Stanford in the title game. Even though Cardinal sophomore forward Nicole Powell was named the tournament MVP, the Sun Devils took home the team hardware. Arizona State finished the season with a 25-9 record after losing in the second round of March Madness, but the Sun Devils fans always remember which team won the first tourney title in conference history.
4. The Cardinal establish dominance in league tournament play (2005)
Stanford remains the only conference team to win the NCAA Championship in women's hoops, having accomplished the feat twice (1990, 1992). USC won national champions in 1983 and 1984, but the league wasn't yet sanctioning official conference play at the time as the transition in oversight from the old Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women to the NCAA was still happening. For the Pac-10 and then the Pac-12, it's almost always been about the Cardinal women in basketball. After losing the first title game in 2002, Stanford went on to win the next three tournament title tilts by an average of almost ten points a game. In 2005, the Cardinal got their revenge on the Sun Devils, knocking them off, 56-42, at HP Pavilion in San Jose. Stanford freshman guard Candice Wiggins won the first of her three tourney MVP awards.
3. The Beavers break through to win the conference championship (2016)
When Head Coach Scott Rueck arrived at Oregon State in 2010, the Beavers had not made the NCAA Tournament since 1996. With a few seasons, he had the Beavers challenging for the conference title. In 2014, Oregon State lost in the Pac-12 Tournament final to USC, and in 2015, the Beavers finally won their first conference regular season title. When the 2016 Pac-12 Tournament rolled around, it was Oregon State's time to ascend to the top. Beavers senior guard Jamie Weisner, a part of the rebuilding process the whole way in Corvallis, led OSU to a 69-57 victory over UCLA in the title game at KeyArena. The Beavers went on to make their first Final Four that March as well.
2. The UCLA Bruins stun Stanford for the title in an overtime thriller (2006)
With less than a minute to in the 2006 championship game, Stanford led UCLA, 70-65, and it seemed like the Cardinal would win yet another title, the fourth in a row. But the Bruins, led by senior guard Lisa Willis, were not having any of that. They tied the game at 70 to force overtime, and then with the score tied at 76 in the extra session, UCLA scored the final nine points of the game to claim the conference crown. Willis was named the tournament MVP, and Stanford would have to start its tournament winning streak over again the following season.
1. Stanford wins seven straight conference tournament titles (2013)
After losing that OT game in 2006, the Cardinal won seven straight conference tournament titles, including three over UCLA in 2010, 2011, and 2013, respectively. The last of those three finals was the closest, a 51-49 win at KeyArena in the first season the tournament was held in Seattle. Junior forward Chiney Ogwumike was the MVP in 2013, as Stanford clinched Lucky No. 7 in nail-biting fashion. The Bruins led at halftime, 27-26, but with less than ten seconds left, Ogwumike hit the game-winning shot for the Cardinal. UCLA had one last chance, but the Stanford defense held tight for the huge victory.