Sunday, June 24th, 2018

Oregon heads to Pac-12 tournament final for the first time, survives gritty contest vs. UCLA, 65-62

Published on March 3, 2018

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SEATTLE – Top-seeded Oregon (24-7, 14-4) survived a tough back-and-forth contest to come from behind in the last quarter and beat No. 4 seed UCLA (29-4, 16-2) in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament 65-62 at KeyArena Saturday night.

With the win, Oregon will be making its first-ever Pac-12 tournament final appearance. The Ducks bring an eight-game winning streak into the title contest.

UCLA and Oregon seemed to bring out the best in each other as they battled in the gritty matchup. Ducks head coach Kelly Graves had high praise for the Bruins.

“That’s a Final Four caliber team with Final Four caliber athletes and a coaching staff, and for some reason, they bring out the best in us,” Graves said “That’s for sure. I don’t know if I want to play them again or if I don’t want to play them again. Just seems like every time we do, it’s one of those great games.”

UCLA head coach Cori Close also commented on the high level of play in the contest.

“That’s an Elite Eight level game,” Close said.

UCLA looked ready to upset the Ducks by coming out of the gate on a 5-0 run instigated by senior guard Jordin Canada who drained a trey at 9:47. The Bruins continued their offensive efforts, coupled with great defense to earn a 19-14 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Oregon performed better offensively in the second quarter to outscore UCLA 18-15. However, it wasn’t enough to overcome the first quarter deficit as UCLA went into the break with a 34-32 lead.

The third quarter was topsy turvy affair with both teams battling to hold on to the lead. There were four lead changes in the period with the evenly matched squads playing great defense in an attempt to stifle their opponent. It made for a gritty game as the teams scrapped for the ball on numerous occasions.

By the end of the third quarter, UCLA still had a slight edge, 51-48, with the Ducks right on their heels. The tide turned for Oregon late in the fourth quarter as UCLA failed to make some crucial shots and the Ducks’ bench came up big.

While UCLA’s bench outscored Oregon’s bench 11-6, it was the efforts of junior forward Oti Gildon who checked in at 6:05 in the last quarter that made the biggest difference. She made an immediate impact sinking two free throws, getting a steal and making a layup at 0:31, the very last shot of the game for both teams.

Gildon’s layup gave Oregon a three-point lead. UCLA made a frantic effort to open up space for a clear three-point shot to tie it up but it was a no go as their point guard Canada was not able to find an open player or create space herself.

Canada was hard on herself in the postgame press conference, putting the responsibility squarely on her shoulders for the unsuccessful effort.

Close was supportive of her point guard, pointing out the maturity of the senior.

“Jordin’s always going to take responsibility,” said Close, “and she’s going to take too much on with that.”

Four Oregon players were in double figures. Pac-12 Player of the Year, sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu finished with 17 points plus five assists. Sophomore forward Ruthy Hebard had a double-double of 15 points plus 13 rebounds. Junior guard Maite Cazorla contributed 14 points plus four rebounds while senior guard Lexi Bando added 11 points.

Canada paced UCLA with 19 points and fellow senior, forward Monique Billings scored 18 and pulled down nine rebounds. Junior guard Kennedy Burke was also in double figures with 14 points plus five rebounds.

Oregon will face the winner of the Arizona State -Stanford semifinal in the championship game on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN 2.

Notes

  • Oregon will be making its first Tournament final appearance. It carries an 8-game winning streak into the title contest. The Ducks last loss was 2/4 vs. Stanford.
  • UCLA’s Jordin Canada scored 46 points in the Tournament after tallying 27 on Friday. She had 46 assists in her tournament career, good for 2nd place (tie) on the all-time list.
  • The Ducks’ Ruthy Hebard had her 2nd double-double of the Tournament (11th of the season); she also had one in last season’s Tournament. Her 4 blocks equaled a career best (3rd time.)
  • Oregon committed only 7 personal fouls, its fewest of the season.

Social Media Recap

This post is part of the thread: 2017-18 College Season – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.


 

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