Oregon’s young squad heads to semifinals of Pac-12 tourney impressing their coach along the way
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) March 2, 2018
SEATTLE – Oregon (28-4) had no trouble putting away Colorado (15-16) in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament Friday at KeyArena. With a young squad that has played fearless all season long, head coach Kelly Graves expressed pride and amazement at his top-seeded squad comprised primarily of underclassmen.
“I was just impressed with our energy, on both ends of the floor,” Graves said postgame. “Defensively, offensively, we were on point. We spread the floor. We were shooting it well, the right people were getting the shots. It was just a really good game. I told them after the game they were inspiring, and I was a really proud coach.”
The Ducks began their wire-to-wire victory with an 8-0 run that included two three-point shots. The treys kept coming throughout the contest as Oregon tied the tournament single-game record for three pointers at 13.
While No. 9 seed Colorado earned a spot in the quarterfinals with a victory over the No. 8 seed Utah on Thursday, the Buffs did not have enough offensive firepower to match the Ducks Friday afternoon.
Graves was mindful of the potential of an upset in the quarterfinals and his team did not take Colorado, headed by second-year head coach JR Payne, lightly.
“I want to congratulate JR and her team. I thought they had a great tournament,” said Graves. “I thought yesterday they played about as well as they could have, and we certainly anticipated a tough game today. I know our team did, and I think that motivated us to come out really strong.”
By the half, Oregon had a whopping 45-18 lead. While Colorado did not get down on themselves and continued to fight, a 22-0 Ducks run in the third quarter largely helped the seal the deal for an Oregon win.
The newly crowned Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Oregon’s Satou Sabally led all scorers with 21 points plus four rebounds. Three other players were in double figures: Lexi Bando (19), Ruthy Hebard (11) and the Pac-12 Player of the Year, Sabrina Ionescu (10). Hebard also pulled down 11 rebounds for a double-double.
Sophomore guard Ionescu, the NCAA record holder for triple-doubles, almost earned one as she dished out 13 assists and earned eight rebounds. Her 13 assists tied the tournament single-game record for that statistic. In addition, Ionescu is the only Oregon player that has started every game this season.
Mya Hollingshed paced Colorado with 20 points and six rebounds. Kennedy Leonard was also in double figures with 13 points.
Oregon will face the No. 4 seed UCLA in the semifinals on Saturday at 6 p.m. PT (Pac-12 Network).
- Oregon advances to the tournament’s semifinal round for fourth time and second consecutive season.
- This was the first tournament match-up between the two teams.
- In 17 tournaments, only once has the No. 1 seed failed to reach the semifinal round (Oregon State, 2015).
- The Ducks opened the second half by hitting their first 10 shots from the field.
- Oregon’s 37-point margin of victory was the third most in tournament history.