The No.8 Oregon Ducks (25-4, 14-2) barely beat the No.10 UCLA Bruins (21-6, 12-4) by a score of 101-94 in overtime. It was senior night in Eugene, Oregon and Lexi Bando and Justine Hall were aiming to achieve something that had not been done in 18 years by Oregon Women's Basketball, winning a regular season Pac-12 Championship.
Oregon started off hot at home, shooting at 75% accuracy and scoring 31 points in the first quarter. Maite Cazorla hit her first three attempts from beyond the arc and surpassed 1,000 points in her career.
The most notable storyline early on was Ruthy Hebard and her historic 33 consecutive field goals (though UCLA's Star Point Guard Jordin Canada also had a memorable night by breaking the PAC-12 career assist record with 765.) Hebard now holds the record for both men and women's basketball at the Division I level for consecutive field goals made.
The accurate three-point shooting of Maite Cazorla and Satou Sabally helped Oregon maintain a healthy lead for the majority of the game. Sabally specifically had a terrific night shooting the triple, hitting her first seven three-pointers in a game where she finished 7 of 9 from downtown.
Oregon led 57-41 at the half. They had thousands of screaming fans. They had home-court advantage and were shooting very well from deep. They had all the momentum in the world. Yet despite all these things, the Bruins fought their way to a much deserved overtime.
Going into this game the Ducks knew they had to find a way to contain UCLA's top two scorers, Jordin Canada and Monique Billings and for the first half they did (10 and 9 points respectively), but after what one would assume was an amazing locker room rally Canada and Billings dragged their team to a near-comeback.
Billings (26 Pts, 11-15, 10 Reb) was ferocious in the paint and contributed 11 points in a third quarter dominated by the Bruins. Canada (26 Pts, 9-17, 3-7 3 Pt) scored 14 crucial points and played like a true leader by doing whatever was needed of her in the closing minutes, whether it was using her speed to take it straight to the hoop, passing it after drawing double coverage or draining ridiculously deep threes.
The Ducks looked like a team on the ropes. With 4:12 to go UCLA tied the game at 85. The teams traded free throws and then a horrifying moment took place when Cazorla raced down the court for a layup only to fall and stay down in what looked like excruciating pain after a blocked shot. The Bruins quickly rushed the other direction for a Japreece Dean three-pointer and a 90-87 lead with a little more than two minutes left in regulation.
While Cazorla was being treated for what was most likely a severe cramp, Ionescu drew a foul and hit both of her attempts. Down by one, UCLA had three attempts at the triple as they snatched up back to back offensive rebounds but none were successful.
With less than 50 seconds remaining, Hebard grabbed what was most likely the most important defensive rebound of her career.
Ionescu drew another foul and had the opportunity to take the lead in the waning seconds of the game but missed 1 of her 2 free throws. UCLA had the final possession of regulation but missed what could have been an easy game-winning layup, instead sending it to the second straight overtime game for both of these teams.
For the first three quarters Sabrina Ionescu was not playing at her usual level of offensive excellence. She had 9 points and was 1 of 4 from three-point range, but when her team needed her most she delivered.
Ionescu scored 16 of her team's last 25 points and 7 of her team's 11 overtime points. She came up with a big steal, big rebounds and even sold a screen that resulted in an offensive foul to will her team to victory. She finished the game with 23 points, 12 assists and 6 rebounds.
And for those wondering, Cazorla not only returned to the game but made the final two points as the Duck faithful applauded Lexi Bando and Justine Hall.
Only two opponents remain for the Oregon Ducks before the PAC-12 Tournament in Seattle, Washington: Arizona State (2/23, 5pm, PAC-12 Network) and Arizona (2/25, 11AM, PAC-12 Network).