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Ionescu’s Court: Can the Bruins beat the Ruth-less Ducks?

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Oti be a good game!

NCAA Womens Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament-UCLA vs Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

This Friday, at 8 PM on the PAC-12 NETWORK, the UCLA Bruins will visit Eugene and attempt to dethrone the reigning Queens of PAC-12 basketball.

Can the Bruins take down the Ducks? All rise! Ionescu’s court is in session.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament-UCLA vs Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

SEASON THUS FAR

RECORD: 16-10, 9-5

BEST WINS: #25 Rice, @ California, @ #17 Arizona State, @ Utah

WORST LOSSES: Loyola Marymount, North Carolina, USC

COMMON OPPONENTS: the rest of the PAC-12

LAST 5 GAMES:

  • W (2/3) Washington, 76-60
  • W (2/8) @ Colorado, 64-60
  • W (2/10) @ Utah, 100-90
  • L (2/15) #7 Stanford, 51-65
  • W (2/17) California, 80-74

SUMMARY: UCLA has not been the same since Jordin Canada and Monique Billings graduated. Things got off to a bad start this season when they lost to Loyola Marymount at Gersten Pavilion. A win at home against #25 Rice was followed with victories over Georgia and Seton Hall, but the Bruins were then slapped in the face with four straight losses against teams not currently in the top 25.

Since their four-game losing streak, the Bruins have been perfectly average; defeating teams they should and losing to ranked teams, though there are a few exceptions. After losing to #7 Stanford, #12 Oregon State, #2 Oregon, and then a puzzling loss to USC, the Bruins squeaked out a 61-59 victory over #17 Arizona State, a team that has proven itself competitive against elite competition.

The Bruins beat their next five PAC-12 opponents: Arizona. Washington State, Washington. Colorado, and Utah. Against the Wildcats, Michaela Onyenwere scored 28 points and the Bruins snatched a triple overtime victory. Wins over the Washington schools and Colorado merely proved that UCLA wasn’t the worst of the PAC, while their victory over Utah looks less impressive now that the Utes have lost six in a row.

Having split the Bay Area games, UCLA will get another shot at upsetting the Oregon schools, starting with the Ducks.

CONFERENCE COMPARISON*

  • BRUINS score 74.4 PPG
  • DUCKS allow 61.4
  • BRUINS shoot 41.9% from the floor
  • DUCKS allow 39.5%
  • BRUINS shoot 36.6% from three
  • DUCKS allow 31.6%
  • BRUINS average 41.1 rebounds
  • DUCKS allow 31.0
  • BRUINS allow 72.4 PPG
  • DUCKS score 85.2
  • BRUINS allow 43.6% from the floor
  • DUCKS shoot 50.4%
  • BRUINS allow 34.9% from three
  • DUCKS shoot 45.2%
  • BRUINS allow 36.6 rebounds
  • DUCKS average 36.9
  • BRUINS average 13.1 assists/ 12.4 turnovers

(*all stats are from conference play)

PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR

Michaela Onyenwere

6’0, Forward, Sophomore

The Ducks would be wise to pay special attention to Sophomore Michaela Onyenwere. She’s currently averaging 20.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per PAC-12 game. Onyenwere has had ten 20-point games this season, though it’s worth mentioning she only mustered 13 points against the Ducks earlier this year.

Kennedy Burke

6’1, Guard, Senior

Oregon’s interior defense will be much more vulnerable without the size and skill of Ruthy Hebard. Perhaps senior Kennedy Burke will be able to take advantage of that. She’s currently averaging 14.1 points per game and hitting .480% from the floor. If Burke and Onyenwere heat up, the Ducks could be in for another close game.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Kansas City Regional-Texas vs UCLA Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

IONESCU’S VERDICT

If Hebard were healthy, this would surely be another blowout victory, but without one of their biggest stars on the court, this Duck roster is starting to look perilously thin. Oti Gildon should play big minutes this game, and strong games from either Ionescu or Sabally should help makeup for Hebard’s absence.

The game being in Eugene drastically increases Oregon’s chances, but it’s hard not to think about how devastating a loss would be to the Ducks. Oregon State is currently two games behind Oregon, and the season’s final game (at Tempe against #17 Arizona State) suddenly looks terrifying. Hopefully, the Ducks will be able to take care of business at home without the help of Hebard, then a win over either Arizona school (or a Beavers loss) would clinch the outright conference championship for Oregon.

THREAT LEVEL

12 out of 16 triple-doubles

SCORE PREDICTION

Ducks 82- Bruins 73