Oregon opened its Pac-12 tournament play this evening as the #2 seed, facing off against the #7 seed UCLA Bruins. The Ducks came into the game having beaten UCLA during the regular season in their only on-the-court meeting, but also gaining a “forfeit win” when the Bruins were unwilling or unable to field a team for a scheduled January game. After a back-and-forth contest, Oregon stormed from behind, winning the final quarter 13- 7 to advance to the Pac-12 tournament semi-finals with a 63 - 60 victory over the Bruins.
Oregon opened the game with Nyara Sabally and Sedona Prince on the floor together, but it was Endyia Rogers who opened the scoring for Oregon, hitting a jumper for a 2 - 0 Ducks lead. In a sign of things to come, UCLA’s Charisma Osborne hit a 3-pointer at 8:32 to give the Bruins a 3 - 2 lead. After Sabally scored to put Oregon back on top, UCLA scored on an offensive rebound and put-back, which was another sign of things to come. After the Bruins ran out to a 9 - 6 lead, Te-Hina Paopao missed a jumper, but the ball was tipped out to Sydney Parrish who hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 9 - 9 with 5:20 left in the quarter. The Bruins hit another 3, but a 7 - 0 Oregon run featured two Prince free throws, an Ahlise Hurst 3 and a Sabally layup to give Oregon a 16 - 12 lead with 2:46 left. Oregon, however, could not keep the Bruins off the offensive glass, and UCLA rebounded misses and scored twice to take a 17 - 16 lead with 1:37 left. To this point, 10 of UCLA’s 17 points had come off 2nd chances. Neither team could score over the last minute and a half, and the first quarter ended with UCLA leading 17 - 16. Sabally and Prince led the Ducks with 4 points each in the quarter, while Parrish and Hurst each had 3. Prince and Sabally had 4 rebounds apiece, and Rogers added 3 assists. Prince matched her season rebounding average in the first quarter. The Ducks shot 42 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. UCLA shot 36.8 percent from the field, and 3 - 8 from 3-point range.
The game see-sawed in the opening minutes, with UCLA again crashing the offensive glass to go up 19-16 early. A Kylee Watson free throw and a Rogers 3 put the Ducks back on top 20 - 19 with 8:42 left. The teams traded baskets and Oregon eventually turned the tables, as Prince grabbed an offensive rebound and scored inside to give Oregon a 29 - 27 lead with 2:43 left in the first half. UCLA hit another 3-pointer as the shot clock expired and had another put-back on an offensive rebound, while the Ducks scored only 2 Rogers free throws over the remainder of the quarter. At halftime, it was UCLA 32, Oregon 31. Prince and Sabally led Oregon with 8 points each in the half and Rogers added 7. Sabally had 8 rebounds and Prince 6. Rogers dished out 4 assists and Paopao 3. Oregon shot 37.9 percent from the field and 3 - 9 from the 3-point arc. Oregon went 6 - 10 from the charity stripe in the half. UCLA shot 32.5 percent from the field, and 6 - 15 on 3-pointers. In a statistical sign of their work on the offensive glass, UCLA shot the ball 40 times in the half, while Oregon managed only 29 shots.
The game remained very close during the early part of the third quarter. UCLA began driving the ball, and then dishing for easy baskets inside when Oregon defenders closed them down. The Bruins opened a 37 - 32 lead - their largest of the game to that point - at 8:32 on a drive and dish inside, and a drive and dish outside for another 3. Over the next minute, Oregon battled back to close to 37 - 36 on a Rogers layup off a rebound and a Sabally stop-and-pop for 2. The teams continued to play each other close as Parrish and Paopao hit shots, but UCLA scored another basket inside and hit a 3 to gain a 48 - 43 lead with 3:35 left in the quarter. Paopao scored twice more, sandwiched around another Bruin 3 and UCLA maintained its 5-point lead on two free throws with 3:00 left. Oregon cranked up its defense a peg with good inside play from Sabally and a blocked shot, but UCLA hit another 3-pointer and still led by 5 - 53 - 48 - with 59 seconds in the quarter. Rogers hit 2 free throws and UCLA missed a 3 at the buzzer to end the quarter and UCLA led 53 - 50. Rogers had a big quarter, scoring 7 in the third to lead the Ducks for the game with 14 points, and Sabally had 11. Sabally also had 12 rebounds and Prince added 11. Paopao had 5 assists and Rogers 4. Oregon had shot 40 percent from the field through 3 quarters and was 5 - 15 from behind the 3-point line. UCLA was shooting 38.9 percent, and was 9 - 20 from 3-point land, going 3 - 5 from beyond the arc in the third.
Another close game down the stretch for Oregon beckoned, with quite a bit on the line. With a win, the Ducks could be the likely host of a first-round NCAA tournament game, and of course would move on to the semi-final matchup in the Pac-12 tournament. For much of the fourth quarter, your Ducks played like they understood what was at stake. Oregon took its first lead since 2 Endyia Rogers free throws made it 31 - 30 just before halftime as Sabally scored inside on a pick-and-roll play with Prince to make it 54 - 53 Oregon with 8:02 left in the game. Paopao nailed a trey to put Oregon up 57 - 53, but UCLA went back to the “layup off offensive rebound” play, and managed to draw a foul, but missed the subsequent free throw, to only cut the Oregon lead to 2. After both teams traded turnovers and missed shots, UCLA tied the game at 57 on a jumper with 5:23 left. UCLA would take what would turn out to be its final lead of the game, on yet another 3-pointer that just beat the shot clock, at 60 - 59 with 4:14 remaining. Both teams went 3 minutes or more without scoring, and Oregon’s remaining points came from the free throw line - the Ducks made 4 straight free throws while holding UCLA scoreless over the last four minutes. UCLA had to foul repeatedly over this time to even reach enough team fouls to put the Ducks at the foul line, allowing Oregon to milk the clock. Finally, UCLA missed a 3 at the final buzzer, giving Oregon a hard-earned 63 - 60 victory.
For the game, Endyia Rogers led Oregon with 16 points, while Nyara Sabally added 15 and Sedona Prince 12. Sabally had 15 rebounds while Prince had 12. Rogers added 6 assists and Te-Hina Paopao 5. Oregon shot 40 percent from the field and 6 - 17 from 3-point range. Oregon ended up 13 - 18 from the free throw line, where they had a decided advantage over the Bruins who managed only 4 trips to the charity stripe, making only 2. UCLA shot 36.4 percent from the field and was 10 - 24 on threes.
Oregon now awaits the winner of the Utah/Washington State game in the semi-finals. At press time, the Utes were leading 45 - 25 at halftime. That game is scheduled for 8:30 pm tomorrow, Friday March 4 on Pac-12 Networks. Join The_Badwater for the game right here on ATQ.