Pac-12 12 Things: Oregon, Oregon State civil war weekend takeaways

PALO ALTO, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Oregon State Center Joanna Grymek (11) during the women's basketball game between the Oregon State Beavers and the Stanford Cardinal at Maples Pavilion on February 9, 2019 in Palo Alto, CA. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PALO ALTO, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Oregon State Center Joanna Grymek (11) during the women's basketball game between the Oregon State Beavers and the Stanford Cardinal at Maples Pavilion on February 9, 2019 in Palo Alto, CA. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

All eyes this past weekend were on one of the highlights of every Pac-12 women’s basketball regular season: civil war weekend between the Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers. Here’s more on the themes of the two games and what we learned about both teams.

Part I

Ionescu ices Game 1

Sabrina Ionescu shot 12-of-24 from the field Friday night. Many of those looks were in the lane over a contest. Every opponent must decide what they’re willing to live with when playing Oregon. Ionescu shared afterwards that she wished she had knocked down more of those looks.

Ionescu’s Friday shot chart (ESPN)
Ionescu’s Friday shot chart (ESPN) /

The ones that did fall have to be deflating to a degree. Scott Rueck had the following to say on what his message is to his team in response to those tough shots going down.

“Go score,” Rueck said. “You’ve got to answer. Great players hit tough shots, contested shots. For the most part, we made her take the shots we would want. She took 24 shots to get to 29 today. That’s not bad.

“We held them to 45 percent. I would love for that to be lower, but this is a great offensive team. Let’s be a little bit better next time. Let’s look at what we can do to impact her just a little bit more.

“She’s gonna score. She’s gonna hit shots. So we’ve just got to limit it and make it as hard as possible.”

Aleah’s pretty good, man

Aleah Goodman gave the Beavers a big lift off the bench, scoring 10 of her 12 points in the first half on three drives to the rim and a pair of tough 3-pointers.

Destiny Slocum’s night was the inverse as she scored 17 of her 19 in the second half. Oregon succeeded with their switching defense. Some driving lanes or creases never appeared coming off a ball screen.

Grymek hits her stride

The Beavers lack the scoring option in the post to go after smaller defenders with their bigs after a switch occurs. OSU did connect with Joanna Grymek throughout the game as she used her 6-foot-8 frame to set up as a big target under the basket.

None of OSU’s bigs have stepped forward into roles as back to basket scorers, hardly a fatal blow to the team’s overall ceiling. Grymek and Patricia Morris showed flashes of solid 1-on-1 post defense in addition to timely help around the rim without fouling.

The Beavers need that defensive presence above all else. Their guards are dynamic enough to penetrate and create looks for the bigs at the basket.

Boley kept under wraps

Erin Boley attempted just two shots all night, a gameplan victory for an Oregon opponent by any standard. Her lone make came in the second quarter on the move as a pick and roll occurred. Oregon State was ready for the first one, but didn’t quite close in time to prevent the second.

This was a fun wrinkle on an action Oregon has turned to several times this season. It involved Ionescu, Boley and Satou Sabally. The Ducks have also run it with Hebard. This variation is even trickier to guard because all three players are 3-point shooting threats:

Oregon separates, just like that

The game truly does change in an instant going up against Oregon. Any misssed shot, any gamble for a steal, any untimely turnover will ignite their transition game. OSU watched two of those plays swing in the Ducks’ favor in the second quarter.

Those two sequences alone among to as much as a 10 to 12 point swing. As we saw later in the game, clawing away at a deficit against the Ducks is a steep climb.

The first Ionescu third quarter 3-pointer pushed her team’s lead to nine. The Beavers got back within five and appeared to be in good shape heading into the fourth. Neither team scored for more than two and a half minutes, save for free throws by Ruthy Hebard.

Then the teams traded scores and Ionescu drilled another triple in the final minute of the period, pushing the lead to 10.

OSU ripped off four quick points and the ball found Katie McWilliams alone at the top of the key in transition. That one didn’t fall for the 40-plus percent 3-point shooter. Kelly Graves used a timeout to refocus his team. Oregon went on to score on their next three possessions.

OSU refused to go away, making it a two possession game heading into the final TV timeout. Oregon went stop, score, stop, score to extend the lead to 11 with 3:07 to play.

And there’s the challenge in toppling the Ducks. They may not explode for a monster scoring run that puts you in a 15-plus point hole. But they put five scoring threats—dynamic scoring threats, to be clear—on the floor at the same time.

You feel a run coming even when they aren’t on top of their game. Marginal deficits feel much larger.

And before you know it, they’ll string together a pair of stops and scores. Suddenly reality catches up with the pressure their lineup exerts on an opposing defense before you know it.

Part II

No Ruthy

This was the story of the weekend. The “no disrespect” disclaimers aren’t even necessary. Oregon was missing its third (or second, depending on who you ask) player for nearly 75 percent of the game due to injury.

The Ducks’ lauded scoring balance disappears without Hebard on the floor, plus they have to absorb the effects of the drop off from her to the rest of the bigs in extended minutes. Remember those promising moments Morris had on Hebard in the post Friday night? Hebard was having none of it early.

The latest on Hebard’s status: bone bruise, no structural damage and is questionable for this weekend’s home tilts with UCLA and USC.

Grymek strikes again

What more needs to be said at this point? Considering the opponent the past two games, it might be safe to say at this point that the Beavers know what they’re getting at center for 20 to 25 minutes a game by now.

Slocum and Goodman force a lot of switches because of their burst and off the dribble 3-point shooting, respectively. Grymek (and the spread floor she gets to play in) creates a lot of problems when she screens and makes a beeline for the front of the rim.

She got an easy bucket early doing just that and created an open 3-pointer later in the period for Taya Corosdale.

Oregon was so worried about her in the lane that they opened themselves up to a skip to the corner as they tried to “scram” the smaller defender out of there.

Goodman follows up (and exceeds) Friday performance

Goodman really set the tone for the Beavers offensively on Monday, checking in for Slocum less than two minutes into the game. She drilled a 3-pointer out of a baseline out of bounds play, burned Hebard by relocating for an open triple and caught the Ducks ball-watching on the back side with a third first quarter 3-pointer.

Needed more Satou

Sabrina Ionescu attempted 49 shots this weekend. 31 of them were 2-point jump shots or runners, many of which were heavily contested.

Ionescu’s Monday shot chart (ESPN)
Ionescu’s Monday shot chart (ESPN) /

Oregon State wanted her to take those shots. She beat them with them Friday night. Those are the shots she can get whenever she wants, against any opponent. Hebard-less minutes aside, I think it’s time for Kelly Graves to dial up more stuff for Satou Sabally.

Monday’s game devolved into a grind-it-out, one action and shoot kind of game for Oregon. The Ducks don’t like to play that way, but really good teams will force them into some of it. Of course they need Hebard to add scoring balance from the post, but they also need to tap into Sabally’s ability to get all the way to the rim.

Play of the week: Maite Cazorla

The Ducks still had ample opportunity to win the game, this play by Cazorla high atop the list of reasons why.

Things come full circle for Grymek to seal it

How fitting for Grymek to make one of the key plays in crunch time doing the simple yet tremendously effective thing that raises this team’s floor so much: Carve out space under the rim, hold your hands up high, catch and finish.

Which Pac-12 teams make the field?

Michelle Smith set the table for these final two weeks of Pac-12 women’s basketball regular season play in her weekly feature. Oregon, Stanford, Oregon State and Arizona State have to be seen as locks to make the field. Perhaps even UCLA has already arrived at that point.

But Stanford and Oregon State have some jockeying to do for second place in the regular season standings. (Each conference needs some sort of scheduling czar to step in to adjust these unbalanced schedules before the start of each season. It’s silly to let a season go by without having all the best teams play each other twice.)

ASU needs to collect some wins to lock itself in a No. 4, plus their remaing slate presents ample opportunity to prove they deserve an even higher NCAA seeding.

I’d imagine everybody expects the aforementioned top five to make the field. The big question facing the next four (Utah, Arizona, USC, Cal): What can they accomplish in the next three weeks to prove that they deserve a bid, too?

Arizona will have more opportunities to make a statement, as they play the Bay Area and Oregon schools. UCLA could get a crack at Oregon without Hebard. Their matchup with Utah the final weekend will be key. USC fits the bill as the team that could crash the field by playing their best ball at the right time. And if Cal is the team many expected them to be, I think they need to sweep their remaining slate with the Arizona and Washington schools.

Previous editions of the column: Week 14 | Week 13 | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1

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