Pac-12 Conference Tournament Day 3 Notebook

PALO ALTO, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Oregon Forward Ruthy Hebard (24) defended by Stanford Forward Maya Dodson (15) during the women's basketball game between the Oregon Ducks and the Stanford Cardinal at Maples Pavilion on February 10, 2019 in Palo Alto, CA. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PALO ALTO, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Oregon Forward Ruthy Hebard (24) defended by Stanford Forward Maya Dodson (15) during the women's basketball game between the Oregon Ducks and the Stanford Cardinal at Maples Pavilion on February 10, 2019 in Palo Alto, CA. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Day three of the Pac-12 women’s basketball conference tournament in Las Vegas is in the books. Oregon and Stanford will meet Sunday in the championship game. Some notes, observations and analysis of both semifinal games:

Pac-12 Tournament Day 1 Notebook

Pac-12 Tournament Day 2 Notebook

(4) UCLA 83, (1) Oregon 88 (OT)

The Bruins came up just short, turning it over in the closing seconds as they trailed by three. The closing minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime were packed with whistles that impacted both sides, including a technical foul on UCLA head coach Cori Close with 3:07 to play in overtime.

The Bruins were leading by two at the time. Sabrina Ionescu (45 minutes, 18 points on 4-of-19 shooting) made both free throws and Ruthy Hebard (28 points on 13-of-18 shooting) scored on the ensuing Oregon possession.

Michaela Onyenwere spent some time on the bench in foul trouble once again, beginning with her second foul on a big swing play in the first. Kennedy Burke picked Ionsecu’s pocket near mid-court. Onyenwere scooped it up heading for the basket but Ionescu retreated in time to draw a charge—Onyenwere’s second foul.

Burke’s stellar play on both ends (27 points, 10 rebounds, three steals, two blocks) offset some of those lost Onyenwere minutes. Burke opened the game with a hard drive right into Satou Sabally and a 3-pointer in transition. She came flying into the picture to block Hebard inside as she had UCLA Japreece Dean pinned behind her on a cross-match in the second and drove through contact in the lane to pour in a sweeping finish with her off hand.

“Specifically with this team it just shows that we can compete with any team in the country,” Burke said of her team’s battles with the Ducks. “It just comes from loving each other and just being invested in each other, and just focusing on a game plan, and we did that. We still have more to go.”

Much of the game continued to swing on Hebard—Oregon’s ability simply to enter the ball into her and UCLA’s efforts to limit and disrupt those catches. As expected, the list of outcomes with guards switched onto Hebard ranged from easy scores to deflections or turnovers to passes that couldn’t happen because of some combination of fronting, ball pressure and help shading her way.

Oregon reserve Morgan Yaeger played 12 key minutes, knocking down three 3-pointers including one right at the horn to close the third quarter.

Japreece Dean was brilliant in crunch time once again. In the fourth quarter alone she drove in for an and one in transition, drilled a 3-pointer over Maite Cazorla, tossed in a floater in traffic and pulled up for a go-ahead triple with 45 seconds to play.

Hebard missed a shot at the rim on the next trip, but a jump ball was called after Burke came down with the defensive board. Hebard made the most of the second chance, cashing in with a bucket in the paint seconds later.

Hebard was called for a foul inside as Onyenwere turned to shoot from the middle of the lane. She split the pair. Oregon advanced the ball with a timeout, but Erin Boley was whistled for an offensive foul setting a screen before the ball was inbounded. UCLA got a chance to win it, but Dean’s heave at the buzzer was no good.

Kiara Jefferson had entered the game for starting big Lajahna Drummer, who fouled out with 1:12 left in regulation. Close’s technical occurred after her team’s third possession of overtime. Two Onyenwere scores at the rim sandwiched a strong take by Sabally. Onyenwere nearly scored a third time in a row off glass. A scramble ensued for the rebound. Burke’s tip didn’t fall, and an official assessed Close with the technical as the ball was headed back the other way.

Sabally lofted a moon ball of an entry pass in to Hebard, who was being fronted after a switch, for a bucket to cap the four point possession. After Jefferson tied the game with a gutty pull up jumper, Hebard got a chance to cash in on another second chance.

She drew a whistle on Burke but missed both free throws. UCLA turned it over, and Hebard scored in the paint again with about 90 seconds to play. Burke and Sabally traded buckets, meaning UCLA would get a chance to tie or take the lead in the final minute.

The ball found Jefferson for an open triple. She missed, UCLA extended the possession with an offensive rebound, then missed another open jumper. Sabally made one of two to extend the Ducks’ lead to three.

The Bruins failed to get the ball in to Dean for her to have a chance to work her magic once again off the bounce. Burke meandered into the lane and coughed it up.

Oregon advanced, ever so narrowly, to Sunday’s final.

“They have a lot of talent,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “We don’t have anybody on our team that plays like [Onyenwere]. We don’t have anybody that plays like Kennedy Burke. And Japreece Dean is as good a point guard as we’ve had to play, and this is a league full of really good ones.

“I’ve got them being a candidate to win several games in the NCAA. That’s a good team. Because we’re a good team who played well tonight, and we were pushed to the brink.”

(11) Washington 61, (2) Stanford 72

Did the Huskies run out of gas after two upsets over six seed Utah and three seed Oregon State?


They pieced together a second quarter surge to get within six after two tough driving scores by Amber Melgoza (32 points, 12-24 FG). The latter left enough time on the clock, though, for DiJonai Carrington to get off a heave from beyond halfcourt.

“That was the momentum, yeah. I felt like the first shot of the game, that was a bank three, and then the last shot of the second quarter was the half-court shot. Those six points, those were big six points by DiJonai,” Washington coach Jody Wynn said.

Carrington also hit a 3-pointer coming out of the half, doubling a six point lead with two flicks of the wrist.

“It gave us a lot of momentum, I think, going into halftime,” Carrington said. “And it kind of gave us a little bit more of a cushion.”

Washington got back within eight two different times. Both were immediately answered by back-to-back triples by Alanna Smith and Kiana Williams.

Stanford’s star trio shot 10-of-20 from deep while the Huskies shot a combined 8-of-26.

Washington can hold their heads high in the wake of this tournament showing after collecting just two regular season Pac-12 wins. The Huskies have shown glimpses throughout the past two seasons to capably defend quality opponents, and Melgoza returns as a go-to scorer to build an offense around.

If they find the right mix of shooters and possibly a secondary scorer on the perimeter, they could leap quickly into contention with the middle of the pack.

“I feel like we’re leaving the program in good hands,” senior guard Jenna Moser said. “Amber is our third captain, and we have a lot of young players who are really going to contribute a lot in the future character-wise and athletically. So I’m excited for them. I’m excited for Amber to get the opportunity to lead them next year.”

“I think she’s going to be great,” senior forward Hannah Johnson added. “Her work ethic is amazing. Every day I see her in the gym extra, and that’s something that we want Washington culture to be about.”

The Cardinal found scoring balance inside by way of Maya Dodson’s 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

“I was really excited about how Maya Dodson stepped up for us tonight,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “She’s been out a lot with her injury, and when we needed her to, she got right on that block.

“She finished. She made free throws. She was rebounding, playing defense. So it’s great to have kind of the old Maya back. We need her.”

Dodson will have her hands full Sunday with Hebard in the paint along with the responsibilities that come with guarding a team that can put five dynamic scoring threats on the floor at once.

“Ruthy Hebard is a great post player. From the last time we played them, I learned a lot about how she posts up every play and gets great position,” Dodson said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but I think as long as I play hard and also try to help my team out, call screens, it’s going to be a great game.”

Stanford will take on Oregon in the final at 8:00 PM ET on ESPN2.

Love our 24/7 women’s basketball coverage? Join our Patreon now and support this work, while getting extra goodies and subscriber-only content for yourself.