Stage set for Sunday’s title game
LAS VEGAS—Thoughts on an exciting Saturday night as the top four seeds clashed in the Pac-12 women’s basketball semifinals:
No. 1 Oregon 88, No. 4 Arizona 70
“They have no answer for that.”
Kelly Graves was referring to a zone set his team used to get Taylor Chavez two 3-pointers.
The sentiment also applied when painting with a much broader brush.
On a night when Arizona did several things quite well, the Ducks still surged ahead for a double-digit victory on the strength of 15-of-31 shooting from downtown. Arizona played a clean game with just seven turnovers and shot 10-of-21 from deep. What more can you do when Oregon catches fire?
“Oregon is one of the best teams in the country with so many offensive weapons, and just really hard to match up with,” Adia Barnes said postgame. “You know, you play a zone, they have shooters; you play man-to-man, they get you in rotation. They’re a really good team with a potential to win a championship.”
The Wildcats switched up their defenses effectively—man-to-man, a 2-3 zone, matching up with different assignments more in line with the Louisville approach back in November and even a box-and-one. Aari McDonald was efficient in scoring a game-high 34 points (14-of-25 shooting, 4-9 3PT) in 38 minutes. Sabrina Ionescu tallied 31 points (11-of-16 shooting, 6-9 3PT), nine rebounds and seven assists in 39 minutes.
The Ducks got their first bit of separation in the second. Ionescu found a crack in Arizona’s zone for a putback layup. Oregon doubled Arizona up on the offensive glass (14:7). Dominique McBryde missed a short jumper off glass, and Jaz Shelley came right back with a triple. Semaj Smith missed a layup over a helping Erin Boley; Ionescu converted her chance in the lane on the ensuing possession.
Moments later, the Ducks extended a trip with four offensive rebounds leading to a Ionescu spot-up triple. Chavez extended the lead to 10 after a McDonald missed layup—the first of two triples out of that zone overload set.
Oregon went early with the shot clock off at the end of the second. Satou Sabally missed a 3-pointer. McDonald stormed down and banked in one of her own to keep her team within 10.
The Wildcats got within six several times in the third. Oregon continued to pour it on with the threes. Chavez and Jaz Shelley set Boley and Ionescu up with bullet feeds that led to open 3-pointers early in the clock.
Ruthy Hebard got their inside-out game going, scoring around Smith, 6’7″, with ease in the post then kicking it right back out to Ionescu for a triple on their next possession.
As Cate Reese took a seat after picking up a fourth foul, Chavez helped put Arizona’s comeback hopes to bed with back-to-back triples in the fourth.
And where’d that second 3-pointer come from? Yep, you guessed it.
They had no answer for that.
Oregon will face Stanford in Sunday’s title game (8 PM ET, ESPN2).
No. 2 UCLA 51, No. 3 Stanford 67
Cue the comparisons to last season. The Cardinal will get another shot at Oregon in a Pac-12 title game after dropping both 2019-20 regular season meetings.
“It’s pretty simple,” Cori Close said. “Stanford was the tougher team tonight. They out-executed us. They played with more unified purpose than us.”
The Bruins couldn’t buy a bucket in the middle two quarters, shooting 7-of-30 from the field as Stanford pulled away. The Cardinal went on a 16-0 run in the third and led by as many as 26 early in the fourth. The rest was all cosmetic.
“In March, everyone is going to know what everyone does,” Close added on the offensive struggles. “You know, we know what they like to do, they know what we like to do…I don’t think it’s one person. I think it is, when they take away our first look at Michaela [Onyenwere], they take away our first isolation for Charisma [Osborne], going down the line, what’s our counter, the backside of that action?
“What are we doing at seven seconds left in the shot clock that’s still together, putting people in positions of strength? I thought we got good actions and we weren’t tough enough to finish them.”
Lexie Hull led the way with 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting. The sophomore knifed to the rim for some crafty finishes and made the Bruins pay with 3-pointers when they gave her a cushion on the catch.
“We had Lexie,” Tara VanDerveer said. “She really was the engine of this train today.”
Hull had another big scoring game (27 points, 6-12 3PT) late last month as the Cardinal managed to make things interesting in the second half in that second meeting with Oregon. Stanford will need more of the same from their No. 2 scorer to keep pace with the Ducks.
- Our Pac-12 tournament day two notebook:
Thoughts, analysis and quotes from day two of the 2020 Pac-12 women's basketball conference tournament from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
- Our Pac-12 tournament day one notebook:
Thoughts, analysis and quotes from day one of the 2020 Pac-12 women's basketball conference tournament from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
- The previous edition of ‘Around the Pac-12′ on UCLA’s loss to UW and Oregon clinching a share of the title with a second win over Stanford:
Breaking down the latest happenings in Pac-12 women's basketball including UW's upset win over UCLA and the second meeting between Oregon and Stanford.
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