Las Vegas, OR – The No. 2-seeded Oregon Duck women’s team faced off against No. 7-seeded UCLA in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament at the Michelob Ultra Arena at Mandalay Bay. The teams faced each other once during the season with the Ducks coming out on top 67-53 in Eugene in mid-February. The Ducks scored the last four points of the game at the foul line, and survived a late three-point shot by UCLA, to eke out a hard-fought 63-60 win. Nyara Sabally (15 points, 15 rebounds) and Sedona Prince (12 points, 12 rebounds) both registered double-doubles to the Ducks. Endyia Rogers led Oregon with 16 points. Jaelynn Penn and Iimar’l Thomas led the Bruins with 18 points each.
The first quarter was evenly contested with the Bruins holding a 17-16 lead at the stanza’s close. UCLA’s Penn was very active and led all scorers with ten points hitting 2-of-3 from deep and 4-of-9 overall. The Indiana transfer took her nine shots in nine minutes of action. Oregon connected on 2-of-4 3s,. Three-point shooting is crucial for Oregon as they have not shot it well of late, including a 0-of-16 effort from deep at home against Cal. The Ducks committed three turnovers while the Bruins had an error free quarter.
Thomas’s inside basket put UCLA up at the half 32-31. Both teams were careful with the ball throughout the half with only four combined turnovers but neither squad shot very well. The Bruins hit only 13-of-40 (32.5%) but did hit on 6-of-15 3s. The Ducks made only 11-of-29 overall and 3-of-9 from deep. UCLA only got to the foul line once while Oregon made 6-of-10 from the charity stripe. UCLA’s Penn led all scorers at the break with 13 points. Oregon’s bigs, the 6-5 Sabally (8 points, 8 rebounds) and the 6-7 Prince (8 points, 6 rebounds) were both active and effective inside. Sabally has been limited somewhat recently by some nagging injuries that has reduced her playing time, but she played 18 first half minutes.
Both teams leading scorers got off to slow starts tonight with UCLA’s Charisma Osborne missing nine of her first ten shots and Oregon’s Te-Hina Paopao missing her first six before hitting a long two-pointer that cut UCLA’s lead to 43-41 midway through the third quarter. The Bruins maintained a small lead through most of the period and took a 53-50 lead into the final stanza. Thomas scored nine third quarter points for the Bruins with the Cincinnati transfer connecting on one from deep. Rogers and Paopao combined for 13 points in the quarter for the Ducks on 5-of-8 shooting.
The Ducks scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to take a one-point lead, the second basket on a nice feed from Prince to Sabally down low. Paopao followed with a three from the top of the key to extend their lead to 57-53. UCLA wasn’t done as Thomas hit an end of the shot-clock three to put them up 60-59. Rogers made two free throws with 1:27 left and after unsuccessful possessions from each team the Bruins had the ball with 23 seconds remaining. The Ducks then forced an Osborne turnover, thanks to good defense from Maddie Scherr, under the Oregon hoop with 7.3 seconds remaining. Scherr only played seven minutes, as she is recovering from injury, but helped contain Osborne in key moments of the game. Osborne shot only 2-of-13 but had seven rebounds and eight assists. UCLA then had to foul three times to send the Ducks to the foul line. Sabally was fouled with 3.8 seconds left and made both attempts to give Oregon a 63-60 lead. Penn missed a good look on a three-pointer on the last shot of the game as Oregon held on for the win.
Both teams played good defense throughout and there were only 12 total turnovers, seven by Oregon and five for UCLA. Neither team shot well with Oregon at 40 percent overall and UCLA at 36 percent. The Ducks connected on 6-of-17 3s (35.3 percent) while UCLA shot better from deep (10-of-24, 41.7 percent). Led by Sabally and Prince the Ducks had a +10 rebounding advantage.
Oregon (20-10, 12-6) will face the winner of the Washington State-Colorado game in the semifinals tomorrow night. A win would put them in the finals, likely against Stanford.