San Antonio TX – The Oregon women are headed to the Sweet Sixteen for the fourth straight year after defeating No. 3-seed Georgia 57-50 in a tough defensive battle. Sedona Prince, the Ducks’ 6-7 center, led the way with 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Nyara Sabally added 15 points, including several big shots in the fourth quarter, and added nine rebounds. Jenna Staiti, Georgia’s 6-2 center, led the Bulldogs with 18 points and nine rebounds.
The teams battled to a 27-27 tie at the half after Oregon (15-8) came back from a six-point deficit. The game tilted in Oregon’s favor in the third quarter, when the Ducks applied their defensive pressure and held Georgia to 2-of-9 shooting. The Ducks outscored Georgia 13-6 in the quarter to take a 40-33 lead headed into the final stanza. Georgia didn’t give up as they battled back to take a 45-44 lead and then with 2:34 remaining tied the game at 48 on a Staiti jumper. That was the last field goal the Bulldogs would make as Oregon closed the game on a 9-2 run. The run was featured by three straight layups by the 6-5 Sabally to give Oregon a 54-48 lead. Oregon closed the game with three free throws by Taylor Mikesell (11 points). Georgia missed their last five field goal attempts to close the game.
Oregon came into the NCAA Tournament reeling after losing five of their last six games including an early exit from the Pac-12 Tournament. They were also missing Te-Hina Paopao their Pac-12 First Team starting freshman point guard. Paopao was replaced with freshman Maddie Scherr. Scherr hasn’t provided much offense but has been impressive with on-ball defense and in running the offense. She didn’t score in the game today (0-of-4 from the field) but added six assists and three steals with a +7 point differential in her 38 minutes of action.
Prince, who returned to the starting lineup recently after some nagging late season injuries, was the difference in the game. She had a 5-inch height advantage on Georgia’s post, and used that advantage in getting her shots off. She connected on 64 percent of her shots and added five rebounds and four blocked shots while playing a season-high 37 minutes. Sabally connected on 7-of-14 shots while adding three assists and two steals. The 6-7 Prince and 6-5 Sabally playing high and low on the post was very effective and Georgia (21-7) had little answer for those offensive actions.
Oregon received scoring from only four players with no points from the bench over 25 minutes. Their defense, interior length and execution from their post players are the reasons for the Ducks recent success. Playing inside-out created fewer but better three-point opportunities where they shot an efficient 5-of-12. Their perimeter defense, led by Scherr, was excellent as they held Georgia to 1-of-13 shooting from deep and only 35 percent (21-of-60) overall.
Oregon joins Baylor and Michigan as schools with both their men’s and women’s programs in the Sweet Sixteen. The Ducks will go on to play Louisville on Sunday