Eugene, OR – Kennedy Burke scored a career-high 29 points to lead UCLA to a dramatic 74-69 come from behind win over Oregon before 8,858 disappointed fans at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene. The Bruins came back from a 22-point first half deficit to notch the win. The loss was the Ducks’ second straight and their first loss at home this year. Oregon clearly missed their All-American center Ruthy Hebard who missed the game with a knee injury suffered this week at Oregon State. Erin Boley led Oregon with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
Oregon came out of the gates hitting on all cylinders. They connected on 10-of-16 shots in the first quarter in taking a 23-12 lead. They extended the lead to 42-20 before UCLA scored the last seven points in the second quarter to cut the Ducks’ lead to 42-27 at the half. The Bruins eventually went on a 50-20 run to take a 68-60 lead on a Japreece Dean three-pointer with 3:45 remaining.
Oregon tried to make a comeback as Sabrina Ionescu (18 points) hit a three-pointer from the wing to cut UCLA’s lead to 70-69 with 33.8 seconds remaining. Michaela Onyenwere then made two free shows to extend the lead to 72-69. After a botched Oregon play resulted in a missed shot from Satou Sabally, UCLA’s Ahlana Smith was fouled and missed both her free throws. However, Burke came in and grabbed the offensive rebound after the second miss, was fouled and made both her attempts to seal the game.
During Oregon’s recent slump they have not shot well. Today they were 6-of-26 on three-pointers and were 2-of-14 from deep in the second half. The Ducks shot 11-of-31 overall in the second half including a dismal 25 percent in the pivotal third quarter when they scored only 11 points. The Bruins shot 17-of-31 in the second half including 5-of-11 from distance.
Senior Oti Gildon replaced Hebard in the starting lineup and had six points and eight rebounds in 33 minutes. Oregon has clearly missed Hebard on both ends of the court. Without her inside scoring and her effective rolling on pick and rolls, Oregon seems to be forcing outside shots. Tonight Sabally was 0-of-7 from deep, point guard Matie Cazorla was 1-of-5 and freshman Taylor Chavez was 0-of-3. On defense, her absence is felt both on the boards and in rim protection. While UCLA’s 30 points in the paint weren’t excessive it seemed as if many of their finishes were uncontested. The teams battled evenly on the boards but several of the Bruins offensive rebounds resulted in baskets and Burke was able to corral the important offensive board that sealed the game.
Bessides Boley and Ionescu, Cazorla added 13 points but the Ducks’ bench only contributed four points. For UCLA, their point guard Dean scored 14 points to go along with nine assists and Onyenwere, limited by foul trouble, added 12 points in 17 minutes. Lajahna Drummer was strong on the boards with 11 rebounds and helped out with eight points. Burke grabbed eight rebounds to go along with her outstanding offensive game.
Oregon (24-3, 13-2) now only has a one-game conference lead over Oregon State and Stanford with three games remaining. They face USC (15-11, 5-10) on Sunday morning before finishing the regular season in Arizona. UCLA (17-10, 10-5), winners of eight of their last nine games, travel to Corvallis to face Oregon State (22-5, 12-3) on Sunday afternoon.