In the first 10 minutes of their semifinal matchup with Stanford on Saturday night, the Oregon Ducks looked like the team that knocked off three-seed Washington the day before.
After one quarter the Ducks held a nine-point lead, and were 9-for-18 from the field for 25 points.
But then Oregon scored 31 the rest of the night.
The Ducks shot just 26 percent over the final three quarters, and were outscored by 24 as Oregon’s tournament run came to an end in a 71-56 loss to the Cardinal.
“They really got into us,” said Oregon head coach Kelly Graves on the final three periods. “We got nothing easy. They took away most of our pick-and-roll game, started to force us to the baseline. We didn’t handle that well. And we started to just play back a little bit. Not scared, but we were on our heels.”
Erica McCall had a game-high 17 points and 15 rebounds to lead Stanford, while Kaylee Johnson had 11 points and 12 boards for the Cardinal. Brittany McPhee finished with 15 points. Sabrina Ionescu and Maite Cazorla both had 14 points to lead the Ducks.
After Oregon’s hot start, Stanford went on a 14-4 run over the final seven-plus minutes of the half to take a one-point lead at the break.
“We made some little adjustments, but I think it was more the leadership of our team …” Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “Them saying, ‘We’re going to buckle down and play hard.'”
The two sides played even through much of the third, with the score tied at 42 after a Cazorla 3-pointer with just over five minutes in the quarter. But a quick 7-0 run gave Stanford the lead for good.
The Ducks pulled within four after a pair of Ruthy Hebard free throws with 7:02 to play, but Stanford responded by scoring 13 of the game’s next 15 points to put the game away.
In the fourth, Oregon went just 2-for-14 from the field, and went more than seven minutes without a field goal. Despite playing their third game in as many nights, Ionescu said fatigue was not an excuse for the Ducks.
“We’re not tired at all,” Ionescu said. “We didn’t come out like we should have, and they played great basketball. Like coach always says, they’re not going to beat themselves.”
Oregon now awaits its NCAA Tournament fate, a bid all-but-assured after its upset win over the Huskies.
“We’re enjoying the ride,” Graves said. “I think we earned the spot. That’s not up to me now. It’s up to somebody else. But the fact that we have four top-25 wins, and one that came last night against a great team on basically their home floor, yeah, we want to celebrate this.”
Stanford advances to the Pac-12 Tournament title game for the 14th time in 16 seasons, but face an Oregon State team that beat them twice in the regular season, both times by three points.
“We’re going to need to play well 100 percent of the time against Oregon State,” VanDerveer said. “They’re an experienced team. They’re a talented team and a very well-coached team. And we’ve lost to them twice. Our team’s going to have to have a chip on its shoulder and bring it tomorrow night.”
Stanford and Oregon State have never met in the Pac-12 Tournament title game … Stanford would be the first No. 2 seed to win the Tournament, the past six meetings between the No. 1/2 seeds have been won by the top-seed (Ironically, Stanford all six times) … Kaylee Johnson‘s double-double was her first this season … Stanford tied a single-game Tournament record with 10 blocks … Sabrina Ionescu on Bri Roberson: “She’s a great defender. She’s up there with Jordin Canada. She’s quick. She’s lower to the ground than I am. So all credit to her. She made every shot that I took difficult. Played great help defense. When Maite tried to drive, she was there.” … Lexi Bando fouled out for the first time this season … Attendance: 8,384. That’s the highest for a Tournament semifinal session, and second to last night’s sellout.