Eugene – The ball had no business going in, but it did anyway.
The deep three-pointer Lexi Bando shot from the right wing rattled in and out, but bounced at the top of the backboard and dropped through the basket, which helped No.9 Oregon stave off the USC Trojans in double-overtime, 80-74, on Friday night.
“To be honest, I thought it was out of bounds, but I just threw it up there and I got lucky,” Bando said.
See Bando’s incredible shot here:
— Oregon Women’s Basketball (@OregonWBB) February 17, 2018
The bucket gave the Ducks a 78-74 lead with 46 seconds to go. They held the Trojans scoreless the rest of the way and iced the win with two free throws. Bando had 11 points on 3-of-7 from the field, including 3-of-5 from deep, in her second game back from a leg injury.
Ruthy Hebard led the host team with 27 points, while Maite Cazorla added 17 and Sabrina Ionescu, 15.
Bando was happy to be back out on the court with her teammates and said earlier in the week, there is a different perspective on being out with an injury, watching on the sidelines than on the hardwood.
“It really makes you realize don’t take a single practice, any workout or any game for granted,” she said.
Defensively, Oregon squeaked out just enough stops to win, as they held the Trojans to 0-of-5 to end the matchup.
“Down the stretch, we made a couple key stops and I think we were more conditioned in that second overtime,” Ducks coach Kelly Graves said. “They’re not all going to be pretty,” he said. “You gotta win some games like this.”
Hebard was 12-of-12 shooting from the field. She has now made her last 30 field goal attempts – a new NCAA record. The previous record was 28 consecutive field goals without a miss.
But despite Hebard’s impressive performance, the Ducks had quite a bit of trouble taking care of the basketball, as they committed 24 turnovers on the night. Graves said the statistic was uncharacteristic.
“We can’t be loose with the basketball. We can’t cross it over in front of somebody over and over and expect a different result,” Graves said. “We average 13 turnovers on the season. We’re one of the best teams in the country at that. This was an aberration.”
The game featured 12 ties and 21 lead changes between the schools in a gritty, hard-fought matchup.
“It was pretty physical, but I’m happy we got the win and did well,” Hebard said.
During the fourth quarter the game was getting chippy – especially between Hebard and USC center Kristen Simon, who battled all night in the post. But Hebard stayed focus and played her game.
“I’m really blessed that I have really good teammates that pick me up, and my mom was in the crowd, so I kind of looked at her,” Hebard said. “She’d be mad if I got in a fight.”
Simon led USC with a career-high 26 points, to go along with 15 rebounds, while Aliyah Mazcyk had 18, Sadie Edwards 16 and Minyon Moore, 12 points.
Trojan coach Mark Trakh was pleased with the effort of his team, and in particular Simon, who played all 50 minutes.
“I thought Kristen did a good job. She and Ruthy really had great games,” he said. “They’re both so competitive and so fun to watch.”
“It was a good game against a great team. Our kids played so hard,” Trakh said.
The defense from USC disrupted Oregon’s rhythm on offense, which led to the forcing of turnovers.
“I thought we played good defense,” Trakh said. “They tore us apart on the pick and roll last game, so we worked on it and really did well in our coverage of it this time. They just have a lot of great players who are hard to defend, but I thought we did well to interrupt them and get some big steals.”
The Ducks host No. 7 UCLA Monday, while the Trojans take on No. 15 Oregon State Sunday.
Oregon now has the advantage in what was a three-way tie between themselves, the Bruins and Stanford, as UCLA fell to the Beavers Friday.
“Monday’s game becomes now even more important,” Graves said.