Game #1: Oregon 84, Colorado 47
Oregon started its second-half against Colorado on Friday with a 26-2 run, hitting its first 10 shots from the field.
That came after the Ducks took a 27-point lead into the break.
“One of our weaknesses has been to build a lead and just kind of play around and not go for the jugular, so to speak,” said Oregon head coach Kelly Graves. “In this game we built a nice lead, and by halftime in the third quarter we came out and played some of the best basketball of our season.”
Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Satou Sabally had 21 points to lead all scorers, while Lexi Bando chipped in 19, and Sabrina Ionescu finished two rebounds shy of a triple-double with 10 points and a tournament-record 13 assists. All three played just three quarters in Oregon’s 84-47 win.
Mya Hollingshed had a team-high 20 for the Buffaloes, and Kennedy Leonard had 15 at the lone Colorado players in double-figures.
Oregon (28-4, 17-2) started the game on an 8-0 run and led by 12 after one quarter, paced by nine from Sabally on 3-of-3 shooting from 3-point range.
The Ducks pushed the advantage from there, and took a 27-point halftime edge, holding the Buffaloes (15-16, 5-13) to just six second-quarter points.
The lead ballooned to as many as 51, before Colorado answered with 15 of the quarter’s final 21 points.
“We knew they were going to come out and they were going to play hard,” Ionescu said. “They were going to play hard the rest of the game. We knew Kennedy and their guards were going to continue to take it to us. So we knew we had to continue to play well and grow as a team. You never know what happens in March. So we did not want to let them get back to the game and we wanted to continue to get better every possession and every play.”
With all five Oregon starters on the bench, the Buffaloes outscored Oregon 14-7 in the final period.
“I think in the second half we showed how much our team has grown throughout the season,” said Colorado head coach JR Payne.
The Buffs — which beat Utah on Thursday to advance — finishes its season just under .500, but returns all but seniors Brecca Thomas and Zoe Correal.
“The one thing I learned is tough times don’t last,” Leonard said. “If we get in the gym this summer, get in the weight room, eat a little more food, lift a little more weight, shoot a little more shots, I think where we’re going to be is the best possible place we can be going.”
Game #2: UCLA 77, Cal 74
With four minutes to go, and four fouls to her name, Kristine Anigwe checked back in for Cal, with the score knotted at 67.
That was still the score a minute later, when the junior All-Pac-12 selection was called for her fifth, putting the Golden Bears’ most potent post presence on the bench for the game’s final minutes.
Her absence loomed large as the Bruins grabbed rebounds on multiple key possessions late, in a 77-74 victory over Cal.
“I think — it’s a tough game to officiate, and I think down the stretch not a lot of the calls went our way, and that’s really unfortunate,” said Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. “When I watch the film, I’ll have a different feel, but, yes, at the time it was hard to swallow.”
Jordin Canada led all scorers with 27 points, with 18 each from Kelli Hayes and Monique Billings for the Bruins, while Mikayla Cowling paced the Golden Bears with 16, with 15 from both Anigwe and Asha Thomas.
“I just thought we were led by our seniors,” said UCLA head coach Cori Close. “Not only statistically, but in their poise and in their emotional leadership.”
Close had particular praise for Hayes, saying she was the “difference maker.”
Neither team led by more than five in the first half, with the Bruins extending a 34-29 halftime advantage to 11 in the opening moments of the third quarter.
But the Golden Bears responded with a 13-3 run to close the gap. With an Anigwe lay-up under the basket on the final possession of the third, Cal took a two-point lead into the fourth.
That push continued, with a jumper from CJ West putting the Golden Bears up seven with less than seven to play.
Over the next two minutes, the Bruins used a 10-0 run to retake the lead, with the game remaining within one possession until the closing seconds.
Thomas said it was the “little things,” that proved to be the difference.
“[A] lot of boxing out,” she said. “They got offensive rebounds in the first half and critical ones at the end … I think our game plan was really solid. We just came up short.”
Semifinal: Oregon v. UCLA, 6 p.m. Saturday
The Ducks knocked off UCLA in both regular season matchups, beating the Bruins 70-61 in Los Angeles on Jan. 7, and 101-94 in overtime on Feb. 19 in Eugene.
“We have to focus on the details,” Canada said. “I thought last game we didn’t come out with a lot of energy. We were behind in every play, and we were playing lackadaisical, and that allowed them to get on the runs. So coming into this game tomorrow, we know we have to be composed, poised, follow the game plan, be aggressive, and come out fighting because we know it’s going to be a battle.”
The Bruins did manage to limit Sabally to just six points in the first matchup, and Bando to a combined 10 points over both games, but were hurt by Ionescu, Cazorla, and Hebard.
- Oregon wins the season series with Colorado 2-0. The Ducks won the teams’ only regular season matchup 74-55 in Boulder on Jan. 26.
- Oregon forward Lydia Giomi left the game with an apparent leg/ankle injury. She did not return.
- The Ducks’ 13 made 3-pointers tied a single-game Pac-12 Tournament record.
- Jordin Canada has now scored at least 20 points in each of her last five games, and her 27 was her second-highest performance of the year.
- Canada also moved to third on UCLA’s career steals list in the win.