Ducks upset No. 2 Duke 74-65 to punch ticket to program’s first Sweet 16
Before Oregon squared off against Duke, Oregon head coach Kelly Graves told his team they could be dangerous — given that they have nothing to lose.
His young squad proved him right.
“We just came out and played our hearts out,” Lexi Bando said. “We said we have nothing to lose. Let’s just give it our all.”
And just like that, Oregon is off to the program’s first Sweet 16 after a 74-65 upset of No. 2 Duke on Monday in Durham, North Carolina.
Before Monday, the Devils, ranked No. 9 nationally, hadn’t lost on their home court all season.
“We had some very composed, patient freshmen tonight,” assistant coach Jodie Berry said on the postgame radio show. “The play of our kids down the stretch when things started to get tight — we just did a great job of relaxing and making them work. … An all-around solid effort. We’re a tough team to beat when we have four kids scoring the basketball.”
Duke, which entered the game ranked second nationally in 3-point defense, allowed the Ducks to drain nine 3s.
Ruthy Hebard paced the Ducks with 20 points and hauled in 15 of Oregon’s 33 rebounds. Maite Cazorla had 17 points and six assists.
Bando had 14 points and drained four 3-pointers while Ionescu scored 13 points for the Ducks, which advance to play No. 3-seeded Maryland on Saturday in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Here’s some locker room video of the postgame celebration:
— Oregon Video (@QuackVideo) March 21, 2017
The Ducks had their largest lead of the game, 15 points, after Cazorla drained a 3-pointer. That was part of a larger 13-2 run.
“Anytime you get momentum going into the last quarter — that’s critical,” Graves said. “It just kind of worked out. We kind took off from there, but give them credit. They came back.”
Duke, playing two days after its starting point guard Kyra Lambert tore her ACL, cut the Oregon lead to seven points with 4:08 left. But the Ducks were able to go bucket-for-bucket with Duke for the win.
Ionescu drained six free throws in the final 25 seconds to keep Duke at bay.
The Ducks will fly back to Eugene on Monday night. Some players have early-morning finals on Tuesday.
“We’re just super excited to be going to the Sweet 16,” Bando said. “What an awesome experience and we’re going to go give it our all.”
Added Graves: “This is a loose group. We have fun. They don’t take themselves too seriously and they just go out and play. I anticipate the next step will kind of be the same. They’ll be goofballs. Their coaches will be knuckleheads and we’ll find a way to get it done.”
Follow Jonathan Hawthorne on Twitter @Jon_Hawthorne