Oregon women’s basketball wins Pac-12 title with 74-61 win at Arizona
No. 8 Oregon women’s basketball clinched its first Pac-12 title in 18 years after the Ducks beat Arizona 74-61 on Sunday in Tucson, Arizona.
The Ducks last won the conference title in the 1999-2000 season when the conference was still the Pac-10. Oregon will get the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament this upcoming weekend in Seattle.
“It’s unreal what Kelly [Graves] and the staff has done in 4 years,” Lexi Bando, who was Graves’ first recruit, told the Pac-12 Network after the win over the Wildcats. “It’s unbelievable. I’m so proud.”
Against Arizona, Oregon was once again led by sophomore Ruthy Hebard, who went 8-of-13 for 24 points while also collecting nine rebounds. Sabrina Ionescu added 16 points, seven rebounds and eight assists and Bando scored 15 points in the win.
Oregon took the lead early and led 19-13 at the end of the first quarter. Oregon then continued to score, amounting a 10-2 run to take a 23-13 lead. The Ducks had a 33-23 halftime lead with Hebard leading the way with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
Oregon’s lead in the third began to diminish as the quarter concluded, but the Ducks still possessed a 54-41 lead heading into the final quarter. Arizona got within a 63-57 lead after a 14-6 run, but Oregon pulled away to hold on for the win thanks to three Bando 3-pointers in the final seven minutes of the game.
The Ducks finish the season 27-4 and 16-2 in Pac-12 play, the most wins the team has had in one season. Oregon’s outright title win comes on the back of a turnaround in the program over the past few years.
Back in 2013, the Ducks finished 2-16 in conference play, now they end the year 16-2 in Pac-12 in head coach Graves’ fourth year in charge.
Oregon has seen leadership spark from the underclassmen in sophomores Hebard, Ionescu and Mallory McGwire, as well as freshman Satou Sabally.
Ionescu and Hebard both hold NCAA records before finishing their second seasons in Eugene. Ionescu nine triple-doubles and Hebard possessed a streak of 33 straight made field goals.
“It’s an honor,” Ionescu told the Pac-12 Network following the game. “We worked hard for this … but we’ve still got work to do.”
Oregon will head to Seattle later this week to play in the Pac-12 Tournament, which helped inspire the team’s run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament last season.
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow
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