Preview: Oregon women’s basketball set for top-10 semifinal matchup with UCLA
SEATTLE — Following Oregon women’s basketball’s 84-47 win over Colorado on Friday, the Ducks had the rest of the day to occupy themselves. Of course, some of it was spent watching the game that directly followed theirs, which would produce their next opponent.
The team sat in the corner of the stands at Key Arena to watch No. 4 seed UCLA take on the No. 5 seeded California Golden Bears. UCLA was the heavy favorite.
“Let’s go Cal,” junior guard Maite Cazorla said following the Ducks’ game.
Cazorla, and Oregon’s wish, didn’t come true.
No. 6 Oregon will face No. 9 UCLA on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the first of two semifinals in the Pac-12 Tournament. The No. 1 seeded Ducks defeated UCLA twice during the regular season, including an overtime thriller at Matthew Knight Arena less than a month ago.
“I thought last game we didn’t come out with a lot of energy,” UCLA guard Jordin Canada said. “We were behind in every play, and we were playing lackadaisical, and that allowed them to get on the runs.”
The Ducks will know what’s coming in UCLA, which went 14-4 in conference play this year. The Bruins are led by Canada, who averaged 16.3 points per game this season. Canada scored 27 in UCLA’s win on Friday over Cal.
The last time these two teams played, UCLA was coming off a defeat at Oregon State and the Ducks had just defeated USC in double-overtime. But, that didn’t stop Satou Sabally, who went 7-of-9 from 3-point range against UCLA. Against Colorado on Friday, she was 5-of-7 behind the arc.
The Ducks will continue to look to 3-point shooting, which proved to be a success against Colorado in the hands of Sabally and Lexi Bando as Oregon shot 48.1 percent from deep.
“UCLA’s really athletic,” Bando said. “They are a tough matchup for us. They play aggressive, they get into you. We’ve gotten better at that. We’ll just have to be on our A-game tomorrow.”
On Friday, UCLA faced a resistant Cal side that fought the entire game but fell short, losing 77-71 to the Bruins. Cal was haunted by fouls, having 24 against while UCLA was called 16 times.
UCLA did have scorers to help Canada. Forward Monique Billings and guard Kelli Hayes each scored 18 points but the Bruins shot 36 percent as a team.
Oregon will have to be careful on turnovers, which UCLA can capitalize on as they did in the 21 points scored off of turnovers on Friday against Cal. The Ducks turned the ball over 12 times against the Buffs, who scored just 10 points in the following plays.
Regardless, the matchup is worthy of the championship game, but it falls in the bracket in the form of a semifinal. This season’s games have proven to be classics and Saturday’s showdown should be somewhere on similar stature.
“I think both teams are really poised to make really deep runs in the NCAA Tournament,” UCLA head coach Cori Close said. “But we have a very competitive group. I think it’s which team can learn from those past situations, put into place small adjustments. Players make plays in March.”
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow
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