The Arizona State Sun Devils celebrated with fans pouring onto the court as they scraped out a win against No. 2 Oregon in an upset in Tempe on Friday night, 72-66.
The last time the Ducks were on the court at Desert Financial Arena was when they defeated the Sun Devils to win the Pac-12 season title outright last season.
Friday night was completely different.
Oregon had been in these situations before trailing late in the game, but this time they weren’t able to mount a sufficient comeback. They were unable to knock down shots or get defensive stops late in the game.
With under 20 seconds left, Oregon missed a big opportunity to take the lead when it failed to box out on a key free throw that ended up in a jump ball, with possession to the Sun Devils.
After the missed rebound, Arizona State sank crucial situational free throws to knock out the second-best team in the nation.
Sabrina Ionescu, who is averaging nine assists a game, dished out four assists Friday night. But late in the game, Ionescu had to be selfish and keep the ball in her hands and had a game-high in both points (24) and rebounds (10).
As a team, however, Oregon committed 17 turnovers that rolled into 17 points for Arizona State. Satou Sabally committed over half of them with eight on the night.
Heading into this game, Arizona State was third in the nation in offensive rebounds. That is what hurt the Ducks late in the game, and it ultimately decided key possessions and plays down the stretch.
The Ducks’ energetic and aggressive defense did not travel with them. Oregon’s defense has helped spark its offense into action. Offensively, Oregon made a mini run that could have potentially created separation from Arizona State, but could not sustain it.
Erin Boley, Minyon Moore and Ionescu shot a cold 0-for-10 combined from 3-point land that added up to a team total of 27.8% from beyond the arc to end the game. With their outside shooting not connecting, the Ducks needed something else to surge a run and create momentum plays.
The last time Oregon scored under 66 points was their first loss of the season to then-No. 8 Louisville and the same situation emerged in the loss on Friday.
Arizona State sped the Ducks up on the offensive end that took them out of its flow, forced them to take tough shots late in the shot clock and Oregon never found a working rhythm offensively.
The Ducks took advantage of their inside dominant presence, with Ruthy Hebard ending the night with 13 points and Sabally’s ten, but foul trouble limited Sabally’s abilities.
This tough loss serves as a reality check for Oregon, as conference play will continue to be a fight throughout. Four Pac-12 teams sit in the top 10, and Arizona State will likely go into the top 25 after its statement win.
Oregon will seek to bounce back from its loss in the second half of their Arizona double header when they travel to Tucson to take on the No. 18 Wildcats on Sunday.
Follow Carly on Twitter @carlyebisuya.