After missing her first of two free throws down 90-89, Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu knew she was not going to let her team down. She nailed the second shot, and when the game went to overtime, her renewed competitive fire proved too much for the UCLA. Her 7 points in OT helped Oregon shut the door on the Bruins.
“We had to fight adversity and stay composed, and I think we did,” Ionescu said. “We answered that test well.”
It took all of No. 8 Oregon’s offensive firepower and defensive grit to beat No. 10 UCLA 101-94 on Monday night at Matthew Knight Arena. A crowd of over 7,000 was on the scene to watch the top-10 matchup and honor the two seniors, Lexi Bando and Justine Hall.
Satou Sabally and Maite Cazorla provided much of the offense in the regulation period. Sabally arguably had one of her best games of the season, scoring her first seven attempts from three-point range — she finished 7-of-9 from behind the arc.
Cazorla was a spark whenever Oregon needed a lift of offense. Her 24-point performance earned her entry into Oregon’s 1000-point club, joining Ruthy Hebard and Ionescu who accomplished the same feat last week.
“I thought Maite was huge tonight. That is not easy going agsint the quickest of those guards,” head coach Kelly Graves said. “She showed great resilience.”
Senior guard Jordin Canada was as good as advertised. The senior guard hit multiple and-1 layups and deep three-pointers to keep Oregon’s defense on its toes.
“Jordin Canada and Billings, that’s an amazingly talented team,” Graves said. “Especially Jordin, … she single-handedly wrecked our defense.”
With 7:26 left in the third quarter, Oregon held a 19-point lead. The team could do no wrong, but eventually after enough laps in defensive rotations, UCLA fought its way back.
“We talked about that at halftime,” Ionescu said. “We knew they were going to come back and punch us and we just had to be able to punch back and take it.”
After making her 33 straight field goals, an NCAA record, Hebard finally missed after starting the night 3-for-3. The sophomore forward finished with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting, while also collecting 11 rebounds.
For the final 6:18 of the fourth quarter, the Bruins did not allow an Oregon field goal. Cazorla went down hard after getting blocked on a layup and needed support while limping to the bench. Then UCLA hit a 3-pointer to take its first lead of the game 90-87 with 2:18 to go. Ionescu kept the team in the game by driving to the hoop and getting fouled multiple times.
Right away, both teams knew the ball would be firmly in Ionescu’s hands. She stole the ball right away and hit a jumper to get the crowd roaring. Cazorla checked back into the game with 90 seconds left, and with the score tied at 94, the ball wound up in Sabally’s hands. She hit a fadeaway jumper to give Oregon the lead. UCLA would not score again.
The Ducks will finish out the regular season in Arizona, playing Arizona State on Friday and Arizona on Sunday to conclude Pac-12 play.
Follow August Howell on Twitter @howell_august