SEATTLE — As Oregon women’s basketball heads into the program’s first ever Pac-12 Tournament championship game appearance, the team has one thought on its mind: payback.
During the regular season, Oregon lost to Stanford 78-65 at home — the Ducks’ only home court loss all year long. On Sunday, they’ll get a second chance to take on the Cardinal, and this time, it’s for the grand prize of Pac-12 Tournament Champions.
“We would definitely like another shot at them,” Oregon sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu said. “I don’t think we played our best game. So that was kind of a hard pill to swallow to lose to them.”
No. 1 seed Oregon got through a grueling semifinal game with No. 4 seed UCLA on Saturday while No. 2 seed Stanford walked over No. 6 seed Arizona State, which upset Oregon State on Friday in the quarterfinal.
Brittany McPhee, who punished Oregon in the regular season game by scoring the final 17 points of a 33-point performance, was quiet in Stanford’s 58-46 win over the Sun Devils, scoring just three points on 1-of-6 shooting. Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said that McPhee has been battling a head cold.
“It will be a big challenge for her but we have confidence that she’ll come out in the big game for tomorrow,” VanDerveer said.
In the regular season matchup, Oregon knew what was coming against McPhee, with head coach Kelly Graves calling it at halftime, when the Ducks led 41-32 and McPhee had just two points.
“We said, ‘No. 12 is gonna come out ‘cause she didn’t do much in the first half,’” Graves said. “We figured that she was gonna do what she did.”
In that loss, Oregon shot 40 percent from the field and turned the ball over 15 times, which Stanford converted into 21 points.
McPhee’s dominant shooting may have taken a break against Arizona State in the semifinal on Saturday, but that was picked up by guard Kiana Williams, who shot 9-of-11 — 6-of-7 from 3 — for 24 points. Thirteen more points were added by Alanna Smith, which helped allow Stanford to rest players for the end of the game as Arizona State went on a 16-2 run to close the game.
“We’re not gonna rest anybody tomorrow. We gotta bring it,” VanDerveer said. “Everybody’s gotta be ready to go.”
Coached by the legendary head coach VanDerveer, Stanford has won 12 of the 16 ever Pac-12 women’s basketball tournaments, including seven in a row from the 2006-07 season through the 2012-13 season.
The Ducks could be without freshman forward and Pac-12 freshman of the year Satou Sabally, who left the game against UCLA with an injury. Oregon head coach Kelly Graves said he doesn’t know if she’ll be able to play.
“Oregon brings you the ultimate challenge in that they have a great outside game and a great inside game,” VanDerveer said. “I think that they’re a legitimate top-10 team and we’re gonna have to play very well to beat them again.”
The Ducks will be in for a tough test against the Cardinal but Oregon’s desire for revenge could be what it takes to take down Stanford.
“I’m so excited,” Oregon sophomore forward Ruthy Hebard said. “I’m hoping for Stanford.”
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow