Ionescu lifts No. 8 Oregon to 101-94 OT win over No. 10 UCLA
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — A missed free throw was all the motivation Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu needed to take matters into her own hands.
All she wanted was a chance to leave no doubt.
Ionescu scored seven of her 23 points in overtime and the No. 8 Ducks outlasted No. 10 UCLA 101-94 on Monday night.
“We’re just fortunate that we made a couple of stops in overtime,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said, “and then Sabrina kind of put us on her back that last five minutes. That was a heckuva win and I’m really proud of our team.”
Ionescu added 12 assists for the Ducks (25-4, 14-2 Pac-12). Oregon’s 14th conference win matched its best from 1999-2000 when it won the Pac-10 title.
The sophomore guard didn’t have a turnover in 42 minutes against the Bruins’ relentless defensive pressure. She also was 10 of 12 from the foul line and had six rebounds.
“That’s what your All-American’s gotta do, and she did it tonight,” Graves said.
Oregon built a huge first-half lead before UCLA rallied while holding the Ducks without a field goal for the final 6:18 of regulation. With the game tied at 90 after Ionescu made one of two free throws, the Bruins had a chance for the win in regulation, but they missed a layup just before the buzzer.
Ionescu took over in OT. She scored the first four points in the extra session and the Ducks didn’t look back as UCLA was 1 of 4 with three turnovers.
“Especially after missing that free throw, I knew I wasn’t going to let my team down and our seniors down,” Ionescu said. “I should have made it. I think it tested us. We had to come back that five minutes and fight adversity and stay composed, and we did.”
Satou Sabally led the Ducks with a season-high 25 points on seven 3-pointers, and Maite Cazorla had 24 points and seven assists. Cazorla also hit five 3-pointers and surpassed 1,000 points for her career.
Sabally made her first seven shots from the arc, most of them off assists from Ionescu.
“For a freshman in this kind of environment, (Sabally) showed what she’s capable of doing and had a great game,” Graves said.
Ruthy Hebard finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. She made her first three shots to set an NCAA men’s and women’s record with 33 consecutive field goals over four games.
Jordin Canada and Monique Billings each scored 26 points and had double-doubles for the Bruins (21-6, 13-3). Canada’s 13 assists gave her 765 for her career, breaking the Pac-12 record of 757 by Stanford’s Sonja Henning in 1988-91.
Billings had 10 rebounds and was 11 of 15 from the field. She scored 17 in the second half and overtime, and Canada had 16
’I’m so proud of how they responded,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “I’m so proud of their fight, I’m so proud of the passion and aggression with which they played in the second half, and I’m so bewildered at how we came out in the first.
“We’ve got to be willing to channel how we play at our best, learn from what led to that, and put into action going into the rest of the way.”
UCLA shot 55 percent in the first half, including 6 of 11 from 3-point range, and still trailed by 16 because the Ducks couldn’t be stopped. Oregon made 20 of 28 overall and 9 of 13 from the arc to lead 57-41 at the break.
Oregon is up by one game on Stanford atop the Pac-12 and by two on UCLA and Oregon State, but the Ducks may still need to sweep their Arizona road trip to avoid sharing their first conference title in 18 years. The Cardinal won the only meeting with Oregon and hold the tiebreaker for the top seed in the Pac-12 tournament.
UCLA’s two losses in Oregon leave it tied with Oregon State for third in the Pac-12 standings with visits by Colorado and Utah to end the regular season. The Bruins were picked to win the conference in the preseason coaches poll.
Oregon’s season-long stay in the top 10 was only enhanced by its eighth win in 11 games against ranked opponents. UCLA dropped three spots Monday after its loss at Oregon State.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Cazorla reached 1,006 points in her 99th game to make Oregon the fourth team with four active 1,000-point scorers. The others are UConn, Notre Dame and Ohio State.
The 6-foot-4 Sabally stripped UCLA’s Canada on a drive down the lane and then hit her seventh consecutive 3-pointer at the other end to put Oregon up 85-76 with 6:18 to play. The Bruins finished regulation on a 14-5 run to force overtime.
HE SAID IT
Graves didn’t want to talk about his team’s next game after beating the Bruins before a national television audience and a boisterous crowd of 7,098. “I’m just going to enjoy this one,” he said. “This is a real sweet victory. An amazing crowd and arguably the biggest game in Oregon women’s basketball history. ... I’m just going to enjoy this tonight. I wish I drank or I’d grab a beer and enjoy it, but I don’t, so I’ll do my Diet Coke with a little lemon.”
UCLA: Hosts Colorado on Thursday night.
Oregon: Plays at Arizona State on Friday night.