2019 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament: Top-seeded Oregon Ducks outlast No. 4 UCLA in back-and-forth overtime battle
LAS VEGAS -- Oregon and UCLA bring out the best of each other in the Pac-12 Tournament.
For the second straight year the Ducks edged the Bruins in the semifinals to advance to the championship game. Ruthy Hebard scored 28 points to lift No. 6 Oregon to an 88-83 overtime victory over the pesky 25th-ranked Bruins on Saturday night.
"Two years in a row we played a classic against them," Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. "This time again we were able to come out on top. I'm excited and happy we get to play again and play tomorrow for another championship. I'm really proud of our team. Tonight we showed our championship mettle and made plays when we really need to. We played a good basketball game. This was women's basketball at its highest."
With the game tied at 83, Satou Sabally made a driving layup with 59 seconds left. UCLA twice had a chance to take the lead, but Kiara Jefferson missed open 3-pointers. Sabally then hit one of two free throws to give the Ducks a three-point lead.
UCLA had one final chance but Kennedy Burke turned the ball over with 3.7 seconds left. Sabrina Ionescu hit two free throws to seal the win after she was fouled. She finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, but was 4-for-19 from the field.
"She had a tough shooting night, maybe forced a few," Graves said. "Nobody we'd rather have a ball to make a play or free throw. She finds a way to make the play when you need it. It's nice to know that when she doesn't have her best game we have other weapons that came through. She's the straw that's stirring this drink. She's the conductor of this orchestra. On the biggest moments you can count on her."
Top-seeded Oregon (29-3) will face either Stanford or Washington for the title Sunday night.
With Oregon down two in overtime, UCLA coach Cori Close was called for a technical foul for arguing a non-call. The Ducks hit both free throws and also converted on their next possession to take a two-point lead.
"It's a game of inches and I wish I hadn't gotten that T," an emotional Close said.
Both teams had chances to win at the end of regulation. Tied at 75, Oregon had the ball, but Erin Boley was called for an illegal screen with 4.8 seconds left. Japreece Dean took the inbounds and her shot from about 30 feet bounced off the rim sending the game to overtime - the fourth in Pac-12 Tournament history. UCLA has been involved in three of those games. The Bruins won the previous two times.
Trailing by one with 26 seconds left in regulation, Hebard scored on a layup. She missed her first attempt, but Oregon forced a jump ball and the possession arrow favored the Ducks. Hebard didn't miss the second chance and gave the Ducks a 75-74 advantage.
UCLA (20-12) tied the game when Michaela Onyenwere hit the second of two free throws with 4.8 seconds left.
Burke scored 27 points and Dean added 22 to lead UCLA.
"It was a lot of fun on both ends of the floor," Burke said. "Both teams up and down. Lot of fun fighting together."
UCLA had won 11 of its last 13 games, including a victory at Oregon.
The Ducks jumped out to a 15-5 lead behind strong play by Boley. They led 25-21 after one quarter as the pace was to their liking. Both teams struggled from the field though in the second quarter, combining to shoot 9-for-34 as the Ducks went into the half up 36-30.
RECORD BREAKING: Ionescu broke the tournament record for career assists in the second quarter. She now has 54, five more than former UCLA players Jordin Canada and Nikki Blue.
TIP-INS: UCLA has fourth straight 20-win seasons and has reached the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament in four straight seasons. ... Burke moved into 10th on the program's career 3-point list when she hit her 100th in the first quarter. She passed former Bruins great Jordin Canada. ... Oregon guard Maite Cazorla has been battling the flu all week, but had a strong game against the Bruins. She had 11 points and five assists.
"Maite played 45 minutes on heart, on pure heart," Graves said. "This kid was quarantined three-to-four days ago and not near humanity anywhere."
DEJA VU: Oregon edged UCLA 65-62 in the semifinals last year. The Ducks rallied from a 13-point deficit to win that one.
UCLA: Awaiting postseason bid.
Oregon: Either Stanford or Washington for the Pac-12 title on Sunday.
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