Ducks Come Up Short In Pac-12 Tournament Quarterfinals
LAS VEGAS — The Oregon women's basketball team was unable to recover from a difficult third quarter on the defensive end in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday, suffering a 71-64 loss to Oregon State at Michelob ULTRA Arena.
The duo of Taylor Mikesell and Nyara Sabally combined to score 40 of Oregon's 64 points, but a lack of production elsewhere and 31 points by Oregon State (11-7) in the third quarter – including a 13-0 run – put the Ducks (13-8) in a 15-point hole with 10 minutes to play. Oregon kept battling and got as close as four points in the fourth quarter, but the Ducks were unable to complete the comeback.
"I'm proud of our team and the fight that we showed," said head coach Kelly Graves, "certainly in that last quarter.
"Unfortunately our defense just in that third quarter let us down. We did such a good job in the first half against them and it just kind of fell apart there for a little stretch in the third quarter, and that was the game. We tried like crazy to come back and had some opportunities."
How it Happened: Both teams got off to a slow start offensively, with Oregon taking a 10-5 lead through the first quarter. The Ducks shot 4-of-16 from the floor in the period, and Oregon State was just 2-of-16. The Beavers led 3-2 before the Ducks scored seven straight, including four from Sabally.
A pair of baskets by Sedona Prince pushed Oregon's lead to 14-7 two minutes into the second quarter, but the Beavers put together a 12-1 run to take a four-point lead and prompt a UO timeout. Mikesell connected on a pair of jumpers to end the run, but the Ducks finished the first half with a season-low 19 points and went into the locker room trailing by five.
"Defensively in the first half, I thought we were as good as we've been all year," said Graves. "Something to build on, but now we've got to put four quarters together."
The Ducks got going offensively in the third quarter behind nine points from Mikesell, outperforming their first-half point total with 21 in the period. But Oregon State found its rhythm in a big way, going 12-of-15 from the floor and 3-of-4 from three-point range to put up 31 points in the frame. Mikesell hit a floater with 4:38 to go in the third quarter to cut OSU's lead to two, 40-38, but the Beavers scored 13 straight to take a 15-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Oregon never stopped fighting, getting OSU's lead down to eight points with 3:48 remaining before Mikesell fueled a 6-0 run that pulled the Ducks within four, 64-40. Mikesell answered an Oregon State lay-in with one of her own to get the deficit back to four points with less than a minute to go, but the Beavers were able to ice the game with free throws down the stretch.
Who Stood Out: Mikesell led all players with 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting, including 20 points in the second half. Sabally finished with 16 points with a team-high eight rebounds while going 6-of-11 from the floor, and Prince had eight points on 4-of-9 shooting.
What it Means: The Ducks – who had played in each of the previous three Pac-12 Tournament title games and won two – will have some time to regroup and refocus before getting ready for the NCAA Tournament. Oregon entered the week at No. 10 in the NCAA NET rankings and will surely receive an at-large berth to the Big Dance, but the Ducks are only guaranteed one more game this season. With all-conference point guard Te-Hina Paopao out for at least the early rounds of the tournament with an injury, Oregon will look for ways to become more efficient and consistent on both ends of the court before heading to San Antonio.
Notable: Freshman guard Maddie Scherr made her first career start and had two steals while guarding OSU leading scorer Aleah Goodman … Mikesell recorded her team-leading third 20-point game of the season – second against Oregon State – and the 12th of her career … Sabally scored in double figures for the team-leading 16th time this season and 14th in her last 15 games, while Mikesell reached double digits for the ninth time as a Duck and 55th time in her career … Mikesell's 10 made field goals are a new career-high … Oregon is now 14-18 all-time in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Up Next: The NCAA Tournament selection show is scheduled for Monday, March 15, at 4 p.m. PT on ESPN.