Guarding Oregon is a difficult proposition when the Ducks are getting only one shot a possession. When they have second and third looks, they’re almost unstoppable.
Top-seeded Oregon shot 53 percent from the floor and turned 14 offensive rebounds into 16 second-chance points in an 88-70 win over No. 4 seed Arizona in the Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament semifinals Saturday night at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
“I think the back-breaking moments were the offensive rebounds,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said. “There were times we played solid defense. We lost on the boards 39-22, with 14 offensive. If you would have told me that, I would have said we would have lost by 40.”
The Ducks (30-2) advanced to the championship game for the third straight year. They will meet No. 3 Stanford at 5 p.m. Sunday for the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
The teams combined for a tournament-record 25 3-pointers, with Oregon going 15 of 31 and Arizona hitting 10 of 21.
Sabrina Ionescu had 31 points, nine rebounds and seven assists and became the all-time leading scorer in Pac-12 tournament history. She has 323 points, eclipsing the total of 321 scored by Stanford’s Nnemkadi Ogumike from 2009 to 2012.
“Cutting down nets, if that was a record, that’s what I want,” Ionescu said. “Hopefully three more to go.”
Oregon never trailed, and Erin Boley’s hot shooting was a major reason. She scored 10 of her 18 points in the first quarter, and that opened everything up for Ionescu and forward Ruthy Hebard, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The Ducks also took care of the ball, with 26 assists against 11 turnovers.
“Offensively we’re the most efficient team in the country by a long way,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “Our true shooting percentage is best in the nation. Our turnover ratio is the best. This is a good basketball team offensively, we’re an elite team, one of the best of all time, quite frankly.”
Aari McDonald scored 34 points to help keep Arizona (24-7) in the game, then became engaged when former Arizona football player Devon Brewer proposed to her.
“We were walking off the court, and I see my brother gesturing, like, ‘Hey, come here,’” McDonald said. “He had his phone on. I’m like, ‘What is he doing?’ And then I see my boyfriend, Devon. I’m like, ‘Wait. What?’ I looked at the sign, ‘Will you marry me?’ With all my family there”.
Cate Reese added 13 points for Arizona, and former Centennial High star Sam Thomas scored all eight of her points in the third quarter.
No. 3 Stanford 67, No. 2 UCLA 51 — Lexie Hull had 28 points, nine rebounds and five steals, and the Cardinal held the Bruins to their lowest point total of the season.
The Cardinal (27-5) trailed by two after the first quarter, then outscored UCLA 37-16 in the middle quarters.
“We had Lexie. She really was the engine of this train today,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “She scored for us really well, got to the basket, rebounded and just willed our team to winning.”
Stanford shot 51 percent from the floor and led by 26 points in the fourth quarter. The only blemish for the Cardinal was 21 turnovers.
UCLA’s previous low for scoring was 58 points in a win over Cal State-Northridge on Dec. 7. The Bruins shot 32 percent and also turned the ball over 21 times.
“Stanford was the tougher team, they outexecuted us, they played with more unified purpose than us, and when you’re playing this level of a game, we have to control some of those things,” UCLA coach Cori Close said.
Michaela Onyenwere, Charisma Osborne and Japreece Dean each scored 14 points for the Bruins (26-5).
Pac-12 women’s tournament
At Mandalay Bay Events Center
No. 1 Oregon 88, No. 4 Arizona 70
No. 3 Stanford 67, No. 2 UCLA 51
No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 3 Stanford, 5 p.m.