Tonight’s Pac-12 Women’s Tournament Semifinal game between the UCLA Bruins and the Oregon Ducks was a tale of two halfs.
In the first half, the Ducks controlled the game. In fact, by the middle of the first quarter, the Bruins were already down by 10 points and it looked like the women’s team was going to take after the men’s team in their game earlier today.
But, trailing by ten for the second time in less than a minute, UCLA spent the final 4:53 of the first quarter trying to inch their way back. By the end of the quarter, the Bruins still trailed, but they only trailed by four, instead of by double digits.
The game continued to get closer in the second as a three from Kennedy Burke cut the Oregon lead to just a point with 6:58 left in the half. The rest of the first half didn’t quite go the way UCLA would have liked. Not only couldn’t the Bruins take the lead, but the Ducks actually increased their lead to as many as eight. At the half, Oregon held onto a six-point lead, 36-30.
The second half, however, belonged to the Bruins. Japreece Dean hit a three-pointer for the first bucket of the second half which promptly cut the Oregon lead in half. Burke followed with a layup that cut the lead back to just a point. Another basket by Burke tied the game with 7:41 left in the quarter. This was the first tie since 0-0. While the Ducks scored on their next trip down the floor to break the tie, Michaela Onyenwere tied it back up, 41-41, with 6:07 left. On the other end of the floor, Onyenwere blocked a shot and grabbed the rebound to give UCLA a chance to take their first lead of the game. Kiara Jefferson drew a foul that sent her to the free throw line where she hit both to put the Bruins up, 43-41. With 2:03 left, Oregon’s Satou Sabally tied it up again, 50-50, and Sabrina Ionescu nailed a three to give the Ducks the lead again. Burke made a pair of free throws to cut the Oregon lead back to a point, but Morgan Yaeger added a three of her own with two seconds left in the third to give the Ducks a 56-52 lead after three.
Early in the fourth, the Bruins had some trouble containing Oregon and, soon, UCLA trailed by six again with 5:31 to go. But the Bruins kept clawing and, with 3:29 to go, Dean hit a three to tie the game at 69-69. It wasn’t Dean’s last clutch shot either. With UCLA down 73-71 and 45 second left, Dean hit another three which put the Bruins up by a point. But Ruthy Hebard swung it back in favor of the Ducks, 75-74, with 26 seconds left. UCLA had a chance to win the game when Onyenwere was fouled and went to the line for two shots with four seconds left.
Unfortunately, she missed the first, but made the second to tie the game, 75-75. If she had made both, the Bruins would have won. After an Oregon timeout to set up a play, the Ducks turned the ball over on an offensive foul, but Dean’s buzzer-beating shot didn’t go and the teams went to overtime.
In the OT, Onyenwere put the Bruins ahead by a bucket, but, with 3:07 left, Bruins coach Cori Close was called for a technical foul. That sent Ionescu to the line for two, both of which she made, and Hebard made a layup on the ensuing possession. That was a four-point swing in the game at a critical time, which seemed to be the turning point in overtime. After that, the Bruins tied the game twice, but they couldn’t retake the lead as the Ducks went on to win, 88-83.
Both Onyenwere and Burke had double-doubles in a losing effort for the Bruins. Burke led UCLA with 27 points while Onyenwere has 17. Each player had 10 rebounds.
The Bruins will now wait to see where they will be headed for the NCAA Tournament.