Oregon lost its second game this week with a 74-69 setback at home to UCLA in front of 8,858 fans. It’s the first time the Ducks have had any kind of losing streak as they fell to 24-3 overall and 13-2 in conference play.
With the loss, coupled with Stanford’s win, the Ducks are now just one game ahead of the Cardinal for the Pac-12 regular season title. When Oregon went down to the Bay Area just two weeks ago and spanked Stanford by 40, no one thought Oregon coughing up a sure Pac-12 title would be in the realm of a possibility.
Not only are they coughing a title up, the Ducks coughed up a 40-18 first half lead to the Bruins, who kept inching back and inching back in the second half until they took the lead for good at the seven minute mark of the fourth quarter.
It was a lead UCLA wouldn’t give up as the Bruins hit big shot after big shot and using their height advantage in the paint without Ruthy Hebard in there, who is nursing a bone bruise to the knee.
But in the first half, Oregon didn’t seem to miss Hebard all that much as the Ducks cruised to that early 22-point lead. Then shots the Ducks usually make just didn’t fall and they never found any kind of an offensive rhythm in the second half.
Oregon shot just 44.4 percent from the field, but a paltry 6-of-26 from three-point range. UCLA countered with five threes in the second half alone and it was just too much for the Ducks to overcome.
Erin Boley led Oregon with 20 points and Sabrina Ionescu filled the stat sheet with 18 points, six rebounds and eight assists. Maite Cazorla added 13 points and Satou Sabally was held to just eight points and she missed all seven of her attempts from beyond the arc.
UCLA was led by Kennedy Burke’s 29 points and eight boards.
Oregon will now just have a day to prepare for a tough USC team who had the Beavers on the ropes late until OSU pulled out a 68-61 win in Corvallis. The Ducks will also have to make adjustments in order to keep on winning with Hebard out of action.
If they don’t, the Ducks might be headed for some tough sledding and hope their star forward can speed up the healing process in any way possible.
Oregon and USC is scheduled for an early bird special tip-off time of 11 am Sunday.
~ Don Smalley