The dancing ends at the Elite 8 for the No. 2 Ducks
The run ends in Spokane, but the heart is stronger than ever
The No. 2 seed Oregon Ducks fought valiantly throughout the NCAA March Madness tournament, but come up short to the No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Elite 8 84-74 in Spokane, WA.
Here is how it went down...
The dynamic duo at it again: Ionescu & Hebard
Junior guard Maite Cazorla picked up two quick personal fouls forcing her to the bench and for sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu to take over sole point guard duties. Ionescu took advantage with the high ball-screen pick and roll with her counterpart sophomore forward Ruthy Hebard. These two have near-perfected the pick and roll throughout the season.
Ionescu finished the game with 26 points, four assists, and five rebounds.
Hebard hit her first six shots and recorded a near double-double heading into halftime, making her presence know in the paint. She finished with 17 points and pulling down 10 rebounds, another double-double for the books.
The Ducks struggled to get off their typical amount of three-pointers early feeling constant on-ball pressure from the Irish defenders, only going 3-of-4 in the first half. But freshman Satou Sabally hit her first two attempts behind the three-point line to get the Ducks going.
The third quarter was a different story with Ionescu and Heard combining for just two points and the Ducks getting outscored 21-9. One quarter to go, Ducks now trailing 61-55. That shooting woe continued for the rest of the half as the Irish found their game on the inside, continued to pressure the Ducks on ball, and shut down Ionescu and Hebard the rest of the way.
The defense traveled, but not enough on the inside
Oregon closed out the second quarter on a 13-2 run, behind its defense holding Ogunbowale scoreless after she seemed like she could hit any shot from anywhere on the court in the first quarter. The Ducks rolled into halftime leading 46-40 behind Ionescu’s 19 points and Hebard’s 12 points and nine rebounds.
But the Irish found a hole in the Oregon zone with an over-the-top pass which left Hebard down low to guard sometimes two players. Oregon had to go to a bigger lineup with sophomore forward Mallory McGwire replacing Sabally. McGwire brings another big body down low to counter Notre Dame’s size with Shepard and Westbeld.
Shepard finished with 18 points and nine rebounds. Westbeld finished with 20 points and seven rebounds.
This game came down to rebounds and second chance points. The Irish out-rebounded the Ducks 51-29, grabbed 19 offensive rebounds, 26 second-chance points, and accumulated 52 points in the paint compared the Ducks’ 38.
Oregon did a good job guarding the three-point line, only allowing Notre Dame to go 3-of-10 from behind the arc, but it was the Irish’s interior play that was too much for the Ducks to handle.