How Oregon won: It wasn't easy and it was pretty, but the Oregon Ducks managed a huge win in front of their screaming Ducks fans at Matthew Knight Arena Friday night. The Ducks had to fight fire with fire, grit with grit, for a full 40 minutes, and that still wasn't enough against the USC Trojans. In fact, it took 50 minutes, two overtime thrillers, another PERFECT shooting from the field game from sophomore forward Ruthy Hebard, and a few clutch three-pointers from senior guard Lexi Bando for the No. 9 Ducks (24-4, 13-2 Pac-12) to down the USC Trojans (17-9, 7-8 Pac-12) 80-74.
Oregon coach Kelly Graves said, "We weren't at our best tonight, but give USC credit, they played hard. I thought in that first half, we just didn't take care of the ball and when made them play in the half court, we did a great job. But we can't give up those layups in transition. Or stupid turnovers. Down the stretch we made a couple key stops, and I thought maybe we're the more conditioned in that second ovetime. I thought we looked a little fresher, they made some mental and physical mistakes, and we were lucky enough to capitalize on the win."
What it means: The Ducks recorded 24 team turnovers, gave up 31 points off those turnovers, had the ball stolen 19 times, and still won the game, granted it took two overtime's. Those two statments don't always mix in a positive way. Oregon started off with two turnovers on bad passes down low that lead to open layups for the Trojans. Not a good start for Graves and the Ducks. Oregon had zero fastbreak points compared to USC's 17. They will have to maintain better control of the ball with the season rapidly coming to a close and the Ducks needing every win to secure that No. 1 seed heading into the Pac-12 tournament the first week of March.
USC gets after loose balls, plays tough, pressure on-ball defense, and tries to get in its opponents heads. And it worked. Oregon only scored five points in the second quarter, and struggled in its final possessions to even get a good look at the hoop.
Bando said, "They're a team that we kind of don't like to play because of the turnovers they do cause. You know, the fast paced game. But we pulled out the win and you just got to move past this and just be happy with it for tonight."
High flying Ducks: Ruthy Hebard finished another night of perfect shooting. Hebard records 27 points on 12-for-12 from the field and added 10 rebounds. That brings her total points to 86 points over the last three games. Junior guard Maite Cazorla finished with 17 points hitting 4-for-7 from three-point range. Sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu, who was shadowed the whole night, was kept to a quiet 15 points but also grabbed nine rebounds. Bando finished with 11 points going 3-of-5 from three-point range.
Foul play: Mallory McGwire finished with four fouls.
Up next: Oregon stays home to host the No. 7 UCLA Bruins (21-5, 12-3 Pac-12) at 7 PM (PT) on Monday night at Matthew Night Arena.