Heading into Friday night against No. 6 Oregon, the one big question for the Arizona women’s basketball team was: Could they hang?
The first time these two teams met in January in Eugene, they couldn’t, as the Ducks crushed the Wildcats by 33 points.
About a month later, the UA is a much different — and improved — team. Alas, Oregon is still Oregon.
The Wildcats came out of the gate with their intensity dialed up a notch, but Oregon’s weapons were too much, as the Wildcats fell to the Ducks 83-54 at McKale Center. Sabrina Ionescu and post partner Ruthy Hebard were as advertised, leading the Ducks to a second straight Pac-12 regular season title.
After one quarter of play, UA was only down by four points. The Ducks extended their lead to seven before the Wildcats came clawing back, going on an 8-4 run in a little more than four minutes.
It started when Sam Thomas drove to the basket and was fouled. She made one of two free throws. In this stretch Cate Reese showed some good defense against Hebard before nailing an inside shot. Tee Tee Starks grabbed a rebound, passed to Aari McDonald who snaked her way in between two defenders to score.
UA closed the gap to one point, 29-28, before Hebard hit a three. This would be how the rest of the evening went. UA fought the rest of the way but, really, could get no closer. Every time the Wildcats made a little run, Oregon answered.
At one point in the second half, McDonald hit a 3 — sandwiched by two 3s from Ionescu.
Ionescu finished with 22 points and eight assists, while Hebard had 16 points and nine rebounds — one rebound shy of a double-double.
Oregon extended its lead to eight at the half, 40-32.
McDonald led all scorers with 26 points. She was UA’s only player in double figures. Thomas finished with nine points and two assists.
Arizona shot 34 percent from the field while Oregon shot 57.4 percent. At the end of the third quarter, the Wildcats were shooting 45 percent.
Oregon outrebounded UA 34-30.
Arizona drops to 17-11, 7-10 and Oregon improves to 26-3, 15-2.
UA plays Oregon State Sunday at 3 p.m. in McKale Center.
- After the national anthem, Arizona coach Adia Barnes presented McDonald with the game ball from last Sunday’s game against Cal. She broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record, a mark she continues to add to. The ball was printed with McDonald’s name and the details of the scoring record.