( GAME PREVIEW ) PAC-12 TOURNAMENT SEMI-FINAL BATTLE – No. 1 Seed Oregon Takes on No. 4 Seed Arizona for a Spot in the Tournament Finale

Oregon women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves was straight forward and to the point Friday night.

“If we come out and play like that tomorrow, we’re going home.  We can’t expect teams to roll over just because the Mighty Ducks are in town”

Graves understands the makeup of his team better than anyone,…and he’s right.

The Wildcats will face the Ducks in the first semifinal game of the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas Saturday evening.

Arizona is coming off an 86-73 win over Cal in the quarterfinals.

Post Cate Reese scored a career-high 30 points and it was more than enough to dispose a Bears team that pulled off an upset win over Arizona State in the first round.   But against a much quicker Arizona squad, Cal didn’t have the fire power to keep up.

Cal did, however, keep Wildcat superstar Aari McDonald somewhat in check with just 13 points.    That defensive effort might have provided a blueprint to Oregon on how to hold the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and scoring leader in check.

In the two games with the Ducks, the senior point guard averaged 19 points against Oregon.   She scored 25 in Tucson in a 71-64 loss to Oregon where the Wildcats had the Ducks on the ropes until the visitors made the plays down the stretch.

The second meeting wasn’t much of a game at all.

Oregon blitzed Arizona 85-52.   McDonald was held to just 13 points and Reese added 17, but pulled down just two boards.

Arizona shouldn’t feel bad about getting crushed in Eugene.

Everyone got crushed in Eugene.   But in Las Vegas, on a neutral court in the Pac-12 tournament, it can be a completely different matter.   The Cats have shown the capability of hanging with and beating the best teams in the nation.

They’ve also shown the ability to be upset as well.

The very last weekend of the conference season illustrated that perfectly.   Arizona stunned No. 4 Stanford 73-72 in overtime, but then on Senior Day, they managed to lose to last place California 55-54 on a rebound basket with 13 seconds left.

So which Arizona team shows up?

The one that gave Oregon all it wanted and upset the Cardinal or the team that was stunned by Cal?

If Graves has his way, however, his Oregon team comes out focused and aggressive and it won’t matter which Wildcat team shows itself.

Either way, it should be a Duck victory and ticket into the tournament finale on Sunday.

~ Don Smalley

TEAM NOTES

» Advanced to the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals for the fourth straight year and sixth time in program history; Oregon is 2-3 all-time in semifinal games.
» Sixth Pac-12 Tournament win in the last seven games; 12-17 all-time.
» Will face No. 4 seed Arizona in the semifinals on Saturday at 6 PM PT; 2-0 this season against the Wildcats.
» Current senior class is now 8-2 all-time in the Pac-12 Tournament; UO was 4-15 prior to 2017.
» Improved to 29-2 overall with 17th straight victory, tying last season for the second-longest win streak in program history (21, 1978-79).
» Outscoring opponents by 25.5 PPG during 17-game win streak.
» 12 made three-pointers tied for the fourth-most in a Pac-12 Tournament game; three teams have made 13.
» Trailed 19-16 after the first quarter before outscoring Utah 29-10 in the second; first time Oregon has trailed after the first quarter since Jan. 26 at Oregon State.
» Shot 52.2 percent (12-of-23) from three-point range, including 66.7 percent (8-of-12) in the second quarter alone; 14th game this year with double-digit three-pointers.
» Assisted on 20 of 29 total field goals; shot an even 50.0 percent from the floor.
» Now one win away from a third straight 30-win season, and a third straight trip to the Pac-12 Tournament finals.

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