Ionescu’s FTs lift Oregon women past No. 11 Washington 70-69
SEATTLE (AP) With the game on the line, Oregon freshman Sabrina Ionescu boiled her approach down to basketball basics.
Ionescu hit two free throws with 6.4 seconds left to give Oregon a 70-69 upset victory over 11th-ranked Washington in a Pac-12 Conference Tournament quarterfinal on Friday night before a crowd of 9,686, the largest in the 16-year history of the tournament.
”It’s just basketball. Wherever you are, you’ve got to step up and hit those free throws,” Ionescu said. ”So, they came pretty naturally. Obviously, I told myself, I’m not missing these free throws. I didn’t want to let my team down, especially since I was put in that position. I was put in that position for a reason. I’m excited they went in and that’s why we practice free throws every day.”
Washington’s Kelsey Plum, the all-time NCAA scoring leader, attempted a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer, but the shot was partially blocked by Ruthy Hebard.
”There were two people on me, but there wasn’t a lot of time left, so I just tried to get it up there and someone tipped it,” Plum said.
Sixth-seeded Oregon (20-12) advances to Saturday’s semifinal against second-seeded and No. 10-ranked Stanford (26-5), which rolled past Washington State 66-36.
Plum, who entered with a nation-best 31.6 point average, finished with 34 points to push her career total to 3,431, but missed her last seven shots. Chantel Osahor, the nation’s leading rebounder, added 12 points and a game-high 27 rebounds for the third-seeded Huskies (27-5).
Lexi Bando scored 23 points, including 5 of 7 from beyond the arc, and Ionescu had 18 to lead Oregon, which made 11 of 23 3-pointers. Washington, whose 319 made 3-pointers entering the game were tops in the nation, was just 5 of 24 from long range.
Plum’s 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter put Washington up 60-51, but Bando scored 11 consecutive points to fuel a 15-4 run that put Oregon up 66-64 with 4:18 remaining.
Osahor converted a 3-point play to put the Huskies on top 69-66 with 3:05 left. Bando hit a jumper with 1:19 remaining to pull Oregon within 69-68.
”We’ll be ready in March,” Plum said. ”March Madness we’ll be ready, and I’m not going to miss like that again.”
Washington, which trailed 32-31 at half, ran off a 9-0 run midway through the third quarter, taking 48-41 lead on a layin by Plum.
Plum had 12 points in the quarter to help Washington take a 57-51 lead into the final period.
Oregon opened a 32-26 lead on a free throw by Hebard with 3:01 left in the half, but failed to score the rest of the way. Freshman guard Aarion McDonald scored on a layup and added a 3-pointer to bring the Huskies within 32-31 at the break.
Plum’s jumper put Washington up 13-10 with 5:30 left in the first quarter, but Oregon closed the period with a 12-4 run.