This post was updated Feb. 14 at 11:42 p.m.
Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu air-balled her first shot – a stepback 3 from the left wing.
It was one of the few opportunities for the season-high 5,912 fans in Pauley Pavilion to cheer during a wire-to-wire victory for the Ducks.
No. 7 UCLA women’s basketball (21-3, 10-3 Pac-12) suffered its first home loss of the season to No. 3 Oregon (23-2, 12-1) by a score of 80-66 on Friday evening. Two Ducks – Ionescu and forward Ruthy Hebard – outscored the entire Bruin roster 30-28 in the first half, leaving UCLA with a 20-point deficit when it headed into the locker room.
Coach Cori Close said she made every player who played in the first quarter express what they felt and why they weren’t present for the opening frame after the game.
UCLA then outscored Oregon 38-32 in the second half, pulling within 10 points off the lead with just over two minutes to play – but it wasn’t enough.
“We needed to look in the mirror (at halftime) and figure out who’s fighting and who’s not,” said redshirt senior guard Japreece Dean. “I felt like collectively, as a team, we didn’t fight.”
Hebard, standing at 6-foot-4 – three inches taller than any Bruin who played Friday – scored 10 points in the first quarter alone, in comparison to UCLA’s eight total points in that frame. She logged her 12th double-double of the season with 30 points on 14-of-19 shooting and 17 boards.
The Bruins routinely doubled Hebard, daring guard Minyon Moore – who finished with nine points, including one made 3 – to shoot from deep.
UCLA had its second-worst 3-point shooting night of the season, converting just two of 23 attempts from beyond the arc – including eight missed attempts by freshman guard Charisma Osborne. Oregon made more 3s on fewer attempts, shooting 6-of-15 from deep.
Despite Dean shooting 1-of-6 from 3, Close said she was pleased with the mindset Dean had heading into her shots.
“Some of (the 3s) were so wide open in the first quarter, I think it shook us a little bit (and) it needs to not,” Close said. “I was really pleased with how (Dean) came out tonight. I thought when she stepped up and shot her 3s, it was with confidence and rhythm, and I think that is one of the best mindsets that she’s had in several weeks.”
The Ducks went on a 57-second 7-0 run late in the first quarter, prompting a timeout from Close and gaining a double-digit lead they would never relinquish.
“We came out really tentative and worried about the wrong things,” Close said. “We let our offensive frustrations affect our defensive intensity and energy.”
Oregon – which boasts 6-foot-4 forward Satou Sabally in addition to Hebard – used its size to its advantage on the glass and in the paint, finishing with 40 rebounds, seven more than UCLA. The Ducks also made 19-of-24 layups, converting four more than they allowed the Bruins to take.
Junior forward Michaela Onyenwere led UCLA in scoring, dropping 17 of her 23 points in the second half. Defensively, she was one of a few Bruins tasked with guarding Ionescu and Hebard for different stretches of the game.
“We weren’t really fighting and we needed to fight,” Onyenwere said. “I just tried to do everything for my team and take what the defense was giving me.”
Close said her strategy of guarding Ionescu with bigs, including Onyenwere and junior guard Chantel Horvat, intended to allow those players to switch onto Hebard in the pick and roll.
But the Oregon guard – who had 24 and eight inscribed on each shoe in remembrance of former Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant – still finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, including her 1,000th career assist.
Ionesco is now 27 rebounds away from becoming the first player in Division I basketball history – men or women – to reach 2,000-plus points, 1,000-plus assists and 1,000-plus rebounds.
UCLA will stay at home to play its fifth ranked opponent in six matches when it hosts No. 11 Oregon State on Monday.