CORVALLIS — A matchup of two ranked teams and two elite inside-outside combinations went down to the wire Friday night, with No. 7 Oregon dropping a Pac-12 game for the first time this season, an 85-79 loss to No. 18 Oregon State before 6,704 fans in Gill Coliseum.
Playing without senior guard Lexi Bando, who is out indefinitely with a leg injury, the Ducks clawed back from an early deficit and led several times in a back-and-forth second half. Sabrina Ionescu hit a three-pointer to force overtime, on her way to a career-high 35 points, but the Beavers led throughout the extra five minutes to win their 14th straight Civil War matchup.
"It was a good basketball game," UO coach Kelly Graves said. "Both teams played with a lot of intensity, a lot of heart. Gosh dang, one of these days I'd like to beat the Beavers, for crying out loud."
How It Happened: The Ducks (17-3, 6-1 Pac-12) played reasonably well in the first half but trailed 42-36 at halftime after Oregon State (14-4, 5-2) made its first eight three-point attempts and led by as many as 12 in the second quarter. It was 49-38 in the third when momentum turned; a zone defense helped Oregon hold OSU scoreless for 6:34, during which they went on an 8-0 run thanks to four of Mallory McGwire's patented midrange jumpers.
Oregon trailed 57-53 early in the fourth quarter when Ionescu hit two free throws, then set up Ruthy Hebard for a game-tying layup. OSU post Marie Gulich made one free throw at the other end, but Hebard again scored on an assist from Ionescu and the Ducks had their first lead since the opening moments of the game, at 59-58.
The lead changed hand four more times over the next few minutes, with Oregon maintaining a 71-69 lead thanks to a Hebard steal and layup before OSU took timeout with 49.7 seconds left. Mikayla Pivec hit a corner three on an inbounds play out of the timeout, and after Ionescu missed a three, Katie McWilliams put the Beavers up 74-71. The lead remained three after each team made one-of-two free throws, but Ionescu hit a three-pointer with six seconds left in regulation to force overtime.
The Ducks made just one more field goal in the final five minutes, however. Ionescu made two free throws to keep Oregon within 81-79, but McWilliams followed with a three-pointer on which she was fouled, and made the free throw that proved to be the daggar.
"I thought we had them going into overtime," Graves said. "Had the momentum obviously, and just didn't make a lot of plays."
As much as OSU won the game with big plays in overtime, the Beavers also caused the Ducks to grind it out from behind from the opening minutes. The OSU women made 7-of-7 three-pointers in the first quarter, and didn't commit a turnover until there were seven seconds lefts in the period. The Ducks trailed 28-17 after the period, and ultimately fell behind as much as 38-26 before fighting back within six at halftime.
Who Stood Out: Ionescu got her career-high 35 points on 11-of-27 shooting, and 11-of-12 free-throw shooting. She attacked the post all night, either pulling up for short jumpers or dishing to Hebard, who finished with 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting. McGwire added 10 points with nine rebounds, and Satou Sabally also grabbed nine rebounds. Playing without Bando, the Ducks didn't get any bench scoring. For OSU, Gulich had 28 points and 15 rebounds, and Kat Tudor scored 34 points with 7-of-10 three-point shooting.
What It Means: The Ducks had a fourth-quarter lead for the third straight Civil War matchup but are still looking to break through and close one out entering Sunday's rematch.
Up Next: The Ducks and Beavers meet again in Matthew Knight Arena on Sunday (5 p.m., Pac-12 Network).