Stanford upends No. 1 seeded Oregon in title game

Dijonai Carrington led the Cardinal with 22-points as they earned revenge for a 40-point loss one month ago. Stanford earned its 13th Pac-12 tournament championship with a 64-57 victory over Oregon on Sunday night in Las Vegas, Nev.

Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon) and Kiana Williams (Stanford) swapped threes at around the minute mark, which forced Graves to take one of his remaining two timeouts. Unfortunately for the Ducks, Carrington pulled in her sixth offensive rebound on the Cards ensuing possession which forced the ducks to foul. The good news is that neither side was in one-on-one territory at this point, which gave the Ducks an extra possession to stop the clock with fouls.

With Stanford on the charity stripe, the Cardinal were able to expand their lead out to six-points with 36.4 seconds left in the championship game. A couple of rushed shots latter sent Stanford back to the line to make their lead eight and secure another conference tournament title.

Stanford capped off a 7-0 run with a Carrington steal and layup on the other end of the court; the Cardinal lead stood at 55-51 with just over three minutes left in regulation when Oregon took at timeout.

Both sides swapped buckets to start the fourth quarter, including a three pointer by Smith to give the Cards a two-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Ionescu would hit short-range jumper to give Oregon it’s largest lead just prior to the five minute mark…but Smith tied it right up on a three pointer on the ensuing possession.

After such a slow start to the game, the Ducks pulled ahead when Ionescu hit a pair of free throws to give Oregon its first lead of the game late in the third. On the ensuing Cardinal possession a poor shot was easily corralled by Oregon. Neither side scored with the remaining time left in the third quarter and the Ducks took a 42-41 lead into the final quarter.

Two of Stanford’s stars went to the locker room with apparent ankle injuries as the Ducks started the third quarter on 7-0 run to get within seven. The Cardinal’s timeout worked as they quickly hit a couple of shots to pull back ahead. This is when the game became a back and forth affair until the Ducks forced a couple of turnovers, then hit a pair of deep threes to get within one of Stanford with less than a minute to go.

Oregon’s offense was so much more effective in the third quarter because they were moving the ball better with more efficient passing and better positioning. The defense also played more aggressively and forced more turnovers.

Out of the gate in the second quarter, Graves squad came out more focused on guarding the perimeter. The counter that Stanford came up with to this different defensive look was to push the lane and nail layups; and they did that to great effect as they pushed their lead up to ten points with eight and half minutes left in the first half. It was a rough first half on offense as the Cardinal succeeded taking Graves’ team out of its offensive game plan.

The reasons for the Ducks offensive struggles was a poor first half from beyond the arc as they shot nine and only hit one at the break. While the Cardinal had hit three of 14 as they headed into the half with a nine-point lead.

Oregon’s offense started off out of sorts as they kept making poor shots on wide open opportunities. They made bad shots and bad passes as Stanford opened up with an 8-2 run to start the first quarter. Stanford built up this lead with two early three pointers that were hit after brilliantly run screens. But the Ducks eventually calmed down and they began to run their offense.

But it still wasn’t enough as the first quarter ended on an emphatic block by Stanford’s Smith on a three point attempt from the corner. Smith had a very good first quarter for the Cardinal.