- Associated Press - Saturday, January 6, 2018

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Oregon women’s basketball team had won all its games by large margins, except for the ones it lost by double digits.

What the No. 9 Ducks had not experienced until their 70-66 victory over Southern California on Friday night was an actual close game.

“It’s nice to know that on the road against a team that was playing pretty well, that we can make the plays down the stretch,” Ducks coach Kelly Graves said.

It made for their first single-digit game of the season, a victory led by Maite Cazorla hitting a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 1:32 left for the last of her 18 points.

The victory left the Ducks (14-2, 3-0 Pac-12) at least feeling tested down the stretch.

Oregon also got 16 points from leading scorer Sabrina Ionescu, who was 9 of 10 from the free-throw line. Cazorla added six assists, and the biggest 3-pointer of Oregon’s young season.

“I wasn’t hitting them before, but you have to keep shooting,” Cazorla said.

She made only one of her first five 3-point attempts, but the entire Ducks team struggled early from the 3-point line, particularly in the first quarter.

The Ducks were 1 of 10 from deep and turned the ball over 10 times in the first period. They were fortunate to trail only 14-7 at its end.

“You have 10 turnovers and shoot 14.3 percent (overall) in the first quarter, you’re going to be down to anyone,” Graves said.

USC (10-4, 0-3) trailed by as many as 10 points in the third quarter but got a huge offensive lift from Kristen Simon in the second half to tie it at 62. Simon, shut out in the first half, finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.

“The coach called my number and my teammates passed me the ball,” Simon said. “I was ready.”

Sadie Edwards’ driving layup tied it at 62 before Cazorla stepped up and calmly hit her 3.

“They made a big 3,” USC coach Mark Trakh said. “They ran a nice play. We have to answer that and in the future we will.”

USC also got 16 points from Minyon Moore and 11 points from Edwards.

It was the lowest scoring game of the season for the Ducks. They started the night averaging 89.2 points per game, fourth most in the country.

They also were shooting 40.8 percent from the 3-point line, also fourth best. Against USC, they hit on just 9 of 26 3-pointers.

“It seemed like a typical night, we just didn’t make as many as we normally do,” Graves said. “That’s kind of what we do.”

BIG PICTURE

Oregon: The Ducks will carry their perfect Pac-12 record into Pauley Pavilion in an early conference showdown with No. 14 UCLA, the preseason conference favorite.

USC: After going a strong 10-1 in the preseason, the Trojans are still looking for their first conference win.

UP NEXT

Oregon: Travels across town to play at UCLA on Sunday.

USC: Remains at home on Sunday to play No.16 Oregon State.


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