Oregon women top Georgia 57-50, return to Sweet 16 as 6 seed
SAN ANTONIO — Sedona Prince scored 22 points, Nyara Sabally took over late and sixth-seeded Oregon beat No. 3 Georgia 57-50 on Wednesday in the women’s NCAA Tournament to advance to its fourth straight Sweet 16.
Sabally scored six straight points – including a putback of her own missed shot – to break open a tie game and give the Ducks a 54-48 lead with less than a minute to go. She finished with 15 points, including 10 in the second half, and nine rebounds.
“Ny and I talked before the fourth quarter and we were like: `We’re going to go to the Sweet 16,”‘ Prince said.
Oregon (15-8) is in the tournament for the 16th time overall, but this Ducks team came in less heralded than those led by Sabrina Ionescu, who missed out on her final chance at a national title last year because of the pandemic.
“Everybody knows what we had and the opportunity and capability of doing in this tournament last year and it was taken away from us … and the expectations weighed heavily on them,” coach Kelly Graves said. “And then when you start losing a few games and people start to question your program and then your own players sometimes maybe question themselves, (this) is great redemption.”
Jenna Staiti had 18 points and nine rebounds for Georgia (21-7), which was looking to reach its first Sweet 16 since 2013.
Staiti was encouraged by the step forward the Lady Bulldogs took this season.
“This is the standard,” she said. “This group of seniors and this team put Georgia back where it needs to be.”
After Sabally put the Ducks ahead to stay on a layup with 2:20 left, Georgia appeared to have tied the game with a jumper, but the officials said a foul was called before the shot. The foul call didn’t stop play because the referee lost her whistle in her mask.
“Any time you take points off the board, does it change momentum? Sure it does,” Georgia coach Joni Taylor said. “It’s a tie ballgame at that time and then it turns into a four-point swing for them.”
Georgia opened the fourth quarter with an 8-2 run to get within 42-41 with about six minutes to go, and it was back and forth from there until Sabally came through for Oregon.
The Ducks relied on their starters, and only four players scored. Taylor Mikesell had 11 points and Erin Boley finished with nine.
Poor long-range shooting hurt Georgia, which went 1 of 13 from 3-point range.
Oregon will face second-seeded Louisville in the Alamo Region.
PROMOTING THE GAME
Prince has been a vocal advocate for the sport, and her social media video highlighting the disparities between the women’s and men’s weight rooms at the tournament went viral and started a broad dialogue about the inequities in NCAA basketball.
She knows some people who don’t normally watch women’s basketball might have tuned in to watch her play this week and hopes her outspokenness has taught them something about the game.
“I hope they see that women’s basketball is not boring,” she said. “It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s different than men’s basketball but in an amazing way. … We just wanted to show that we’re fun to watch.”
Both the men’s and women’s Oregon teams are in the Sweet 16 after the seventh-seeded men beat No. 2 Iowa on Monday to advance.
“This has been a great couple of days for the University of Oregon,” Graves said.