Sunday, March 26, 2017

Bridgeport Regional Semifinals: Tempo-Free Capsules

Head coach Brenda Frese and staff look on as Maryland battles Oregon in Bridgeport Regional semifinals. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- In the first game of Saturday’s regional semifinal doubleheader, tenth-seeded Oregon upset Maryland, the No. 3 seed, 77-63, to advance to the Elite Eight. The Ducks built a 36-27 lead at the half and held serve after the intermission. In a 38-possession opening stanza, Oregon showed a 95-73 edge in offensive efficiency.

Possessions: Oregon 73, Maryland 72
Offensive efficiency: Oregon 106, Maryland 88

Four Factors:
Effective field goal percentage: Oregon 51, Maryland 46
Free throw rate: Oregon 26, Maryland 30
Offensive rebound percentage: Oregon 42, Maryland 44
Turnover rate: Oregon 23, Maryland 29

What Oregon did well: Force turnovers. In raw numbers, Maryland was guilty of 21 miscues, something coach Brenda Frese lamented after the game.

What Maryland did well: Also force turnovers. While they committed their own share of mistakes, the Terrapins did force Oregon into 17 giveaways. However, they were unable to take advantage of that.

Leading scorers:
Oregon: Sabrina Ionescu, 21 points (Effectiveness factor: 32)
Maryland: Brionna Jones, 16 points (Effectiveness factor: 38, per minute: 1.00)
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, 16 points (Effectiveness factor: 21)

Ball control index:
Oregon 1.47
Maryland .952

Oregon is now 23-13, while Maryland ends the season at 32-3. For head coach Kelly Graves, the Ducks’ run has been a classic survive-and-advance march. The Ducks barely got by Temple in the first round before upsetting Duke in Durham. With Maryland now dispatched, Oregon stands a game away from a Final Four. They have an arduous task in Monday’s final, but the bottom line is the opportunity that awaits.

Geno Auriemma enters Webster Bank Arena moments before UConn's eventual victory over UCLA. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

UConn 86, UCLA 71

Although they would go on to their record 110th-straight win, UConn trailed UCLA, 9-2, through the first three minutes and 19 seconds. The deliberate pace and subsequent start was imperative for the Bruins, playing a de facto road game against the juggernaut Huskies, whose lone field goal in the game’s first five possessions came off an offensive rebound. In fact, UConn had four offensive boards in the initial stretch.

The Huskies soon uncorked one of their patented runs, this one a 20-4 spurt, through the remainder of the first quarter. Execution and ball movement resulting in two wide-open three-pointers by Kia Nurse were the highlights of the run.

UCLA lead guard Jordin Canada is a big part of the offense. To better utilize her, coach Cori Close shifted her to the off-guard position. UConn, through their transition game, built a 17-point lead at the intermission, leaving the Bruins struggling to find offensive cohesiveness.

Halftime: UConn 48, UCLA 31
Possessions: UConn 36, UCLA 35
Offensive efficiency: UConn 133, UCLA 89

It was imperative that the Bruins get off to a good start in the second half, to both try to alleviate their halftime deficit and get a positive first four minutes to build on and establish momentum. They did that, outscoring UConn by a 9-7 margin.

Close implored her charges to get out and run. Canada can trigger the break, but the Huskies had an answer in their transition defense. While UCLA received some inside effectiveness from 6-foot-4 center Monique Billings, UConn still owned a 65-52 lead through three quarters.

In the fourth quarter, the Bruins could not get the deficit under 13. UConn was in firm command, and still closing on the perimeter and challenging the offense as if it were a one-possession contest despite leading by 17 with four minutes to play. Kari Korver hits a few from the perimeter for the Bruins, but the issue was the fact that although Canada, Korver and Monique Williams had had their moments, they were unable to fire consistently as the Huskies extended their dynastic run one game further.

Possessions: UConn 68, UCLA 67
Offensive efficiency: UConn 127, UCLA 106

Four Factors
Effective field goal percentage: UConn 64, UCLA 45
Free throw rate: UConn 48, UCLA 21
Offensive rebound percentage: UConn 40, UCLA 33
Turnover rate: UConn 21, UCLA 9

Leading scorers:
UConn: Napheesa Collier, 27 points (Effectiveness factor: 49, per minute: 1.36, a superstar designation when using the Linton scale) UCLA: Jordin Canada, 20 points (Effectiveness factor: 32)

What UConn did well: For starters, shoot. The Huskies’ 64 percent eFG mark was aided by an impressive 9-of-20 showing from three-point range.

What UCLA did well: Care for the ball. The Bruins’ outstanding turnover rate was due to just six turnovers on the afternoon.

Ball Control Index:
UConn: 1.57
UCLA: 3.67
Billings led all rebounders with 16 boards. Collier paced the Huskies with 14 rebounds. The 6-foot-1 sophomore dished out five assists as well. UConn finished with four players in double figures, UCLA three. Canada had an outstanding game-high 11 assists against just two turnovers. Katie Lou Samuelson scored 15 points for the Huskies, adding six rebounds. Korver finished with 15 points, shooting 5-of-11; all from three point range, for the Bruins. UConn assisted on 20 of 30 field goals, a 67 percent assist rate.

The key factor, as Close noted, was the first half UConn run. The Bruins recovered from that and basically played even the rest of the way. The damage, though, was done. Rebounding was also an area both UCLA coach and players admitted was not acceptable.

UConn, who will face Oregon in the Bridgeport Regional final Monday night, is now 35-0, while UCLA finishes at 25-9.

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