Adia Barnes was not visibly upset or angry with Pac-12 referees Melissa Barlow, Kyle Bacon and Benny Luna, but her words indicated she was not pleased with how the game was officiated in No. 7 Arizona’s 68-66 overtime loss at Oregon.
She appeared to be resigned to the fact that road games in the conference are going to bring the hardships — including questionable calls — that Arizona faced Saturday while allowing a 17-point lead in the third quarter disappear.
“It is what it is, and that’s what the Pac-12 is — we’re going to get homered at different places and that was clearly going on today,” Barnes said.
The Wildcats were whistled for 23 fouls compared to 15 by Oregon. Arizona attempted only 10 free throws (making five) while Oregon had 26 tries, converting 22.
Lauren Ware and Ariyah Copeland fouled out in overtime. Nobody from Oregon had more than three fouls.
“I thought that we didn’t play a bad game, and I thought we did some really good things,” Barnes said. “We didn’t do a good job of maintaining our lead down the stretch, but a lot of very questionable calls didn’t go our way.”
Arizona (12-3, 2-2 Pac-12) looked as though it could continue to reverse its fortunes against nemesis Oregon through three quarters, but the Ducks came on too strong in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
The Wildcats were on their way to a third straight win over Oregon after achieving a sweep last season, leading by 13 while shooting 50 percent from the field when entering the fourth quarter.
But Oregon (9-5, 2-1) went on a furious rally, outscoring the Wildcats 18-5 in the fourth quarter.
The Ducks pulled out the win on Endyia Rogers’ last-second shot in overtime after the one-time Arizona recruiting target as a transfer from USC grabbed a loose ball following an Oregon miss.
Arizona made 21 of 42 shots from the field with 10 turnovers entering the fourth quarter. The Wildcats made only 5 of 18 shots in the fourth quarter and overtime. They also committed six turnovers in that span.
“Just really proud of the grit, the toughness. We got it done, and that’s a huge win for us,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said.
Arizona did not score in the fourth quarter until 6:05 remained, and at that time — when Bendu Yeaney made a 3-pointer — the Wildcats led 57-48.
Oregon outscored Arizona 11-2 until the end of regulation to force overtime. The Wildcats were 1 of 5 from the field in that stretch. A turnover by Shaina Pellington with 21 seconds left led to Nyara Sabally’s jumper 10 seconds later that tied the game at 59.
Oregon had a foul to give without sending Arizona to the free-throw line and Sabally fouled Pellington with 1 second left in regulation before Pellington could take a shot. The ensuing inbounds pass attempt to Cate Reese near the basket was unsuccessful as the buzzer sounded.
Arizona finished 2 of 10 from the field in the fourth quarter. Oregon’s Sedona Prince outscored Arizona in the quarter with 10 points on 5 of 8 shooting.
When asked by a reporter why Arizona’s offense struggled after the fourth quarter started, Barnes said, “Well, everybody was in foul trouble so I think you tend to be less aggressive.”
“And that’s something we can control,” she added. “We had to be a little smarter, knowing the game was being called really tight. I think it’s just hard. There was a lot of inconsistency. It was just tough for us to play, but not an excuse at all. We have to know on the road, it’s like this. Probably some teams feel like that when they come to Arizona.”
Ware, in foul trouble throughout after getting two fouls three minutes into the game, made her first basket of the game with 3:06 left in overtime to tie the game at 61.
She was assessed her fifth foul on Oregon’s ensuing possession.
Sabally made one of two free throw attempts to put the Ducks ahead 62-61 with 2:38 left. Yeaney answered with a driving layup almost 20 seconds later.
Neither team scored until Te-Hina Paopao made a layup with 43 seconds left, giving Oregon a 64-63 lead. Paopao, whose uncle Joe Salave’a is a former Arizona football standout, finished with a career-high 24 points despite vomiting pre-game, at halftime and early in the second half, according to Graves.
After an Arizona turnover, Rogers was fouled with 20 seconds left and she made both free throws to increase the lead to 66-63.
Yeaney, who had approximately 50 family members and friends come from Portland to attend the game, responded with a 3-pointer with 16 seconds remaining to tie the game.
Sydney Parrish took a pass for an open 3-pointer with three seconds left but the ball clanged off the rim in the direction of Rogers, who immediately took the short baseline jumper for the game-winning shot.
The Wildcats tried to win three straight games against Oregon for the first time since the 2010-11 season.
They will have to be content with earning a split on the road. Pellington’s buzzer-beater Thursday defeated Oregon State.
“We’re disappointed with today but not disappointed with our fight,” Barnes said.
Koi Love’s putback culminated a 13-2 run that put Arizona ahead 36-23 with 50 seconds left in the first half, giving her eight points on 4-of-5 shooting after she did not play Thursday at Oregon State.
Love did not score in the second half or overtime but she had seven rebounds in the game.
Reese made two 3-pointers and Yeaney added another one in that run that gave Arizona separation.
Reese has made 11 shots from beyond the arc this season through 14 games after making her personal season-best of 13 last year in 27 games. She has attempted more 3-pointers (36) than any of her previous three seasons at Arizona.
She finished with 10 points and five rebounds. Her career rebound total is now 701. She is the fourth Arizona player to reach 1,300 points and 700 rebounds in a career. She has 1,357 career points.
Barnes is one of the four players with 2,237 points and 921 rebounds. The others are Ify Ibekwe (1,653 points and 1,194 rebounds) and Elizabeth Pickney (1,620 points and 736 rebounds).
Barnes was critical of the fact that Reese did not attempt a free throw despite her aggressive style while Sabally had 14 attempts and made 10.
“Half of (Sabally’s) points were from the free throw line and Cate had zero,” Barnes said. “Cate’s really aggressive. They’re probably similar in their aggressiveness. So Sabally was 10 for 14 from the free throw line and Cate, who is a pretty aggressive player, was 0 for 0, no attempts.
“Usually Cate would have had, I would say, six to eight, at least, in this game.”
The Wildcats shot 53.3 percent from the field in the first half while Oregon made only 29.2 percent of its attempts.
Oregon went without a made field goal for almost 4 minutes, 30 seconds until Prince made a jumper at the halftime buzzer to cut Arizona’s lead to 38-27.
Arizona was able to sustain a double-digit lead in the third quarter behind two 3-pointers by Helena Pueyo and another by Sam Thomas. Pellington also had four points by making her only shot attempt in the quarter.
Oregon had four turnovers and four field goals made in the third quarter as Arizona went into the fourth quarter with a 54-41 lead.
The game then completely changed.
Oregon’s return trip to McKale Center is scheduled Feb. 4 at 8 p.m.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.