It feels like it’s time for Miss March to have a big game.
Seventh-ranked Oregon benefited from a clutch shooting performance by Morgan Yaeger during the win over UCLA at the Pac-12 Tournament and got some productive minutes out of Lydia Giomi during Friday’s 78-40 win over Portland State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Oti Gildon, the Ducks’ only other healthy bench player, has had a knack for stepping into the spotlight at this time of year.
Coach Kelly Graves won’t be surprised if the senior forward does something to help Oregon, the No. 2 seed in the Portland Regional, beat No. 10 Indiana on Sunday at Matthew Knight Arena (6 p.m., ESPN2).
“They had a replay on last night of our Maryland game two years ago in the Sweet 16 when she had a double-double,” Graves said. “So she always seems to step up and play well.”
Gildon scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds to help the Ducks advance to the regional final two years ago. Last year she lived up to the “Miss March” nickname again by averaging 8.0 points in four NCAA Tournament games while helping the team get to another regional final in her hometown of Spokane.
With Taylor Chavez unavailable due to a fracture in her foot, Yaeger has been playing more minutes and made three timely 3-pointers to hold off the Bruins in semifinal thriller in Las Vegas. Giomi had seven points and four rebounds against the Vikings.
“I have faith in them one-through-eight,” Graves said. “And if and when Taylor gets back, one-through-nine.”
The Ducks are obviously highly motivated to advance to the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds next week in Portland, where they would enjoy a significant home-crowd advantage at Moda Center.
Indiana’s Bendu Yeaney also views this as a chance to stay home. She attended St. Mary’s Academy in Portland before leaving the state for Big Ten country.
“Bendu was very excited that she was coming home,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said of the Hoosiers being placed in the Portland Regional. “She’s a terrific athlete, she probably has the highest basketball I.Q. on our basketball team. She knows where every piece needs to be.”
Yeaney scored 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting and had a team-high six rebounds during the first-round victory over the Longhorns.
The sophomore guard, who is 5-foot-11 with a 6-3 wingspan, scored with 3.8 seconds left and blocked a shot on the other end to lift the Hoosiers to a 75-73 upset of No. 10 Iowa on Feb. 21.
“Bendu, a local kid, is a playmaker,” Graves said. “I watched her make the play to win the game against Iowa, a really good Iowa team, and they came back to do it.”
Oregon and Indiana have played only once before in women’s basketball — the Ducks’ 77-56 win in 1984 in Portland. … Dave Pasch, known for his back and forth with Bill Walton during the Pac-12 men’s broadcasts, will call Sunday’s game on ESPN2 with LaChina Robinson. … The Ducks are 5-3 all-time in NCAA Tournament games in Eugene, including 3-0 at Matthew Knight Arena.
“I thought he was going to be really mad, so I kind of hid from him after the game,” Sabrina Ionescu said of Graves’ reaction to her technical foul on Friday for taking a shot from the bench after she had been subbed out of the game. “Then he texted us and he was just saying that it was fine if this was the only time it was going to happen. So it will be the only time it’s going to happen.”