LAS VEGAS — Taylor Chavez wore some fresh bruises and a winning smile in the Oregon locker room on Friday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

The Pac-12’s sixth player of the year hit a 3-pointer to ignite the decisive 24-8 run in the second quarter as the top-seeded Ducks (29-2) overcame a sluggish start to beat eighth-seeded Utah 79-59 in the conference tournament quarterfinals.

Chavez, who had to get around Las Vegas on a medical scooter a year ago and was unable to play during the team’s Final Four journey due to a foot injury, bounced up from two hard fouls in the second half to celebrate Oregon's 17th consecutive victory.

“I feel great. Kind of,” Chavez said. “It is very nice. I’ve been waiting a year for this, so I’m so excited. I was so optimistic this morning like, ‘Finally, I get to play postseason.’”

The Utes (14-17) led 17-11 after a 3-pointer by Dru Gylten and 19-16 at the end of the first quarter after shooting 50% (8-for-16) from the field.

Chavez helped ratchet up the defensive intensity with two steals and a block to go with her eight points. Freshman guard Jaz Shelley scored 10 points in the first half on 4-for-4 shooting as Oregon outscored Utah 29-10 in the second quarter.

The Ducks went 10-for-16 behind the 3-point arc in the first half to surge to a 45-29 lead at the intermission.

“We can heat up in a second,” Shelley said. “It all comes from our defense. Once we click on the defensive end, on the other end there’s no stopping us. That second quarter was crazy.”

Sabrina Ionescu flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 19 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

Satou Sabally had 17 points but was 5-for-13 from the field. Ruthy Hebard, who faced consistent double teams, added eight points on 4-for-5 shooting.

Late in the game, coach Kelly Graves warned the players within earshot on the bench that the Ducks will be flying home early if they don’t play better.

Oregon advances to face fourth-seeded Arizona in the semifinals on Saturday. The Wildcats (24-6) defeated 12th-seeded California 86-73 to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2011.

“I don’t think we played our best, but that just goes to show how good we are,” senior guard Minyon Moore said after finishing with six points on 2-for-7 shooting with four assists and no turnovers. “Our starters didn’t come out strong, but we have a bench that comes in and gives us their all and we still come out with a 20-point game. …

“(Graves) didn’t lie. If we come out flat-footed like that, we will lose.”

Erin Boley was 3-for-6 being the arc, including a 3 late in the third quarter to extend the cushion to 62-42.

Utah cut its deficit to 69-57 in the fourth quarter with back-to-back three-point plays by Lola Pendande and Daneesha Provo.

Oregon answered with a 10-2 run to close the game.

“A little displeased on how we played,” Graves said. “I thought we were inconsistent at times in our effort and our execution. We still won the game. I thought after that first quarter we had it under control the whole time.

“We just didn't have that killer instinct and we didn't put them out when we had a chance.”

The Utes, coming off a 72-63 victory over Washington in the opening round on Thursday, were led by Pendande’s 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Oregon swept the regular-season series with lopsided wins in Eugene (88-51) and Salt Lake City (90-63).

“I do think they have the potential to win the whole thing, the national championship,” Utah coach Lynne Roberts said of the Ducks. “There are a few teams in our conference that have that potential. So congratulations to them. I wish them all the luck.

“I’m really proud of our team. The score may not be indicative of kind of the fight that was out there. Other than that second quarter — they hit eight 3s, and I think we had eight, nine turnovers — we played them completely even in the first, third and fourth.”

Oregon started its winning streak with a 71-64 win at Arizona and handed the Wildcats their worst loss of the season (85-52) at Matthew Knight Arena.

Chavez, who screamed “Let’s (expletive) go!” after breaking a 21-21 tie with her momentous 3, won’t let her teammates take any of these moments for granted.

“I’m just trying to be a little more vocal because I know next year I’ll have a bigger role in regards to being in a leadership position,” Chavez said.

Follow Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @RGDuckFootball and email questions to rthorburn@registerguard.com. For more Oregon sports coverage, visit DuckSports.com.