Women's Basketball Holds Off Saint Mary's 72-61 in WNIT First Round

March 13, 2002

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Even with its best and most experienced player on the bench fighting the flu, Oregon found a way to win its first postseason game in three seasons.

Andrea Bills scored 17 points and Cathrine Kraayeveld added 15 and 11 rebounds as the Ducks (18-13) overcame the loss of star point guard Shaquala Williams to defeat St. Mary's 72-61 in a first-round game of the Women's National Invitation Tournament.

The Gaels (16-13) were led by West Coast Conference player of the year Jerkisha Dosty, who scored 23 points. Her twin sister Jermisha Dosty added 18 and 10 rebounds.

Williams, a first-team all-Pac-10 player and Oregon's leading scorer at 17.7 points per game, played only eight minutes of the first half before being taken out of the game. She left with no points, two rebounds and two turnovers. It was the first time Williams hadn't scored in a game since Feb. 11, 1999 against Washington State.

But Bills made 8-of-11 shots and Kraayeveld 7-of-9 as the Ducks went inside to their post players with their top perimeter shooter on the sideline.

'Without Shaq, you know you have some points to make up,' said Bills, a freshman center. 'We just knew we had to come together as a team.' Shooting guard Edniesha Curry had 10 points and five steals, and reserve guards Kourtney Shreve and Alissa Edwards helped replace Williams with five points each off the bench.

'The bench was absolutely wonderful,' said Oregon's first-year head coach Bev Smith. 'That's what the postseason is all about. Everyone that played contributed, and whether it was big or small, it was positive.'

Oregon, which had made eight-straight NCAA tournament appearances prior to this season, ismarking its first trip to the WNIT in its current format. It did appear twice in the National Women's Invitation Tournament, the last coming in 1989 when the Ducks beat San Diego State 67-64 for the title. The Ducks will next take on the winner of the Oregon State-Hawaii game, being played Thursday night in Corvallis, Ore.

With the game tied 30-30 59 seconds into the second half, Jamie Craighead hit a three-pointer and Kraayeveld had a put back to give the Ducks their largest lead since early in the game at 35-30.

Up 48-42 with 9:40 to play, Kourtney Shreve - Williams' replacement - knocked down a shot from well behind the 3-point line and scored on a layup, as the Ducks used a 7-0 run to go up 55-42 for their largest lead of the night with 7:55 to play.

St. Mary's twice cut its deficit to six points in the final five minutes, but Craighead answered with a 3-pointer the first time for a 59-50 Oregon lead, and Bills answered the second time with a layup for a 63-55 advantage at 2:57.

The Ducks finished by making 7-of-8 free-throw attempts in the final 1:10 to seal the win.

'Andrea Bills is going to be a player,' Gaels head coach Michelle Jacoby said. 'We tried a lot of things on her ... she just took it to us.'

The Gaels did outrebound Oregon 41-35, including 17-12 on the offensive end. But St. Mary's also turned the ball over 22 times, 15 of which came off steals by the Ducks.

The Gaels were also done in by shooting only 37 percent from the field on 57 attempts. The Ducks didn't do much better, converting only 27-of-61 opportunities (43 percent), including 5-for-18 from the 3-point line.

It was a different story in the first half, when the Ducks needed a steal and layup by Curry with under a minute to play to take a 30-28 lead into the break.

Jerkisha Dosty had 16 points and seven rebounds at halftime, and the Gaels had scored 12 points on 11 offensive rebounds. They even held a 21-19 advantage with 8:13 to play.

But in the second half, the Ducks held their own in the paint, winning the rebound battle 19-18, and limiting the Gaels' second-chance points to three.

'We talked at halftime that they are the real deal in terms of offensive rebounding and we needed to disrupt that,' Smith said. 'They only had six offensive rebounds in the second half and that's the main story.'

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