New-Look Ducks Win Debut
EUGENE, Ore. — Taylor Mikesell had 28 points in her UO women's basketball debut and senior post Lydia Giomi tallied a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds as the No. 10 Ducks opened the 2020-21 season with a 116-51 victory over Seattle in Matthew Knight Arena.
The Ducks (1-0) had 11 different players score, including five in double figures. Sophomores Sedona Prince and Nyara Sabally returned from two-year layoffs due to injury with 17 and 10 points, respectively, and Maddie Scherr led Oregon's freshmen in their debut with nine points.
"It was awesome," said Mikesell, a junior transfer from Maryland. "I think it was really good for all of us collectively just to get back out there on the court and play basketball again. And then super excited for Sedona and Nyara to put on a jersey again."
How It Happened: The first official bucket of 2020-21 was courtesy of guard Te-Hina Paopao, the first freshman to start a season opener for the Ducks since Sabrina Ionescu in 2016. Mikesell missed her first three-point attempt of the game but then made seven in a row, the first putting Oregon up 12-4 in the opening minutes, and the last coming as part of a 13-0 run that put the Ducks up 61-24 late in the second quarter.
In between, Prince made her presence felt, leading all scorers with nine points in the first quarter; of her four field goals, three were assisted by Paopao. Other than Mikesell, Oregon's other shooters got off to a slow start, with Maddie Scherr the only other Duck to made a three-pointer in the first half. That came as the Ducks scored the final 10 points of the second quarter to lead 71-25 at halftime.
From there, head coach Kelly Graves was able to try different combinations of players and run through all the defensive sets Oregon intends to employ this year. Sabally had four points and four rebounds in the third quarter as the Ducks extended their lead, and Giomi completed her double-double in the fourth quarter.
Who Stood Out: Mikesell finished 8-of-10 from three-point range, setting personal bests for points and made three-pointers in a game. Prince was 8-of-11 from the floor and grabbed six rebounds, and Sabally also had six boards to go along with her 10 points.
Sabally missed each of the last two years with knee injuries, and Prince also rehabbed injuries the last two years, first at Texas and then at Oregon after transfering a year ago.
"They performed really well," Graves said. "They're going to be a dynamic duo. We played them a little bit together; not a ton. But they'll be a combination we play more and more together."
What It Means: Graves has touted Oregon's depth and three-pointing shooting, and the depth was definitely on display Saturday afternoon. Other than Mikesell, the Ducks' other shooters were 2-of-21 from three-point range, but Graves saw a silver lining in that.
"It's not often a couple of our players are going to shoot like that, most nights," Graves said. "So that was encouraging."
Graves said he had "some concerns" about the defensive intensity, but also noted that cohesiveness on that end of the court has to be built in games.
"We worked on everything we do, so it was a little discombobulated at times," the UO coach said. "But that will be the last thing to come along, is the defense, because that takes time and experience."
Notable: The Ducks used 12 players in the first quarter alone, and played all 13 on the roster by halftime. … The five-player freshman class was on the court together for a stretch of the third quarter, during which Oregon extended its lead from 49 to 53 points. … Oregon committed just three turnovers in the game, and forced 14 that the Ducks converted into 26 points. …. The Ducks got exactly 58 points from their starters and 58 off the bench.
Up Next: The Ducks go on the road to play at Portland on Monday (8 p.m., NBC Sports Northwest).