Big Plays At Both Ends Seal Win
PULLMAN, Wash. — Jaz Shelley and Erin Boley hit back-to-back three-pointers down the stretch and freshman Maddie Scherr made a couple of key plays on the defensive end to help the No. 8 Oregon women's basketball team fight off an upset bid at Washington State on Monday, 69-65.
The Ducks (7-0, 5-0 Pac-12) led for less than seven minutes in the game, but made big plays down the stretch to extend their winning streak overall to 26 games, longest in the country. Monday's result was just the fourth of those 26 straight wins decided by single digits, and the first since a 74-66 win at then-No. 4 Stanford on Feb. 24.
"This is good," UO coach Kelly Graves said. "This is an eye-opener for them, and a humbling experience. But they passed the test."
WSU (3-1, 2-1) led for more than 31 minutes Monday, including 62-60 after two free throws. Shelley gave Oregon the lead for good by banking in a three-pointer, Scherr had a steal on the Cougars' end and then Boley hit another three-pointer to make it 66-62. With the score 67-65, WSU got an open look at a three-pointer that missed, with Scherr grabbing the rebound and securing the victory with two free throws.
"We showed some composure there at the end," Graves said. "They got a pretty good three-point look that I wish they wouldn't have gotten, but we made the plays. We deserve a lot of credit, those kids do."
How It Happened: Nyara Sabally was the Ducks' most dependable player from start to finish, keeping Oregon in the game to set the stage for the late-game heroics by others. She scored five of the first eight points of the matinee for the UO women, including a rebound-basket for an 8-8 tie. A three-pointer by Taylor Mikesell two possessions later gave Oregon an 11-10 lead, but WSU scored eight in a row and the Ducks didn't lead again until late in the third quarter.
WSU led 20-14 after the first, and scored on consecutive possessions for a 25-16 lead early in the second. Angela Dugalic and Sabally finished at the basket to get Oregon within five, but the Ducks then committed a series of turnovers that helped the Cougars extend their lead to 32-24. WSU led 37-32 at halftime, at which point the Ducks had 11 turnovers and had surrendered nine offense rebounds.
It was 41-32 in the third when the Ducks started to get going. Te-Hina Paopao got to the basket for the first of four straight made shots by Oregon; Sabally added a bucket and then Boley and Shelley hit back-to-back threes. It was 43-42 at that point, and after WSU pulled out to a 48-42 advantage, Shelley and Sabally responded with baskets and then Shelley hit a three pointer for Oregon's first lead since the opening quarter, 49-48.
Trailing 50-49 entering the fourth, the Ducks traded the lead with the Cougars a few times. Boley hit a three-pointer for a 58-58 tie, and after WSU pulled ahead again, Paopao crossed over a defender at the arc, drove into the lane and then pulled up for a game-tying jumper. The Cougars briefly pulled ahead on two free throws, but Shelley's banked three-pointer gave Oregon the lead for good, 63-62.
Who Stood Out: Sabally was 9-of-17 shooting for 19 points and grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds, her second career double-double. Boley added 18 points on 5-of-5 three-point shooting — she now has an even 200 made three-pointers in her UO career — and Shelley scored 11 points. Sabally and Sydney Parrish each blocked two shots, and Boley and Mikesell each had two steals.
What It Means: The Ducks now will get a much-deserved break for the holidays before returning to practice next week. Players had the opportunity to travel directly from Pullman to their home towns after the game.
"On top of the normal pressures of a regular season, with COVID and everything that's happening, it's a lot of extra stress on everybody," Boley said. "We've been working really hard to make sure we're diligent and able to play and compete. There's a little bit of that added stress on top of what a regular season brings.
"I think every year, every team needs a bit of a break around Christmas. But I think this year in particular."
Notable: The Ducks are 7-0 for the second time in three years. … Oregon has won 13 straight road games, the second-longest active streak in the nation. … The UO women trailed after the first quarter and after the first half for the first time this season. … At least three players have scored in double figures in all seven games.
Up Next: The Ducks host USC on New Year's Day.