Ducks Open 2021 With 92-69 Win
EUGENE, Ore. – Playing its first game in 11 days after the holiday break, the Oregon women's basketball used an impressive second quarter to pull away and open 2021 with a 92-69 New Year's Day win over USC on Friday night in Matthew Knight Arena.
The No. 8 Ducks improved to 8-0 overall and 6-0 in Pac-12 play while extending their program record and the nation's longest active winning streak to 27 straight games dating back to last season.
Oregon outscored USC (3-5, 1-5) 23-7 in the second quarter while going 10-of-18 (.556) from the floor to take a 43-19 lead into halftime. That proved to be the difference, as the two teams matched each other with 50 points apiece in a high-scoring second half.
"I was really pleased with how we played," said head coach Kelly Graves. "I don't know if you see this very often but we hold a team to 19 points in the first half and then 50 in the second half. Too bad our fans weren't here; they would have loved to see a game like that.
"We did some good things defensively. I thought in that first half we had them completely out of sync. I was really impressed with our effort and execution in the first half."
How it Happened: Jaz Shelley opened the scoring with a triple after a slow start by both teams, and Te-Hina Paopao followed with back-to-back lay-ins to give Oregon a 7-0 lead and force an early USC timeout. A couple baskets by Nyara Sabally made it 13-4, but USC (3-5, 1-5) fought back and trailed by just seven through the first 10 minutes.
The Ducks went on a 19-2 run early in the second quarter to take their biggest lead of the first half at 38-14. Baskets by Lydia Giomi, Maddie Scherr, Taylor Mikesell and Kylee Watson fueled nine straight Oregon points before USC answered with a bucket, but Sabally and Erin Boley got right back to work for the Ducks with five points apiece in a 10-0 run. USC made it a 21-point game before Boley hit a turnaround jumper as time expired to send the Ducks into the locker room up by 23 points.
Paopao opened the third quarter with a triple to give Oregon its largest lead of the game at 26 points, but the Ducks were unable to string multiple baskets together for much of the period as USC brought the deficit back down to less than 20 points. Back-to-back baskets by Mikesell and Kylee Watson made it a 24-point lead at the 2:49 mark, and Boley brought it back to that margin entering the fourth quarter with a three-pointer after a Watson steal.
USC got to within 16 points in the fourth quarter before six straight Oregon points – four by Shelley and two by Giomi – brought the Ducks' lead back to 22. Watson scored a pair of baskets in the final minute to secure Oregon's seventh win this season of 20 points or more.
Who Stood Out: Despite playing without Sedona Prince and Sydney Parrish due to injury and Taylor Chavez because of a family matter, the Ducks had a season-high six different players score in double figures. Mikesell led the way with 16 points, Sabally finished with 15, Paopao had 14, Boley and Shelley each recorded 13 apiece and Watson finished with a career-high 11 points, becoming the 10th different Duck already this season to score in double digits. Freshman Angela Dugalic led the team with nine rebounds to match her season-high.
What it Means: Oregon is 8-0 overall for just the third time in program history while starting 6-0 in Pac-12 play for the third time in the last four seasons. In addition to extending the nation's longest win streak, the Ducks also won their 24th straight regular-season conference game and 22nd consecutive home game, improving to 53-2 inside Matthew Knight Arena since the start of the 2017-18 season.
Notable: The Ducks beat USC for the ninth straight time and 10th in the last 11 meetings … Oregon has had at least three players score in double figures in all eight games this season … UO did not trail at any point in the game for the seventh time in eight games … Click here for full postgame notes.
Up Next: Oregon will face its second top-15 opponent of the season when No. 11 UCLA visits Matthew Knight Arena on Sunday (1 PM PT, Pac-12 Network).