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Defense Gets Ducks Back On Track

Jan 22, 2021

#13 Oregon 58, WSU 50 | Postgame Notes: WSU | Updated Season Stats | Updated Conference Stats | Boxscore

EUGENE, Ore. — Kelly Graves expressed confidence earlier this week that his Ducks would play well Friday, as they attempted to bounce back from a disheartening loss at Arizona. The UO women weren't exactly firing on all cylinders when they hosted Washington State on Friday, but they got back to their winning ways with a 58-50 victory over the Cougars in Matthew Knight Arena.

The ghosts that haunted the Ducks in Tucson seemed to follow them home to Eugene based on the first quarter. But after shooting 2-of-13 in the opening period, Oregon was 21-of-46 the rest of the way, and the Ducks held WSU to 25.4 percent shooting to improve to 10-3 overall, 8-3 in Pac-12 play.

"We're going to find our moxie; we're going to get it together offensively," UO coach Kelly Graves said. "Right now it's not clicking. But as long as we get it done on the defensive end."

How It Happened: Down 14-5 after the first period, the Ducks fought back within three at halftime and then tied it at 38-38 on a Sydney Parrish three-pointer to close the third quarter. Angela Dugalic scored the first two baskets of the fourth and the Ducks never trailed the rest of the way. Te-Hina Paopao had a go-ahead bucket for a 46-44 lead, and the Ducks scored six straight to open up a late 54-46 lead, with Jaz Shelley getting to the basket during that stretch.

Oregon's early struggles weren't apparent from the outset, as Sedona Prince scored the first basket of the game. But the Ducks then missed their next nine shots, going scoreless for 8:02 as WSU put together a 12-0 run. Taylor Mikesell hit a three-pointer to end that run, but the Ducks trailed 14-5 after one period.

Defense got the Ducks going in the second. Dugalic rebounded a miss by WSU and passed to Paopao, who fed Prince for a fastbreak bucket that made it 14-9. Paopao had a steal on the next possession and finished at the other end herself to get Oregon within three. That remained the deficit at halftime, 24-21, but the Ducks had played with much better energy following the slow start.

"I wanted this win really, really badly; my team wanted it badly," Prince said. "It wasn't looking so good after the first quarter, so I was just like, I'm going to dive for every loose ball and do whatever I can to get us going."

The Cougars scored four times in five trips early in the third quarter to open the lead back up to 33-25. But Prince scored on Oregon's next two possessions, Nyara Sabally made it a 6-0 run to get the Ducks within two, and Parrish tied it up just before the quarter ended with a three-pointer. That shot ended a stretch of eight straight misses by Oregon from behind the arc.

Who Stood Out: Prince made 7-of-12 shots from the floor to finish with 14 points along with six rebounds. Mikesell added 11 points and Paopao had eight points with six rebounds and six assists. Dugalic had six points with seven rebounds, Erin Boley added six points with six rebounds and Sabally had five points, eight rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.

What It Means: After a scare in the opening quarter, the Ducks found some rhythm to methodically close the gap and then pull ahead of the Cougars. It was a much more mature performance than the loss at Arizona last week.

"It wasn't pretty early, but I thought we did a really good job," Graves said. "That second half, obviously much better. Those are important wins. I'm glad we went through that."

Notable: Prince started for the first time since Dec. 4. … Sabally went to the bench early in the fourth quarter due to an ankle injury but returned a few minutes later. … Freshman guard Maddie Scherr has been a limited practice participant this week due to an ankle injury and played only three minutes Friday. … Freshman post Kylee Watson is in concussion protocol after taking an elbow to the head in practice.

Up Next: The Ducks are scheduled to host Washington on Sunday (2 p.m., Pac-12 Network).