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Oregon's 'Walking Bucket' Back Healthy, Happy

Jan 28, 2021

WBB Game Notes: Utah

A healthy Sedona Prince is a dangerous Sedona Prince.

And a dangerous Sedona Prince is a dangerous Oregon women's basketball team.

The Ducks got their sophomore post back from injury last week. Perhaps not coincidentally, the UO women got their season back on the right trajectory as well. After three losses in four games — all to teams ranked No. 11 or higher nationally — the Ducks swept WSU and Washington at home last week.

Prince, who started for the first time in more than a month against WSU, averaged 15 points, 6.5 rebounds and three blocks per game in the sweep. Her five blocks against UW were the most by a Duck in nearly three years, and her presence offensively helped ease the pressure on Oregon's three-point shooters, who have been in a rut.

"Having Sedona back, it makes life a lot easier," said freshman forward Angela Dugalic, who started alongside Prince against UW and had 12 points with eight rebounds. "She can see the court like no other. She's 6-7, can pass, can shoot, and obviously can post up in the middle."

Prince spent the last two years recovering from a leg injury, first while a freshman at Texas in 2018-19, then after transferring to Oregon last season. She seemed ready to go as this year began, scoring 17 points in the opener against Seattle.

But a week later, against Colorado, Prince suffered an ankle injury. She returned to play later in the game, but then sat out two days later against Utah.
"That ankle frustrated me," Prince said. "I was just pretty down at that point."

The Ducks had a game against Oregon State coming up, and Prince was pushing to be ready for that one. But not only was the ankle still bothering her, lingering pain in her leg was an issue as well. She was experiencing discomfort in her fibula, and muscle spasms.

Prince played against Oregon State, and again the next week against both UW and WSU. She combined for 16 points and six rebounds in those three games. Her leg didn't feel strong. She found herself limping at times.

"I got to the point where I wasn't playing basketball and thinking about basketball, I was playing basketball and thinking about my leg, and my pain," she said. "So it was affecting my confidence."

At her lowest moments, she said, "I had thoughts of, am I ever going to play the way I'm supposed to, and the way I know how?"

The UO women had some huge matchups ahead, against UCLA and Stanford over the next two weekends. But Prince shut it down on the court. Her focus turned to strengthening the leg in the weight room, and clearing her head mentally.

She played last week without the benefit of much practice time. But Prince was healthy. And a healthy Prince is a dangerous Prince.

"That makes a big difference," UO coach Kelly Graves said following the win over WSU, in which Prince returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Dec. 4 and scored 14 points. "We'll continue to find ways to use her more, but I thought she was great, no question about it."

Two days later against UW, Prince took it to another level. She hit a handful of jumpers from the elbow, rare range for a college women's player with her size.

"She's a walking bucket," UO senior post Lydia Giomi said after that game. "It's fun to be her teammate."

Graves said he'd like to see Prince utilize her size even more by getting deep in the post. That will not only open up more room for Prince's midrange game, but it will help Oregon's three-point shooters, who have been slumping the last three weeks.

But given all Prince had gone through herself the previous few weeks, Graves hadn't lost sight of the big picture, either.

"The more she can hurt 'em at the block, the more that'll open her up at the high post as well," he said Sunday after the UW game. "But she had a hell of a game tonight. She had a nice weekend."