Ducks Grind Out Win In Return
EUGENE, Ore. — Playing for the first time in almost two weeks, the No. 12 Oregon women's basketball team looked rusty but avoided an upset at the hands of UC Davis, with the Ducks powering into the lead in the fourth quarter for a 63-57 victory at Matthew Knight Arena.
Originally scheduled to host Arizona State on Friday, the Ducks wouldn't have had enough available players to field a team for that game due to COVID-19 protocols, UO coach Kelly Graves said. Some players were only cleared to return to action earlier in the day Saturday.
"We had to gut that out," Graves said. "Give UC Davis credit — they're good; they're legit. Everybody knows that. … We were good in some spots, not so good in others. Overall, not great. But good enough to win a game."
How It Happened: Nyara Sabally took over in the fourth quarter to lead the Ducks from behind. She scored the first seven points of the period, lifting Oregon out of a 46-42 hole and into a 49-46 lead. Overall that run for the Ducks ended up being 11-0, capped by an Erin Boley three-pointer for a 53-46 lead. UC Davis fought back within 53-52, but Sabally ended that run with her second three-pointer in the period, and she bullied her way into the lane for a basket in the post to score on Oregon's next possession, helping the Ducks keep their cushion.
"Honestly, I don't know if we would have won the game without the lift we had from her," Boley said. "It was crucial."
Boley helped keep the Ducks in striking distance in the third quarter. Her three-pointer just after halftime put Oregon in front 32-30, and a jumper by Boley a few minutes later got the Ducks within 41-38 after Davis had surged in front by hitting three straight three-pointers. Boley rebounded a missed free throw and put it back just before the third quarter ended, keeping the UO women within 46-42.
Sabally and Sedona Prince scored on back-to-back trips to open the game, but the Aggies' first four made baskets were all three-pointers as they took an early lead. UC Davis led 16-12 after one quarter, and extended the lead to 25-19 early in the second. Boley fought for a rebound and put it back up to get Oregon going again, and hit a fadeaway jumper from the baseline on the next possession to make it 25-23. Kylee Watson scored just before halftime for a 25-25 tie.
"That's what she's supposed to do," Graves said of Boley's gritty play in the post. "She's a fifth-year senior, she's been on some really good basketball teams, and we have to be able to count on her."
Who Stood Out: Boley led the Ducks with 17 points and eight rebounds, and Sabally added 15 points with six rebounds. Sedona Prince scored 12 points, and that trio combined to block four shots and make four steals.
"In the back of my head I know I need to step up and I need to be a leader," Sabally said. "But it's still kind of hard for me to think that way. Today in the game it kind of clicked, and then it worked out. I'm definitely looking to be a leader more for this team."
What It Means: Graves said coaching colleagues from around the country were amazed that he was willing to schedule UC Davis, which was unbeaten in five games this season prior to Saturday. For much of the game, it did indeed look like a potential mistake, until the Ducks pulled it out in the fourth quarter.
"It was difficult; we only had one day of practice with the whole team," Boley said. "Also, at the same time, having been off for a week, we'd all been itching to play. It made it exciting. We were ready to get back out here. Even though it wasn't our best game, and it was rough at times, we came out and competed to the end. I think it was good for us to have that kind of competition, especially after having a week off."
Notable: Taylor Chavez and Maddie Scherr were not with the UO team due to COVID-19 protocols. Graves said he does not expect them to be available for the Ducks' next game on Monday ... Oregon improved to 56-3 in Matthew Knight Arena since the start of the 2017-18 season, including 7-1 at home so far in 2020-21 ... The Ducks won the first-ever meeting between Oregon and UC Davis in women's basketball ... UO held its opponent to fewer than 60 points for the 11th time in 15 games this season ... Oregon improved to 12-1 this season when winning the rebounding battle (39-37), and 10-1 when committing fewer turnovers (8) than its opponent (13).