Signs Of Progress, Though In Defeat
EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon rallied back from a double-digit deficit and led in the final two minutes Monday against No. 6 Stanford, but the Cardinal scored the final five points of the game to beat the No. 13 Ducks in Matthew Knight Arena, 63-61.
The Ducks took a 56-51 lead with 3:40 to play on a three-pointer by Jaz Shelley, one of six for Oregon in the second half. A free throw by Taylor Mikesell put the Ducks up 61-58 with 1:46 left, but Stanford senior Kiana Williams tied it with a three-pointer and freshman post Cameron Brink hit go-ahead free throws with 28 seconds left. Oregon had two chances to win it out of timeouts in the remaining moments but couldn't convert.
"We played hard enough and well enough to win the game, and we didn't," UO coach Kelly Graves said. "So I know we're disappointed. But at the same time, I'm proud of the team for the fight we showed. We played hard for four quarters; it just didn't go our way."
How It Happened: The Ducks (12-5, 9-5 Pac-12) trailed by as many as 15 in the first half, after a three-pointer by Williams gave Stanford a 33-18 lead with 3:11 before halftime. At that point Brink and the other Cardinal bigs were outscoring Oregon 18-2 in the post, but the Ducks finished the half on an 8-0 run, all in the post, including two scoop shots by Mikesell.
Stanford led 39-28 just after halftime when UO freshman Sydney Parrish, who made her first career start Monday, scored at the basket and followed with a three-pointer to get the Ducks within six. Stanford scored to go up 41-33 with 6:31 left in the quarter, but the Ducks held the Cardinal to just one field goal the rest of the period while forcing eight turnovers to close the gap and get within 46-41.
"We really focused on winning the third quarter, and we did," Graves said. "The game at Stanford and the two against Arizona we lost the third quarter. Those were key quarters, so we really focused on putting four quarters together tonight, and talked about, let's win the third quarter. And we did. We're making progress."
After a Stanford free throw to open the fourth, Oregon's three-point shooters showed signs of breaking out of a collective slump. Mikesell and Erin Boley connected on back-to-back possessions to tie it, 47-47, and Nyara Sabally gave the Ducks their first lead of the night with two free throws for a 51-49 advantage. Boley made a turnaround jumper for a 53-51 lead and Shelley followed with a three-pointer that pushed the lead to five. But Stanford scored on its next four possessions to tie it, and the Ducks couldn't capitalize on two late chances to hit a game-winner, with Mikesell missing a three-pointer and Te-Hina Paopao losing her footing for a turnover on Oregon's final possession.
"Sedona (Prince) set a great screen, I got a good look — definitely gotta knock that down," Mikesell said of her miss with 19 seconds left. "It felt great. Next time."
Who Stood Out: Paopao had an outstanding overall game with 11 points on 3-of-5 three-point shooting, nine rebounds and four assists. She scored 11 of her points in the first half, about the only consistent producer on offense while Oregon was falling into that 33-18 hole.
Mikesell led the Ducks with 13 points and Sabally added 12 points with seven rebounds. Shelley hit two three-pointers, her first game with multiple made threes since New Year's Day.
What It Means: On one hand, the Ducks seem to be taking their lumps recently, having lost five of their last nine games. On the other hand, two of those losses were to the No. 6 Cardinal, two were to No. 10 Arizona and the other was to No. 8 UCLA.
"We're right there," Graves said. "Stanford is a legitimate championship game contender. They really are. We're used to playing that type of team. So when we get to the NCAA Tournament, we'll have seen everything, and played against the best."
Notable: Freshman guard Maddie Scherr played three minutes after missing the previous two games while in COVID-19 protocols. … Junior guard Taylor Chavez also was on hand after also missing two games due to the protocols, but she was on the bench in street clothes. … During halftime of the ESPN telecast Monday night, the NCAA Tournament selection committee released its first top-16 ranking of the season. Oregon was No. 11 overall, which would translate into a No. 3 seed in an NCAA Tournament region. Stanford was No. 3 overall, Arizona was No. 8 and UCLA was No. 9.
Up Next: The Ducks play at UCLA on Friday (5 p.m., Pac-12 Network).