Ducks Bounce Back With Big Win At USC
LOS ANGELES — The Oregon women's basketball team earned a huge bounce-back win in its final road game of the regular season on Sunday afternoon at the Galen Center, using a balanced offensive attack and stifling defense to defeat USC, 72-48.
The No. 13 Ducks (13-6, 10-6 Pac-12) matched their season-high with 12 made three-pointers and held their opponent to fewer than 50 points for the fourth time this season to snap a three-game losing streak and head into next Sunday's regular-season finale on a high note.
Disappointed with their performance and effort in Friday's loss at No. 8 UCLA, the Ducks held a live scrimmage in practice on Saturday – something head coach Kelly Graves said he has never done on a day between road games – to try and up the intensity.
"They were challenged yesterday," said Graves. "We had a great practice, very high-spirited. We did a lot live (scrimmaging) in practice and I think it paid off today. This was a good win and I think a good character win.
"I think it shows that this team has some character and the kind of mental make-up that is necessary to continue to compete down the stretch. They were challenged – believe me – in film sessions and other places, and they answered."
— Oregon Women's Basketball (@OregonWBB) February 22, 2021
How It Happened: The Ducks came out energized from the opening tip on Sunday, as Taylor Chavez, Erin Boley and Taylor Mikesell each hit their first three attempts from three-point range to give Oregon a 9-3 lead. USC fought back to pull even, 14-14, before a 6-0 UO run helped the Ducks take a 21-16 advantage into the second quarter.
"I thought the first five minutes really set the tone for the rest of the game," said Graves.
Oregon stayed hot from three-point range in the second quarter, with Nyara Sabally and Sydney Parrish each connecting during an 8-0 run that put the Ducks up 32-20 and forced USC into a timeout. Parrish got a steal-and-score right out of the timeout, and Boley followed with five straight points to give UO a 39-25 lead at halftime. UO held USC to just nine points in the period.
The Ducks shot an even 50.0 percent (15-of-30) from the floor and 53.3 percent (8-of-15) from three-point range in the first half, with Boley, Parrish and Sabally all making two apiece.
Oregon didn't see as many shots fall in the third quarter, going 2-of-9 from deep, but the Ducks responded after USC got the lead down to 12 with seven straight points to take a 19-point lead into the final 10 minutes.
UO found its rhythm again in the fourth quarter, making 6-of-10 shots from the floor to push the final margin above 20 points. Redshirt sophomore Sedona Prince caught fire in the final period, scoring nine points on 4-of-4 shooting.
Who Stood Out: Parrish enjoyed one of the best games of her young career, as the freshman led Oregon with 17 points while going 4-of-6 from three-point range and adding a career-high four steals. Boley continued her history of playing well against USC with 13 points and eight rebounds, and Sabally and Prince each finished with 11 points. Freshman Te-Hina Paopao was solid in directing the offense, dishing out a career-high eight assists against just two turnovers while also grabbing seven rebounds.
What It Means: The Ducks were searching for a spark after taking three straight losses, and the intensity and effort from Saturday's practice translated onto the court on Sunday. Graves praised players like Chavez and Sabally, among others, for stepping up as leaders, a welcome sight for a young team looking to build momentum with postseason right around the corner.
"The teams were completely even, and we just battled," Parrish said of Saturday's scrimmage. "Everyone was talking, everyone was getting on loose balls. We really didn't care if somebody dove and got hurt. We were just going after each other, and it really helped. At the end it was like tied. We battled. It was really, really good. We haven't seen each other play like that for a really long time. We knew we had it in us and we brought it to the game.
Notable: UO extended its winning streak over USC to 10 straight games … The Ducks held their opponent to fewer than 50 points for the fourth time this season, and less than 60 points for the 12th time … Sabally notched her team-leading 14th double-figure scoring performance with Boley (10th), Prince (7th) and Parrish (5th) also reaching double digits … Chavez returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Jan. 24, hitting a three-pointer to open the scoring.
Up Next: Oregon is scheduled to close the regular season against Oregon State next Sunday, February 28, at home against Oregon State (3 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Network).