Ducks Open NCAA Tournament With Clean Slate
SAN ANTONIO - The Oregon women's basketball team earned a No. 6 seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament and will open play in San Antonio against No. 11 seed South Dakota on Monday night in the Alamodome.
With the 2020 NCAA Tournament canceled due to the pandemic, it will have been 717 days since the Ducks' last NCAA Tournament game (2019 Final Four). "I'm really proud of this group," head coach Kelly Graves said following Monday's selection show. "What a crazy ride it's been. But they earned this, and now we've got to go down and do some work in San Antonio."
Oregon figures to be without all-Pac-12 point guard Te-Hina Paopao because of injury as the tournament opens, Graves said, but there's been a chance to mentally reset since a loss in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals. That defeat, at the hands of rival Oregon State, was the fifth in six games for Oregon. In the nearly two weeks since, the Ducks took a couple days off to clear their heads, then returned to practice reinvigorated.
"Right after the tournament, we obviously went home a little defeated," Nyara Sabally said. "We decided to step away from it for a couple of days, and I think everyone needed that. But we knew when we got back in the gym, it was go time."
— Oregon Women's Basketball (@OregonWBB) March 17, 2021
Matchup: (6) Oregon (13-8) vs. (11) South Dakota (19-5)
Date: Monday, March 22, 2021
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Opening Tip: 7:00 p.m. PT
PxP: Courtney Lyle | Analyst: Carolyn Peck
Radio: Oregon Sports Network
Eugene: KUGN 590 AM | Portland: KDZR 1640 AM
PXP: Terry Jonz | Analyst: Bev Smith
Ducks In The NCAA Tournament
» 16th NCAA Tournament appearance and fourth straight, not including the canceled 2020 tournament.
» 15-15 all-time, including 10-3 in three trips under Graves.
» 8-7 all-time in the first round, including four straight wins.
» Sixth time as a No. 6 seed (2-5 all-time), and first since 2000.
» 3-2 all-time vs. No. 11 seeds and 8-2 vs. double-digit seeds.
Numbers to Know
1.35 - Oregon leads the Pac-12 and ranks No. 10 in the NCAA this season with a 1.35 assist-to-turnover ratio.
12 - In 24 seasons as a Division I head coach, Kelly Graves has now led his team to 12 total NCAA Tournament appearances.
15 - The Ducks are 15-15 all-time in 15 previous NCAA Tournament appearances, including 10-3 in three trips under Kelly Graves.
16 - All-Pac-12 selection Nyara Sabally leads Oregon this season with 16 double-figure scoring games and 4 double-doubles.
20 - Erin Boley enters her final NCAA Tournament just 20 points away from reaching 1,000 in her Oregon career (1,219 overall).
24 - Junior Taylor Mikesell led Oregon with 24 points vs. OSU in the Pac-12 Tournament while surpassing 1,000 career points.
Quick Hits: #21 Erin Boley
» Oregon Career (91 GP, 91 GS): 10.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 0.9 APG, .457 FG% (362-792), .428 3PT% (211-493), .849 FT% (45-53).
» Collegiate Career (128 GP, 101 GS): 9.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 0.8 APG, .450 FG% (446-991), .422 3PT% (258-612), .863 FT% (69-80).
» 1,219 total career points, 980 as a Duck; 20 points away from becoming the 33rd 1,000-point scorer in Oregon history.
» Currently tied with Maite Cazorla (2015-19) for No. 4 all-time at Oregon with 211 made three-pointers as a Duck.
» .428 3-point shooting percentage as a Duck would currently rank fourth all-time; UO record is .457 (Lexi Bando).
Series History - Oregon vs. South Dakota
All-Time Series: South Dakota leads, 1-0
Current Streak: South Dakota W1
Last Meeting: South Dakota won, 88-54 (3/30/16)
Scouting The Coyotes
Oregon's first-round matchup with South Dakota will be just the second-ever meeting between the two teams. The Ducks traveled to Vermillion, S.D., for the semifinals of the 2016 WNIT, falling 88-54 to end the first postseason run under Kelly Graves before Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard and company arrived and dramatically altered the direction of the program. The Coyotes scorched the Ducks from beyond the arc in that game, going a sizzling 15-of-21 from three-point range and shooting 54.0 percent from the floor. This season's South Dakota team isn't quite as lethal from deep (.337), though guard Chloe Lamb is a terrific 60-of-135 (.444) from three-point range with 16.2 PPG to lead the shooting attack. Forward Hannah Sjerven is nearly averaging a double-double with 17.1 PPG and 9.7 RPG to pace the Coyotes in both categories, and Liv Korngable gives them a third double-figure scorer with 14.7 PPG. South Dakota does a terrific job of taking care of the basketball, ranking fifth in the nation with just 11.2 turnovers per game, and the Coyotes are 18th in the NCAA with a 1.26 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Looking Around The Alamo Region
The Ducks head to San Antonio as the No. 6 seed in the Alamo Region of the bracket, with No. 11 seed South Dakota on tap in the first round. The Alamo Region is headlined by No. 1 seed Stanford - the Pac-12 regular-season and tournament champions - with Louisville as the No. 2 seed. If the Ducks can get past South Dakota in the round of 64, they would face either No. 3 seed Georgia or No. 14 seed Drexel on Wednesday. There is another familiar team for the Ducks in the region along with Stanford in No. 12 seed UC Davis, which Oregon defeated 63-57 at home on Feb. 6.
Sabally Well Worth The Wait
It's been a long two-plus years for Nyara Sabally - who lost the opportunity to play with her sister Satou Sabally after suffering knee injuries in each of her first two seasons as a Duck - but the 6-foot-5 forward was well worth the wait. Sabally was named an all-Pac-12 selection by the league's coaches, solidifying her standing as one of the top 15 players in the conference in her first healthy season since arriving in Eugene. The redshirt sophomore goes into her first NCAA Tournament while healthy having scored in double figures in seven straight games and 14 of her last 15 after putting up 16 points in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals vs. Oregon State. Sabally posted her team-leading fourth double-double of the season in the regular-season finale vs. the Beavers with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
This season, Nyara Sabally...
» Is one of only two players in the Pac-12 (Mya Hollingshed, CU) to lead their team in PPG (12.6), RPG (7.3), FGs (101) and blocks (22).
» Ranks tied for the Pac-12 lead with 2.8 offensive rebounds per game, No. 4 in field goal percentage (53.4%) and No. 5 in RPG.
» Leads Oregon with 16 double-figure scoring games - 14 in Pac-12 play - and four double-doubles.
» Tied for the seventh-best individual shooting performance in UO single-game history on Dec. 4 vs. Colorado (9-of-9 FG).
» Has showed off her shooting range at 6-foot-5, going 7-of-13 (.538) so far from three-point range (3-of-3 at USC on Feb. 21).
Mikesell Surpasses 1,000 Points In Las Vegas
Junior Taylor Mikesell impressed in her first career Pac-12 Tournament game on March 4 vs. Oregon State, leading the Ducks with 24 points while setting a new career-high with 10 made field goals. The transfer from Maryland reached a career milestone with the performance, surpassing 1,000 points for her collegiate career to join Erin Boley as active Ducks in the 1K club. Mikesell joins Boley and senior Lydia Giomi as the only players on Oregon's roster with NCAA Tournament roster as the team prepares to open play in San Antonio. Mikesell reached the second round of the Big Dance with Maryland in 2019 as a freshman, leading the Terrapins with 16 points in a first-round win over Radford before putting up 14 points while playing all 40 minutes in an 85-80 loss to UCLA in the second round.
Prince Could Be Key to Postseason Run
After missing the last two seasons - first due to a knee injury and then NCAA transfer rules - and then dealing with an ankle injury that forced her to miss five games this season, redshirt sophomore Sedona Prince appears to finally be back at full strength for the Ducks and could be a key to Oregon making a deep run in San Antonio. The 6-foot-7 center returned to the starting lineup on Jan. 22-24 for the first time since Dec. 4, leading the Ducks to a weekend and season sweep of the Washington schools. Prince scored in double figures in four straight games from Jan. 22 to Feb. 8, including 16 points and seven rebounds on Jan. 24 vs. UW. Prince also blocked five shots vs. the Huskies, the most by a Duck since March 2018 and second-most ever by an Oregon player inside Matthew Knight Arena. Prince (9.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, .532 FG%, 20 Blk) finished the regular season in terrific fashion, scoring a career-high 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting off the bench on Feb. 28 vs. Oregon State before finishing with eight points against the Beavers in the Pac-12 Tournament. Prince became the fifth different Duck this season to surpass 20 points in a game, and she enters her first NCAA Tournament with eight total double-figure scoring performances this season.
Oregon has done a tremendous job of sharing and being smart with the basketball since Kelly Graves arrived, leading the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio each of the last two seasons. The new-look Ducks have kept this trend going, dishing out 22 assists with just three turnovers in the season opener vs. Seattle and a season-high 26 assists on 42 field goals against just five turnovers in the Jan. 10 win at California. UO enters the NCAA Tournament leading the Pac-12 and ranking No. 10 in the nation with a 1.35 team assist-to-turnover ratio, while also ranking No. 1 in the league and No. 12 in the NCAA with just 11.8 turnovers per game. Freshman point guard Te-Hina Paopao - who likely won't play in San Antonio due to injury - leads the Pac-12 and all NCAA freshmen with a solid 2.40 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Depth On Full Display
Despite having to replace four starters - including three top-10 WNBA Draft picks - Kelly Graves boasts one of the deepest teams in the country this season. Oregon has had 11 different players combine for 71 total double-figure scoring performances through 21 games, and seven different Ducks have led or tied for the team lead in scoring at least once. At least 10 different players have scored in nine different games, including seven straight to open the season, and Nyara Sabally (12.6), Erin Boley (10.3) and Te-Hina Paopao (10.2) are all averaging double figures with seven more Ducks averaging at least 3.0 PPG. Oregon has had 11 different starting-lineup combinations in 21 games, and the Ducks have racked up a whopping 551 bench points (26.2 per game). Oregon's depth becomes even more important with Paopao's status in question as the NCAA Tournament begins in San Antonio.