Season Ends In Sweet Sixteen
SAN ANTONIO — Oregon's season ended Sunday in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, a 60-42 loss to Louisville in which the Ducks suffered through their worst three-point shooting performance of the season, lost two starters to injury yet still rallied within six in the fourth quarter.
The UO women (15-9) lost starting guard Maddie Scherr to an ankle injury in the first quarter, and starting post Nyara Sabally to an ankle injury in the third quarter. Already playing without injured point guard Te-Hina Paopao, the Ducks struggled to create any rhythm offensively, finishing 2-of-18 from three-point range and shooting 32.1 percent overall.
"They were more aggressive," UO coach Kelly Graves said. "They got us on our heels early, and we just couldn't quite recover."
How It Happened: After making their first shot of the game, the Ducks then missed eight in a row, though Louisville was only able to take a 6-2 lead. Sabally ended the scoring drought, and Sedona Prince and Erin Boley followed with baskets as the end of the period neared. Oregon trailed just 10-8 after one quarter, but lost Scherr to an ankle injury late in the period.
Scherr's absence was felt acutely on the defensive end, after Louisville guard Dana Evans started 0-of-4 during the first quarter. With Scherr sidelined, Evans scored 11 of Louisville's first 13 points in the second quarter, on her way to 29 in the game. That run put the Ducks in a 25-10 hole, and they trailed 29-14 at halftime. Oregon was 0-of-9 from three-point range at that point, had committed eight turnovers that Louisville turned into 12 points, and allowed 10 offensive rebounds that led to 13 second-chance points.
The Ducks regrouped at halftime, and Boley finally connected on a three-pointer during a 9-0 run that got Oregon within 34-25. It was 41-33 late in the quarter when the Ducks got a stop and looked to close the gap even further on the last possession of the period. But Sabally was injured as Oregon secured the rebound, the Ducks committed a turnover and Louisville scored to get the lead back to double digits.
"It was a play or two that could have gotten us over the hump," Graves said. "And we never got over the hump."
Oregon's last gasp came early in the fourth. Prince hit a jumper to open the period, then added two free throws to get the Ducks within 43-37. Oregon forced a turnover but missed twice at the other end, then got another stop before again missing twice in one possession. Having dodged that bullet, Louisville put the game on ice with a 13-0 run to lead 56-37.
Who Stood Out: Sabally and Boley finished with 14 points each, and Prince scored 10. Boley also grabbed 11 doubles to record a double-double in her collegiate finale. Fellow senior Lydia Giomi also played her last game with the Ducks, playing seven minutes.
What It Means: The Ducks saw a season end in which they had to move on without a 2019-20 senior class that included three top-10 WNBA draft picks, and which was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I don't think a month ago many people thought we'd be here," Graves said. "We were the youngest team in the field, and I think we have a championship makeup with the players we have. We just weren't good enough in this tournament to continue on. But the chance we had to play three games in this tournament, and win a couple, will do us well in the future."