Ducks Return To Action With Win
EUGENE, Ore. — The Oregon women's basketball team led most of the afternoon and finished with its best quarter of the game to hand Long Beach State its first loss of the season Saturday, 68-59 in Matthew Knight Arena.
The Ducks (5-3) were playing for the first time in a week after taking final exams over the previous five days, and they were rusty at the start Saturday. But they were at their best in the fourth quarter, shooting 50 percent with a 13-8 advantage on the boards, pulling away for the win despite also shooting 50 percent on free-throw attempts.
"Second half we were a little bit better, especially on the boards, on the hustle plays," UO coach Kelly Graves said. "Still a few letdowns defensively, but they're a good team obviously — (came in) 7-0. …. Obviously we could have done a better job at the free-throw line late in the game, separated maybe a little earlier. But you've got to give it to those guys, they play hard."
Oregon played its fifth straight game without injured starters Nyara Sabally, Te-Hina Paopao and Endyia Rogers. Graves said none will be available when the Ducks return to action against McNeese State on Monday, but they're hopeful Rogers and possibly Sabally can play in games next week at Kansas State and Northwestern.
How It Happened: Long Beach State, which is among the most efficient defensive teams in the country while playing at one of the slowest paces, set the tone early. Beach's third three-pointer of the opening quarter gave them a 15-14 lead late in the period, before Sedona Prince sent Oregon into the quarter break into the lead on one of her patented turnaround jumpers.
The Ducks went nearly four minutes to open the second quarter without scoring, before Maddie Scherr hit a three-pointer to get them within 20-19. Ahlise Hurst followed with one of her five three-pointers in the game for a 22-22 tie, and Sydney Parrish scored consecutive UO baskets to put Oregon up 28-26. Scherr got to the basket just before the halftime buzzer, and the Ducks led 30-26.
Baskets by Kylee Watson, Prince and Hurst on three straight possessions early in the third put Oregon up 37-31. The Ducks then committed three turnovers as Beach rallied to lead 40-39. But Prince put back her own miss to regain the lead for Oregon and spark a 9-3 UO run to close out the quarter for a 48-43 lead. The run included a stepback three-pointer as the shot clock was expiring by Hurst.
"That's what important players do — they make those baskets in key moments," Graves said.
Chanaya Pinto, who drew two charges earlier in the game, scored Oregon's opening basket of the fourth quarter. Later, she rebounded a missed free throw to keep alive a possession that ended with Parrish hitting a three-pointer for a 56-47 lead. Beach had one last surge, closing within 57-54, but Pinto ended that run by getting to the hoop again, and the Ducks led by at least four the rest of the way.
Who Stood Out: Scherr continued to shoulder a huge load in the absence of Paopao and Rogers, handling the ball much of the night on her way to 12 points, seven rebounds and nine assists. Hurst led the Ducks in scoring with 19 points, and Pinto added eight points with five rebounds in 21 minutes.
Watson had nine points and seven rebounds, and she was Oregon's leader for the game in plus/minus at plus-18 for the game. She also blocked two shots, as did Prince, who finished with seven points and eight rebounds.
What It Means: The Ducks capped a rigorous academic week by winning their second straight game while short-handed. Beach's constantly changing defenses took a while to get a handle on, Graves said, but in the end Oregon found a way.
"Down the stretch we made the plays, especially defensively," Graves said. "That's what good teams gotta do."
Up Next: The Ducks host McNeese State on Monday at 6 p.m.