Ducks Drive To Fifth Straight Win
EUGENE, Ore. — The Oregon women's basketball team held the Pac-12's most prolific offense to its third-lowest point total of the season Wednesday, and the Ducks caught fire offensively after halftime to beat Utah, 70-66, in Matthew Knight Arena.
At halftime, the 19th-ranked Ducks (12-5, 4-1 Pac-12) trailed 29-28; they were on pace to hold the Utes well below their scoring average of 82.3 points per game, but they hadn't taken advantage of it due to 1-of-14 three-point shooting. But the Ducks shot 62.5 percent in the second half, including 4-of-9 from three-point range to win a game that was tied 60-60 with 2:34 to play.
"Good win by us; we're showing our mettle in close games," UO coach Kelly Graves said. "I'm really proud of us. …. Down the stretch we made some winning plays, which it what you gotta do."
How It Happened: Baskets by Nyara Sabally and Endyia Rogers gave Oregon a 53-46 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Utah rallied back to tie it at 60-60. Sabally made a free throw to give Oregon the lead, and Maddie Scherr followed with a steal to regain possession for the Ducks. Out of a timeout, the Ducks moved the ball from Scherr to Rogers to Sydney Parrish, who made her third three-pointer of the day for a 64-60 lead.
Wednesday's game was played on the two-year anniversary of the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who was an advocate for women's basketball and met with the UO women's team multiple times. The Ducks discussed Bryant's passing and his impact on the sport prior to Wednesday's game, and in particular a message he often delivered, Parrish said: "trust your teammates."
Oregon's lead was again four moments later, at 66-62, when Sabally blocked a shot and Rogers followed with two free throws. Utah closed within 68-66, but Te-Hina Paopao made 1-of-2 free throws and Scherr got her hands on the rebound for a held ball call, with the alternating possession going to the Ducks. That extra possession resulted in Rogers adding another free throw, and Oregon held on to win 70-66.
After scoring just two points in the first half, Sabally came out with a different attitude for the second. She scored three times during a 12-2 run by Oregon to open the third quarter, and Utah never led again after being up 29-28 at halftime. That run also included three-pointers by Scherr and Parrish, and Ahlise Hurst made another late in the quarter for a 47-41 lead as the Ducks' wings benefited from all the attention the Utes were paying to Sabally and the UO point guards.
"That just gives us the opportunity for that extra pass and that open shot," Parrish said. "We knew it would be there, so we kept going to that."
Perhaps not unexpectedly given the 11 a.m. start, the teams took a couple minutes after the opening tip to find any rhythm. Parrish made Oregon's first basket, a three-pointer that sparked an 11-3 run but was also the Ducks' only made three of the first half. A 7-0 run gave Utah the lead at 12-11, before the Ducks scored the final five points of the first quarter for an 18-13 lead.
Two baskets by Paopao gave the UO women a 22-15 advantage early in the second. Utah answered that with a 9-0 run, and though Parrish scored late in the quarter for a 28-27 lead, Utah closed the period with two free throws to lead at halftime.
Who Stood Out: Sabally ended up 7-of-8 from the field for 15 points, and she also blocked two shots. Rogers scored 14 points and Parrish and Paopao added 13 apiece, with Paoapo contributing five assists and five rebounds as well. As usual Scherr did a little of everything with four steals, three rebounds, two assists and a three-pointer.
Utah came into the game leading the Pac-12 in scoring offense thanks in part to three-point shooting — the Utes were averaging 10.4 made three-pointers a game, on .368 shooting. The Ducks limited that just enough, holding Utah to eight made threes on .348 shooting.
What It Means: Wednesday's game was the first of three home games this week for the Ducks, who have now won five straight as they stabilize themselves following an opening few weeks to the season when they struggled due to injuries.
"This is a big homestand for us," Graves said. "This is where we really want to put ourselves in a great position to be chasing Stanford for a championship. We've gotta take care of business at home."
Up Next: The Ducks host UCLA on Friday (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network).