Big Finish Makes It Eight Straight
EUGENE, Ore. — The No. 19 Oregon women are now unbeaten in nearly a month after beating Arizona State on Tuesday afternoon, 72-58, before 6,950 fans in Matthew Knight Arena.
Playing a makeup game that was originally scheduled for Jan. 13, the Ducks used a 17-0 run in the first quarter to take the lead for good. Arizona State was able to assert its scrappy style at various moments throughout the game, but ultimately Oregon's new "Big Three" of Nyara Sabally, Te-Hina Paopao and Endyia Rogers scored 19 of the Ducks' 23 points in the fourth quarter to clinch the win.
With their eighth straight win, the Ducks improved to 14-5 overall and 7-1 in the Pac-12, behind only conference-leading Stanford as February gets rolling.
"We're starting to execute," said UO coach Kelly Graves, whose team endured an injury ravaged December before finding its rhythm recently. "You can tell our team is playing well together; they've had some time together and they're playing well together."
How It Happened: Arizona State started hot, scoring on three straight possessions. Sabally got the Ducks on the board with two free throws and Paopao followed with a three-pointer to kick off what ended up being a 17-0 run — with Sabally scoring 11 points and Paopao the other six. After ASU ended the run and a scoreless streak of 4:25 with a basket, Sedona Prince hit Oregon's seventh straight field-goal attempt for a 19-9 lead. Ahlise Hurst ended the quarter with a three-pointer as Oregon took a 22-13 lead.
Paopao probed ASU's defense and got to the hoop for a basket early in the second, putting Oregon up 26-17. The score was stuck there for the next three minutes, as the Sun Devils established their preferred tone with physical play that resulted in turnovers at both ends. But Oregon fought through it to lead 33-30 at halftime, and ultimately never surrendered the lead despite a couple of similar stretches after halftime.
"This was everyone's first time playing Arizona State, except for Endyia (when Rogers played for USC)," Paopao said. "To be able to get that glimpse of it at the beginning of the game, that this is how it's gonna be …. we just came together — 'we gotta get stops, we gotta take care of the ball, no more turnovers.' Because this team is really scrappy. We came out with the 'dub' and it was a hard-fought battle."
After not making a basket in the first half, Rogers hit a pull-up jumper on her first attempt of the second half during a 9-0 run to a 42-32 lead. Hurst hit another three for a 49-40 advantage, but again ASU hounded the Ducks into some turnovers late in the third quarter, and the Sun Devils closed within 49-46 entering the fourth.
That's when the "Big Three" really took over. Sabally scored seven points in the fourth, and Paopao and Rogers had six apiece. Paopao added a couple of key offensive rebounds that set up a three-pointer by Rogers and two free throws from Kylee Watson, and Maddie Scherr capped a typically well-rounded day with the final field goal of the afternoon to make it 72-58. Oregon was 7-of-12 from the field in the fourth, while ASU was just 3-of-11.
"I'm really proud of our team," Graves said. "I thought we played well. We certainly played well down the stretch and in that fourth quarter. Defensively, we're finding a way to get it done late in games."
Who Stood Out: Sabally finished with 22 points and six rebounds, her fourth 20-point effort in her last six games. Paopao added 19 points with six rebounds and six assists, and Rogers scored 10 points, all in the second half.
"Let's face it, Nyara, she's coming of age right before our eyes," Graves said. "She's really turning into a dominant force out there. …
"I think Te-Hina and Nyara were both really on point tonight. They were both really tremendous. We ran a lot of specials with just those two late in the game."
Sydney Parrish added seven points, including a three-pointer during the 9-0 run early in the third quarter. Scherr finished with five assists, three rebounds and three steals, and limited ASU leading scorer Jade Loville to eight points, half her season average.
What It Means: The Ducks took their lumps due to injuries early in the season, but they seem to be rounding into form at the right time to be a major factor in the race for the Pac-12 title.
"We're still putting the pieces together," Paopao said. "But seeing everybody willing to accept their roles and do what they do, it's a joy to see."
Up Next: The Ducks play at Arizona on Friday (7 p.m., Pac-12 Network).