Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
A balanced scoring effort and clutch free-throw shooting end the Ducks' slide at eight games.
After watching a late lead disappear behind a barrage of Fresno State three-pointers, Much of Oregon's late momentum was gone, and with the Ducks down to their last shot, Head Coach Paul Westhead went back to the well one more time.
"We had one possession with 20 seconds to go, we decided to spread it out and let Ariel (Thomas) go." Westhead said "That was my way of saying 'we're putting the game on you."
The junior guard scored a season-high 13 points to go along with five rebounds and six assists, but her most important pass was indirect, as her final attempt caromed to freshman Jillian Alleyne who put it in to give the Ducks their first victory of the season.
"It's been a long time coming, Thomas said. "We finally got a win. Now we're trying to get better and build off of this. Now we can work on getting more wins and staying composed."
"I have little to say when we lose and I have even less to say when we win," Westhead said of the victory. "Players win games. Coaches lose games. And they got a win tonight."
Alleyne led the Ducks with 23 points on the afternoon, building on a seven-day stretch where she averaged 22 points and 14 rebounds.
She struggled early Sunday, picking up her third foul with over seven minutes left in the first half, but Westhead had faith that his star freshman would be able to stay on the floor.
"I'm the only human being in America who would do that," Westhead said of continuing to play Alleyne with three fouls.
"They might foul out, but they aren't going to win the game for you on the bench, I know that."
Oregon's offensive attack for much of the second half was focused on a two-person game between Alleyne and Thomas, and it paid huge dividends for the Ducks as the Bulldogs struggled to contain both the shot-making guard and aggressive forward.
"We made the decision at halftime that we were going to get her - get Jill - involved in pick-and-roll situations, Westhead said. "With the reappearance of Ariel Thomas, it becomes a better two-person game."
The Ducks also played the second half without forward Danielle Love - their most experienced player. Westhead called losing the senior mid-game "almost like déjà vu all over again," and admitted that it forced him to change his substitution patterns for the second half.
Westhead was also complimentary of point guard Jordan Loera as she continues to get more comfortable playing her third position of the season.
"I think she still needs a couple more games to get her starting legs - she's a tough feisty kid," Westhead said.
Oregon next takes the floor against the Samford Bulldogs on Tuesday and then again on Friday against the Portland Pilots. Westhead said that he told his players that there are bigger weeks coming, but that they have a big week ahead.
"Obviously, if you're trying to get 'win-win-win', you have to get 'win,'" Westhead said.