Sharpshooting Ducks Down the Samford Bulldogs, 72-61

Steve Dykes

Propelled by a fast start and hard-charging finish, Oregon improves to 2-8 on the season.

Plagued at times by lackluster three-point shooting this season – including in the first half against Fresno State on Sunday – the Ducks shook free from their funk with a vengeance Sunday, shooting 7-13 from beyond the arc in the first half to stake their claim to a 71-62 victory over the Samford Bulldogs

"Just coming into the week, we knew it was big, some big wins for us that we were more than capable of getting," Head Coach Paul Westhead said after the game.

Freshman forward Jillian Alleyne had another outstanding game for the Ducks on Tuesday with 11 points and 19 rebounds, holding her spot atop the NCAA rebounds-per-game list.

As in Sunday's tilt with Fresno State, much of Alleyne's scoring came in the second half as the Ducks went to a big lineup against the smaller Bulldogs.

"Jill, you never know what she's doing but all of a sudden you look at the stat sheet and she's got double-doubles, 19 rebounds," Westhead said.

The first half was a game of runs, as the Ducks jumped out to a 20-6 lead backed by a 3-3 start from beyond the arc, followed by Samford's own three-fueled spurt that knotted the game at 22 apiece.

"We kind of knew that was coming," Westhead said. "We knew they were going to play ball control no matter how we defended...they were eventually going to shoot a three."

The Ducks would then close the half on a 7-0 run to take a 37-27 lead into the locker room – their first halftime lead of the season – and then never trailed the rest of the way.

Junior Danielle Love led Oregon in scoring on Tuesday with 17 points after not playing the second half against Fresno State due to not feeling well in the locker room, and guard Ariel Thomas added 15 points of her own.

"I was pleased with the play of Danielle Love, she really helps us offensively," Westhead said. "She's maturing into a consistent offensive player for us, and we need that."

Another bright spot for the Ducks was the continued emergence of Thomas, after she missed the early part of the season due to injury. Thomas scored 15 points for Oregon, and Westhead lauded her impact in the offense with and without the ball.

"She's getting the ball down quicker, therefore people like Jordan Loera and Danielle Love reap the benefit of that," Westhead said of Thomas.

The Ducks will head north on Friday to take on the Portland Pilots, before taking a week off for the holidays as they prepare to face off with the vaunted University of Connecticut Huskies.

It's possible that sophomore Liz Brenner joins the team before Friday, though Westhead said "There's nothing certain at this time," albeit after asking whether Chip Kelly could answer the question.

Brenner aside, the Ducks will look to complete what Westhead called "a big week" on Sunday with their third win in a row, and of the season.

"Baseball friend of mine said you win one game, you win one game," Westhead said. "You win two games, you win two games. You win three games, that's a win streak."

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