Ariel Thomas prepares for USC - Jake Tabor/ATQ
The Ducks inability at the free throw line comes back to bite them against the Women of Troy, falling 67-62 at home.
Coming off a loss against UCLA, the Ducks looked to rebound against USC's Women of Troy. The teams exchanged the lead back and forth in the first half as neither team was really able to gain control of the game. USC's Cassie Harberts and Ariya Crook both tallied 16 points to lead all scorers as the Trojans eventually pulled away and beat the Ducks 67-62. The Women of Troy focused on the Oregon inside threat, often doubling and frustrating Jillian Alleyne holding her to only 9 points. The Ducks shot an uncharacteristic 44% from the free throw line in the loss which was one of the main contributors to the loss. Up until this point in the season the Ducks were the leading team in the conference from the line. "Sometime stars just don't line up the right way," said Paul Westhead post game, "we won't shoot free throws like that ever again, but we did this game." For the Ducks, Ariel Thomas lead the team, filling the stat sheet with 15 points, 9 boards and 7 assists. Amanda Delgado also chipped in 15 points, including 3 shots from 3 point land, being Oregon's only real threat from long distance.
Oregon looked ready to play early on in the first half as they were capitalizing on USC's misses, boxing out and cutting down on second chance attempts. The Ducks got out to their largest lead of six about half way through the first, but the Women of Troy would not be denied. Crook hit two of her three pointers in the first half and did not let the Ducks get away, closing the gap and eventually taking the lead with just under four minutes remaining before the break. The Ducks would go cold in the final stretch, making only one more basket as USC took the lead into the half. "We've just got to make shots." Amanda Delgado commented after the game, "We went too long of stretches without making shots and we have to make those shots when they're needed."
The first few minutes of the second half belonged to USC as they built a 9 point lead early on in the second. "They definitely came out with a bigger sense of urgency than we did...right then from the start the momentum was going their way." Ariel Thomas said about the opening stretch. Much like USC in the first though, the Ducks would not roll over and die in the second, fighting their way back and tying the score on three separate occasions. Yet, each time the Ducks had a look to take the lead and perhaps control of the game, they were turned away either by self inflicted wounds or by USC's defense.
Oregon continues to find new ways to lose. Last game it was offensive rebounding. This game it was foul shooting. While they played well enough to win this game, they simply could not get the job done. They were also without the services of Devyn Galland who injured her elbow yesterday in practice. She was a game time decision and coach Westhead elected to go the safe route. The obvious statistic is free throw shooting. If the Ducks shoot their average (14-18 instead of 8-18) in this game, they win. It's as simple as that. Echoing the thoughts of Ariel Thomas, "Woulda, coulda, shoulda." All throughout this is the glaring statistic of 17 turnovers. While that was down from their previous match up, it still is far from good. That stat absolutely has to come down if this team is going to make the noise that coach Westhead expects from this team moving forward.