Of all the recent losses suffered by the Ducks at the hands of the Stanford Cardinal, this one was probably the most expected.
The fourth-ranked Cardinal – with only two losses on the season to #3 UCONN and #6 Cal – started the game at full throttle, jumping out to a 16-2 lead in the first four minutes and extended that lead to 23-6 in short order.
"There were about a half-dozen times, and that's about six too many, that we didn't get back and cover," head coach Paul Westhead said. "Our players adjusted to that and that problem kind of got away."
After a period where both teams couldn't buy a basket, Oregon went on a run to cut Stanford's lead to 10 late in the half behind seven straight points from junior guard Ariel Thomas. Thomas finished the half with 14 points in the half and 17 in the game.
"Ariel has been playing well, I would say the last four or five games," Westhead said." She almost single-handedly helped us win the game at Washington State."
The end of the half was also delayed by a lengthy video review in which the officials were trying to determine whether a Stanford player swung an elbow while fighting for a loose ball.
A technical was eventually assessed, making it the second one in as many possessions, as Westhead was given one just prior and had an animated dialogue with the referees for most of the night.
"Just doing my job, just doing my job," Westhead said of his arguing.
The second half started the same way the first half ended, with the Cardinal racing out of the gate on a 13-2 run, stretching their lead to 51-29 and ending any thoughts of an Oregon upset.
Led by Thomas and star freshman Jillian Alleyne, the Ducks continued to play hard against the overbearing talent of Stanford. Offensive efficiency was again an issue for the Ducks as they shot a paltry 28.4% from the field and turned the ball over 17 times.
"We're still our own worst enemies in some ways, because we're turning the ball over unnecessarily and we're not making shots," Westhead said.
For her part, Alleyne recorded her eighth double-double of the season with 13 points and 13 rebounds in her duel with Cardinal star Chiney Ogwumike, who finished with a double-double of her own.
"I think she's progressing very well, she's a player with a terrific upside and future, and this is a good learning game for her," Westhead said of Alleyne. "She did some very good things."
Going into tonight's game, Alleyne led the Pac-12 conference in rebounding – averaging 12.9 per game – and would be the first Duck to ever win a Pac-12 rebounding crown.
"It means a lot," Alleyne said. "As a freshman, it's unreal. You come into division one basketball and you don't expect to be having the accolades I have now."
The next game isn't any easier for Oregon, as the California Golden Bears are enjoying one of the best women's basketball seasons in school history and will come to Matthew Knight Arena on Sunday ranked sixth in the nation.
"We have issues, like we're not making shots, but our players will come ready to go," Westhead said. "I don't worry about that."
The game is at 1 P.M. on Sunday afternoon and can be watched on the Pac-12 website.