In a game where both teams struggled to shoot the basketball and the pace slower than rush hour traffic on the Ferry St. Bridge, it seemed for awhile that the Oregon women – with all of two conference victories – would have a chance to pull a stunner against the 19th-ranked Colorado Buffaloes.
However, when a team turns the ball over 21 times and the other team nine, it's a near certainly they won't come out on top, and that's what happened Friday night as Colorado pulled away in the second half, prevailing 60-49 in front of a sparse Matthew Knight Arena crowd.
The first half saw a game where both teams may have well been trying to make baskets with a medicine ball. Through the first 13 minutes of the game, neither team was shooting better than 33% from the floor, and the Ducks had the same number of turnovers as points – 12.
Those miscues with the ball played a huge role in the Buffaloes eventually putting some distance between themselves and the Ducks, as Colorado scored 20 points off of turnovers to Oregon's five; the easy baskets aiding in their shooting 43% in the second half.
I thought we should have been able to score more," Westhead said. "We had some turnovers that we'd cut down on in the past, they came back to bite us tonight."
Despite all of the turnovers, Oregon was within one midway through the second half, when Colorado's Kyleesha Weston hit a three-pointer with 12:25 to go, stole the inbound pass, and Arielle Robinson hit a second three for the Buffaloes in a span of less than 20 seconds.
"I definitely think so, yeah," Oregon sophomore Liz Brenner said when asked if that sequence was a turning point in the game. "We had a couple turnovers in there which let them have back-to-back possessions, and they kind of pulled away from there."
Brenner had a solid game offensively for the Ducks, leading the team with 12 points to go along with six rebounds. Oregon's guards were setting her up with mid-range looks the entire night – and Brenner even hit a shot from three early in first half.
"We have been working on that for a number of weeks now," Westhead said of moving Brenner away from the basket. "It was really something we had planned to do in the Stanford game, and we just didn't take advantage of that opportunity. I think Liz Brenner is a good post player. I think she has the potential to be a better step-out player."
Aside from being unable to take care of the ball, the biggest issue for the Ducks on Friday was getting hammered on the offensive glass. Colorado was able to get second chance opportunities at will, grabbing 15 offensive rebounds on the night, nearly doubling Oregon's total.
The loss tonight coupled with Oregon State's victory over Utah locks the Ducks into a last place finish in the Pac-12 conference and puts Oregon one game away from finishing the regular season with only two conference wins. Since the program joined their first conference in 1977, they've never finished with less than three conference victories.
That standard gets put on the line Sunday afternoon against the Utah Utes.