After their systematic destruction of the Stanford Cardinal over the weekend, the University of Connecticut Huskies brought their band of talented women's basketball players to Eugene and put on a clinic, mopping the artistic Matthew Knight Arena floor with Oregon.
"I just finished talking with the players," head coach Paul Westhead said after the game. "I did say to them that I was very proud of their performance. I usually don't do that when we lose."
Oregon was able to keep the game competitive early, matching Stanford's first half point total of 13 midway through the first half – a statistic easily attributed to the pace of Oregon's offense.
"I thought they were much more competitive than a lot of the teams we've already played this year," UCONN head coach Geno Auriemma said.
The Huskies – noticeably better than the Ducks at nearly every facet of the game – then took a 19-13 game and pushed it to a 54-24 halftime lead.
The second half was much of the same, as Oregon simply could not keep up with UCONN's athleticism. The Ducks finished the game with 27 turnovers and an abysmal 32.7% shooting percentage. Even their free throw shooting – best in the conference – was off on Sunday, as Oregon shot 69% from the line
"Connecticut is obliviously a very superlative team, so nothing happens easy," Westhead said.
"If there's a better team in America, someone's going to have to prove it."
Offensively, star freshman Jillian Alleyne held her own against the deep and athletic UCONN forwards, finishing with 18 points and 6 rebounds after coming into the game averaging 15 and 14 respectively.
"I'm learning about her, and I'm hoping this is a pattern," Westhead said. "She seems to want to play when the competition rises."
"She played like 'hey I belong out here.' She did a nice job."
Freshman guard Devyn Galland was the only other Oregon player in double figures with 13, a career high for the newcomer from Spokane.
"Devyn Galland wouldn't be afraid of a live husky growling," Westhead said. "She wouldn't know what to do with it – she'd say 'sit down, dog.'"
There was an unsettling moment in the second half when Alleyne hit her head chasing a loose ball, and remained down on the floor for a short period of time. Alleyne said after the game that she was kicked in the head by one of her teammates while on the floor, but she did return to the game in short order.
On the other bench, UCONN had six players in double-figures for the game, led by sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis with 19 points and senior Caroline Doty's 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Huskies led the Ducks in every major offensive and defensive category – though they did make one more free throw than the Huskies.
Oregon's next game is January 4 against the UCLA Bruins, and both Westhead and the players made reference to their belief that they'll surprise some people in Pac-12 Conference play
"Despite our record, I think we're going to be a team you have to deal with in the Pac-12," Westhead said. "I'm looking forward to it, and I think they are too."
Paul Westhead Post Game 12/31 (via Jake Tabor)
Jillian Alleyne and Devyn Galland 12/31 Press Conference (via Jake Tabor)