The Stanford Cardinal (16-8, 10-2) roared back from an 11-point halftime deficit to steal a share of 1st place in the PAC-12 standings from the Oregon Ducks (21-4,10-2). The 78-65 loss ties the worst Duck loss of the season (against Louisville 74-61) and gives the Cardinal their 24th victory out of the last 25 games against Oregon, also their 6th straight.
This PAC-12 heavyweight matchup was a tale of two halves. The first twenty minutes of the game felt like any other Oregon blowout. The Ducks were up by 11, Ruthy Hebard had 16 points and the Cardinal's top two scorers (Guard Brittany McPhee and Forward Alanna Smith) were held to a measly 9 points. All the momentum was in favor of the home team and their 5,126 fans.
Alas, the Ducks 14-game home win streak came to a shocking end after a disastrous second half in which they were outscored 46-24. Many things can be accredited to the Ducks first home-loss of the season. Hebard was kept in check and would not score another point after the half, the Ducks had a 14-15 assist to turnover ratio compared to Stanford's 17-6, but the most fatal flaw of the night was Oregon's inability to contain Brittany McPhee in the second half.
After only scoring two points in the first half, McPhee scored 31 of her career-high 33 points in the second. The Senior from Normandy Park, Washington somehow found a way to top her performance against Tennessee where she scored 27 points in 28 minutes by scoring 31 points in 18 minutes. McPhee was 14-22 and 3-5 from deep. Much like Kat Tudor of Oregon State, the Ducks had no one that was able to slow down McPhee's hot streak and in the end it resulted in a bitter loss for Kelly Graves and company.
McPhee's remarkable performance was aided by Alanna Smith and Kiana Williams, who scored 14 points each. Oregon's top three scorers were Sabrina Ionescu (who had a near triple-double with 22 Pts, 7 Reb, and 7 Ast), Ruthy Hebard (16 Pts) and Satou Sabally (14 Pts). Ionescu valiantly attempted to will her team to a victory in the fourth quarter by scoring 10 of the team's 11 last-quarter points, but on this day McPhee refused to be outshined. After Smith scored a jumper to start the fourth quarter, the red-hot McPhee took over and scored her team's final 19 points. And when the Ducks were in dire need of a scoring run, the well ran dry and they went scoreless for the games final five minutes.
Up next for the Ducks are the Washington Fuskies (7-16, 1-11) who just lost to the Wildcats in this year's "Worst of the PAC" contest. A victory in Seattle would be the perfect palate cleanser after a rough loss. This sports "journalist" will be there!
On the dreaded PAC-12 Network.