The No. 8 Oregon Women’s Basketball team (7-0, 5-0) avoided being upset on the road against the Washington State Cougars (3-1, 2-1), ultimately winning 69 to 65.
For the first time all season, the Ducks trailed at halftime, due in large part to 11 turnovers and six Cougar three-pointers. However, Nyara Sabally helped preserve Oregon’s 26-game winning streak (longest in the country) by scoring 11 points in the first half and finishing with her second career double-double, tallying 19 points on 9-of-17 shooting and a career-high 14 rebounds.
The Ducks raced out to a three-point lead after a Sabally free throw and jumper, however, most of the opening quarter was a back-and-forth affair. Washington State proved ferocious on defense early on and, outside of a Sydney Parrish triple with :48 on the clock, the Ducks failed to score in the last five minutes of the first frame. Meanwhile, Charlisse Leger-Walker and Ula Motuga scored a combined 10 points to build a 6-point lead going into the second.
The Ducks managed to outscore the Cougs in the remaining three quarters, yet still failed to reclaim the lead until Jaz Shelley drained a three-pointer with :57 seconds left in the third. Washington State led by as many as nine points in the game, but Shelley, Sabally and Erin Boley helped Oregon catch up to the home team. But the Cougars still had plenty of fight in them - made evident by Jessica Clarke’s late jumper that gave Wazzu the lead heading into the fourth.
Though it was probably hard to stomach for Duck fans watching while finishing their lunch at home, the close fourth-quarter battle was ultimately a positive thing for this young team, as it was the kind that sharpens a team’s late-game chemistry.
There were five lead changes in the final frame, but in the end clutch triples from Shelley and Boley gave Oregon the lead in the final 1:27 of play, and a pair of made free throws from freshman Maddie Scherr sealed the four-point victory.
Sabally (19 points) and Boley (18 points) led the way for Oregon offensively, and Jaz Shelley contributed good minutes coming off the bench by finishing with 11 points, which includes three three-pointers. Scherr also contributed on a couple of crucial rebounds and a steal.
Freshman starter Te-Hine Paopao had a rough outing, scoring her only two buckets in the second half, though it’s worth mentioning that one of those scores tied the game in the fourth. Taylor Chavez and Taylor Mikesell finished with just three points apiece, and superstar Sedona Prince was limited to just 12 minutes (to aid with her recovery after an ankle injury suffered against Colorado) and four points.
Oregon finished 47.4 percent from the floor on 27-of-57 shooting and hit 11 of their 18 shots from downtown. The Ducks finished with an uncharacteristic assist-to-turnover ratio of 13 to-16, a testament to Wazzu’s inspired defensive play. But ultimately it was the Duck D that once again saved the day, limiting the Cougars to 39.3 percent on 24-of-61 shooting.
The Oregon Women’s Basketball team is now set to take a well-deserved holiday break before reuniting to prep for the USC Trojans on New Year’s Day at Matt Knight Arena.
NEXT UP: USC
Friday, Jan 1, 11 AM