The No. 11 Oregon Ducks (8-2, 6-2) lost their second consecutive game when they traveled to Santa Cruz to take on the No. 1 Stanford Cardinal (10-0, 7-0), ultimately losing by a score of 70 to 63.
SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA - Oregon entered the matchup without star player Sedona Prince, who is still recovering from an ankle injury suffered against Colorado in early December, while Stanford was missing three players from their talented roster due to COVID-19 protocol. Still, the contest was a thrilling back-and-forth affair that nearly ended in an Oregon upset of the top team in the Nation.
The Duck defense came up big in the fourth quarter, limiting Stanford to just 10 points in the final frame and holding them to 0-for-8 shooting from the field in the final 8:18 of the game. Oregon’s full-court press aided a late-game rally that cut the Cardinal’s 17-point lead into a five-point lead in the final minute.
With the departures of Satou Sabally, Ruthy Hebard, and Sabrina Ionescu, this Ducks squad is searching for their next go-to scorer in crunch time. And against the No. 1 team in college basketball, freshman Sydney Parrish led the way by scoring a team-high 14 points, all of which came at crucial points in the contest: she gave the Ducks a 33-32 lead at the half with a deep three just before the buzzer, then scored eight unanswered points in the fourth quarter to drag her team to within single digits.
Taylor Mikesell and Erin Boley came up with clutch plays to cut the lead to five at the :57 mark in the fourth—the former made a layup and the latter stole the ball shortly after and finished with a jumper—however, neither had a particularly good game against a great Stanford defense. Mikesell finished with six points after going 3-for-12 and 0-for-3 from the three, while Boley was forced to sit out for much of the game by racking up four fouls, though she did finish with 10 points and five rebounds in 22 minutes of play.
Nyara Sabally ended her impressive day (10 points, 11 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist) on a sour note when she dragged her foot while transitioning down the court after a steal gave the Ducks possession in a two-score game. Kiana Williams hit her final four free throws to build some distance between Oregon and, outside of a layup from freshman Te-Hina Paopao, the Ducks weren’t able to rekindle their offensive fire.
Thanks to Parrish’s bucket, Oregon was the first team to lead Stanford at the half this season. One of the four Ducks to tally a double-digit score was Freshman Te-Hina Paopao, and she helped early on by scoring five of her 12 points in the first half.
Stanford’s Francesca Belibi scored the game’s opening bucket, but early on it was Oregon who looked like the dominant team, ending the first quarter with freshman Maddie Scherr’s only score of the game— a triple that gave the Ducks a 20-14 lead. But alas, that would prove to be tied for Oregon’s largest lead of the day, and strong play from Haley Jones (18 Pts, 6 Reb, 2 Ast) and Kiana Williams (14 Pts, 5 Reb, 1 Ast) ultimately sank the Ducks.
The Cardinal had a 17-point lead early in the fourth, but overall finished 43.3 percent from the floor and hit just two of their six attempts from deep. Stanford had 17 turnovers, however the Ducks only managed to score 11 points off of them.
The Ducks shot 39.4 percent (26-for-66) from the floor, and 7-for-19 from downtown. Oregon’s spectacular defense in the fourth quarter will become a benchmark for this team. After allowing 28 points in the third, the Duck defense flew to the ball like a starving flock to bread, allowing just a layup and a jumper from the floor to win the frame 16 to 10.
And speaking of benchmarks, this game marks another great performance from the bench, which tallied 25 points. It also marked the return of Taylor Chavez (6 Pts, 2 Ast), who was a welcome sight as the Ducks hope to snap their two-game losing streak when they travel to Berkeley this Sunday to take on the Golden Bears.
NEXT UP: @ CALIFORNIA
Sunday, 1:00 PM, PAC-12 NETWORK