Stifling Defense, Friendly Confines of Home Court Help Ducks Move to 2-0.
Oregon continued it’s non-conference shake-down cruise before a raucous crowd of 8761 in Matthew Knight Arena. Dixie State, a newly-minted member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) came into the game at 1-1, having beaten Life Pacific at home but losing last Friday at Portland State 80-52. Oregon destroyed Idaho State 91-34 last Tuesday. The Ducks had faced some injury questions in this early part of the season, with key players Te-Hina PaoPao, Nyara Sabally and Endiya Rogers all bitten by the injury bug. But Oregon, relying on a stifling defense, and a very productive interior offensive effort, ran away from the Trailblazers 84 - 35.
Questions about PaoPao’s availability were answered immediately as she started for Oregon and got in a good warm-up for about 2 and a half minutes. The Ducks, though, got off to a bit of a slow start on offense, missing their first two shots. However, Oregon’s defense - as it would throughout the game - stifled Dixie State, particularly with aggressive rotation, and challenges to Dixie State’s 3-point shooters. Oregon scored first, with Kylie Watson - who would finish with a career-high 16 points - hitting two early baskets. Oregon quickly stretched out to a double, leading 16 - 8 mid-way in the quarter. Phillipina Kyei was a force inside, getting free repeatedly for deep entry passes and scoring on 4 of 5 Oregon possessions to run the score to 24-8 Oregon. Kyei also blocked a shot, and Oregon’s defense forced 4 straight Dixie State turnovers to end the quarter with the Ducks in front 27 - 8. Oregon scored 18 points in the paint and forced 8 turnovers.
In the second quarter, Oregon’s offense went away from it’s solid inside performance. Although Sydney Parrish started off the quarter with a long 3 - boosting Oregon’s lead to 30 - 8 - the Ducks struggled a bit with their shooting touch in the quarter, both inside and out. Dixie State also managed to pick up their 3 point shooting a bit as the Duck defense continued to shut down the driving lanes available to the Trailblazers. Late in the quarter, Dixie State managed a bit of a run, and with 2:30 left in the half, Oregon’s lead was 38-19. Oregon closed out a surprisingly competitive quarter - which they won only 13 - 11 - and went into halftime ahead 40 - 19. Oregon shot 16 - 38 from the field but only 3 - 10 on 3 point shots. Dixie State was only 7 - 24 from the field and 5 - 17 from beyond the arc. Oregon forced 11 Dixie State turnovers in the half, and scored 17 points. Watson led Oregon with 10 points, while Kyei added 8.
Oregon returned to their effective inside offensive game in the third quarter, with Sedona Prince scoring off entry passes, and Ahlise Hurst, Sydney Parrish and Watson driving to score repeatedly at the basket. Dixie State continued to struggle to find an answer to Oregon’s suffocating defense, with Oregon’s size inside continually preventing penetration to the basket. Cold shooting on open 3s and Oregon’s relentless rotation to shooters on defense kept Dixie State from mounting any kind of charge. The Ducks outscored the Trailblazers 25 - 12 in the quarter, to open a 65 - 31 lead going into the final frame.
After a rough start for both teams on offense, the final quarter was more of the same, particularly from Oregon’s defense. Oregon missed about a half-dozen field goal attempts but also held Dixie State to one 3-point basket early. The Ducks took a 67 - 34 lead on a Kyei rebound and basket with about 7 minutes left in the game. Oregon then dialed up its defense (again!), with Watson making a steal and taking it coast-to-coast for a 73 - 34 Oregon lead. Pinto stole the next possession and the Ducks forced a 24-second clock violation. Inbounding after a non-shooting foul, Oregon found Prince for a lob and bucket. Another steal by Watson, with a quick outlet to Pinto and her pass to a streaking Hurst led to an easy Hurst layup and a 79 - 34 Oregon lead. Kyei grabbed her 10th rebound on a late Dixie State miss to record a double-double. Hurst closed out the scoring with a tough basket while being fouled and netted the free throw to give her 17 points on the night and make it 84 - 35 Oregon as the final score.
The Ducks boasted six players in double figures, led by Hurst with 17 and Watson’s career-high 16. Pinto added 9 rebounds and Maddie Scherr and Hurst each chipped in with 5 assists. Oregon shot 45.9 percent from the field and just 25 percent on 3-pointers. Oregon’s defense held Dixie State to 27.7 percent overall shooting, and 26.7 percent from beyond the 3-point line.
Oregon next travels for the high profile “Battle for Atlantis” tournament in the sunny Bahamas where they will first face Oklahoma on Saturday, November 20 at 2:00 pm. The game will be available on the Oregon Sports Network.