The No. 11 Oregon Ducks (12-4, 9-4) fell to the No. 10 Arizona Wildcats (12-2, 10-2) by a score of 79 to 59 at Matt Knight Arena.
EUGENE, OREGON - When these two teams last met on January 14th, the Wildcats forced 23 turnovers and beat the Ducks 57 to 41. In that contest they also held Oregon to 32.6 percent shooting and 3-of-11 from deep, and to that extent yesterday’s game followed roughly the same script.
The Oregon Ducks likely lost their last hope of adding another PAC-12 Regular Championship to their streak after a suffocating Wildcat defense provided them no easy looks. One thing was clear in this one: Arizona’s upperclassmen were eager to pay the Ducks back for the Ionescu years.
Senior Sam Thomas (14 points) and Junior Cate Reese (25 points) helped Arizona race out to an 8-0 lead. Taylor Mikesell got the Ducks on the board with an and-one, but a slew of Duck turnovers and missed shots led to the Wildcats building a 10-point lead with 2:06 remaining in the first.
Oregon showed a lot of resilience in the first half: a pair of fastbreak layups from Lydia Giomi ended the opening quarter and helped the Ducks cut the lead to two points, and the two teams traded buckets throughout the entire second quarter to end the half with a one-point Wildcat lead, 33-32.
However, the Ducks suffered a series of shooting droughts throughout the third and fourth quarter, and each time the Wildcats pounced on them. The most damning example of this is when the Ducks pulled to within four points at 47-43 with 4:13 remaining in the third, and the Wildcats responded by amassing a 13-point run to effectively seal the win.
The home team looked defeated throughout the entire fourth quarter. Oregon never managed to get within 14 points in the final frame, and the Ducks’ inability to hit a three-pointer (3-of-15) once again sank their offensive gameplan. While the Ducks did manage to commit just six turnovers and hold Aari McDonald to just 13 points, they continued to have trouble with their shooting accuracy, finishing 32.4 percent from the floor.
Nyara Sabally (17 points, 7-of-10) and Sedona Prince (10 points, 4-of-7) continued to lead the way for Oregon offensively, unfortunately, they were the only Ducks to score in double digits. Te-Hina PaoPao and Taylor Mikesell scored nine apiece, however they went 4-of-16 and 2-of-9, respectively.
The Wildcats shot 50.8 percent from the floor and hit nine of their 15 shots from downtown to win their first game in Eugene in the last ten years, after breaking a 10-game losing streak to the Ducks earlier in the season.
Let’s hope that Oregon’s next challenger—the winless Cal Golden Bears—won’t put together their own upset bid.
NEXT UP: California
Friday, 4 PM, PAC-12 Network - Eugene, Oregon