The 6-seed Oregon Women’s Basketball team will take on the 3-seed Georgia Lady Bulldogs in the Round of 32.
Here’s all you need to know about the upcoming matchup!
When: 3/24, Wednesday, 12:00 PM
Where: San Antonio, Texas - Alamodome
Why: Because it’s March Madness! Duh!
THE OREGON DUCKS (14-8, 10-7)
Oregon passed their first test thanks to an impressive defensive performance against the outmatched South Dakota Coyotes, 67 to 47. The Ducks also seemed to break out of their recent shooting slump by finishing the contest shooting 60.0 percent from the floor and 50.0 percent from three.
Without Te-Hina Paopao, Oregon will be even more reliant on its veterans to provide the deep shots that will serve to free up Nyara Sabally and Sedona Prince on the inside. Senior Erin Boley, junior Taylor Chavez, and junior Taylor Mikesell have an opportunity to lead this team to a deep run should one of them catch fire from three.
Or maybe another one of Oregon’s promising freshman guards — Maddie Scherr or Sydney Parrish — will end their debut season as a Duck with a memorable performance that makes the fans hopeful for a good tourney run and the 2021-22 season.
THE GEORGIA LADY BULLDOGS (21-6, 10-5)
Head Coach Joni Taylor was named the 2021 SEC Coach of the Year and is a finalist for the Werner Ladder Naismith Award after leading her Lady Bulldogs to the SEC Tournament title game where they lost 67 to 62 against South Carolina. After being picked to finish 9th in the preseason polls, Georgia accumulated a 20-6 regular season record and a 10-5 conference record before entering the NCAA Tournament as a 3-seed.
Though the Lady Bulldogs regularly shuffle through their roster (they’ve played 10 or more players in 21 of their 26 games), they have started the same five players in every game besides their most recent contest. Due to an ankle injury suffered by Gabby Connally (11.9 PPG) and a late start for Jenna Staiti (14.5 PPG, 8.1 RPG), coach Taylor was forced to tinker with the formula for the first time all season. The result was a first quarter in which Georgia hit just three shots and committed eight turnovers, however, once Staiti was able to join the game the Lady Bulldogs were able to pull away from the Dragons to earn the comfortable win.
Georgia has earned their highest seed since 2007 and are looking to add to their impressive history in the Big Dance; the Lady Bulldogs have been invited to 34 NCAA Tournaments, tied for second-most in D1 Women’s College basketball history.
What (to watch for): Oregon’s strength has been its defense this season, which managed to limit their first NCAA Tournament opponent to 26.2 percent from the floor. But the Lady Bulldogs are also a defensive-minded squad, and they entered the Big Dance holding their opponents to .376 percent from the floor and .285 percent from three-point range. Against some of their tougher opponents Oregon has shot around that mark, and if they can’t find a way to generate open shots then Georgia will be eager to roll out their gameplan and add to the Ducks’ season-long shooting slump.
Que Morrison is another one to watch out for; she’s the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year and has racked up 33 steals this season, which could be a problem for a Duck team that surrendered 23 turnovers to the Coyotes two days ago. The Georgia native is finally healthy and ready to take on whichever guard is giving the Lady Bulldogs the most trouble.
The one-two punch of Sabally and Prince will be taking on 6’4 senior Jenna Staiti and 6’3 redshirt junior Malury Bates (who stepped up big in the game against the Dragons while Staiti was unavailable), that should be a pretty entertaining battle that will likely decide the game.
It’s been a long time since I’ve predicted a loss for the Oregon Women’s Basketball team, but with the Ducks’ recent stretch of play I have a hard time seeing this offense pull away from the tenacious Lady Bulldog defense. I hope that Boley and Mikesell hurl triples all night and I’m forced to crawl back here and leave a comment that reads: I was dead wrong and I will never doubt the Ducks again.
But my gut tells me that we aren’t ready for Georgia this March.
Lady Bulldogs 71 - Ducks 63