Oregon women’s basketball (4-1) is something of a puzzle in this early season. They have flashes of solid game play intersected with the obvious growing pains of a very young team. It seems apparent that they’re still adjusting to the season-ending loss of PG Peyton Scott, and these Ducks are not quite there yet. It’s natural that we would see uneven play as this team settles in, and yet this past week only served to induce apprehension as to what the actual heck the Ducks have fielded on the court. The puzzle continues.
Oregon defeated Grand Canyon on the road, then suffered a horrible defeat at home against Santa Clara, but bounced back in Reno against Nevada.
Last Thursday, the Ducks traveled to Phoenix for their first road game of the season, against the Grand Canyon Antelopes.
Although the Ducks led at the end of each quarter, they didn’t shoot particularly well en route to 30.8% shooting, including 25% from distance. Oregon also had more turnovers, while the Lopes picked up more steals.
Turning defense into offense!— GCU Women's Basketball (@GCU_WBB) November 17, 2023
Another steal and score for the Lopes. pic.twitter.com/qvu275o6Hv
The Ducks had better presence in the paint, and that - plus good defense that limited GC to 30.8% shooting - was the key in coming out with the first road win of the season.
Head coach Kelly Graves said after the game, “We certainly weren’t our best tonight, especially offensively. We didn’t shoot the ball that well, some of the players that typically get it done for us I thought struggled a bit from the field. But for the third game in a row now, we played good defense. We held them to about 30 percent from the field, which is great.”
The Lopes played the Ducks to with one point in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th quarters, but Oregon was able to go +5 in the 2nd quarter, and that lead carried them to the game victory.
HT— Oregon Women’s Basketball (@OregonWBB) November 17, 2023
GVS: 7 pts, 4 rebs
Gray: 5 pts, 2 asts, 2 rebs
Basham: 4 pts, 3 rebs
Kyei: 4 pts, 5 rebs
Bell: 3 pts, 3 asts
In the 3rd quarter, the Ducks were ahead by as much as 12 points, but GC kept on creeping back in the game.
Shay Fano AGAIN! Her third three of the game! pic.twitter.com/qjVGRvNWTw— GCU Women's Basketball (@GCU_WBB) November 17, 2023
The 4th period was more of the same, bringing us to the final score of 64-56.
Four Antelopes shot in double figures, led by Naudia Evans with 14 points.
Grace VanSlooten’s 21 points is her season high thus far, and she narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Phillipina Kyei picked up her third consecutive double-double, scoring 13 point and pulling down 10 boards. Chance Gray dropped 11 points and led the team with 7 assists.
Oregon then flew back to Eugene for a home match on Saturday against the Santa Clara Broncos.
The Oregon women’s basketball team knew that the home match against the Broncos was going to be a step up from earlier matches; however, I don’t think anyone foresaw a 39 point drubbing at the hands of Santa Clara.
There was not a single facet of this game where Santa Clara did not dominate the Ducks. Oregon was caught flat-footed against the Broncos barrage of three-point shots, with SC hitting on 8-10 in the first quarter and 4-5 in the second quarter.
this girl is on fire— Santa Clara Women's Basketball (@Santaclarawbb) November 18, 2023
Marya goes a perfect 3-for-3 from 3-point range in the first half and helps the Broncos jump out to a 31-12 lead after the first quarter of action ‼️#StampedeTogether pic.twitter.com/05NfybKviP
The Ducks stood no chance against the onslaught and were down 25 points at the half.
Santa Clara out-shot the Ducks. They out-rebounded the Ducks. They out-blocked the Ducks. They had far more points in the paint. They had fewer turnovers. They had far more assists. The Broncos shot 54.5% from the field, including 16-28 from beyond the arc for 57.1% shooting on threes.
“Hats off to Santa Clara,” said head coach Kelly Graves. “They played great, they earned it, they deserved it. I’ve never seen a team shoot like that, certainly against us, before. But it was more than the shooting.”
Oregon shot 35% (23.8% from distance), and the only players scoring in double digits were Chance Gray with 11 points and Sofia Bell with 10 points.
The Ducks ended their 16-game home win streak against nonconference opponents. There weren’t really any pieces to pick up and move off from - that was how dismal this performance was.
“We didn’t play well, we didn’t coach well,” Graves said. “There’s not a lot to it. This is a game we are going to flush in the toilet and hopefully learn from it. We’ve got to move on.”
Ducks women’s basketball hit the road again to face the Nevada. The Wolf Pack is a middling MWC school, and it was somewhat disconcerting to see Oregon struggle in the first quarter-and-a-half of this ballgame. The Ducks started choppy, not hitting the bucket and looking out of sync, and Nevada’s play was much more crisp.
While the Nevada hot start was not on the level of Santa Clara a few days earlier, it was still a shock to the system to see another team get it going over the Ducks behind some three-balls that were not missing.
The Wolf Pack picked up a seven point lead in the first quarter before the Oregon began to settle down in their game.
In the second period, the Wolf Pack started with a moderate lead, and for a little while you had to be concerned if you were an Oregon fan.
But even though the game was being contested more than was comfortable, and even though Nevada held some leads mid-quarter, the energy and play of the Ducks seemed to shift, as if they had figured something out that was standing in their way.
“I think it started in the second five minutes of the second quarter,” said head coach Kelly Graves after the game. “I just think we were able to control the pace. We were limiting them to one shot and then we came down offensively and did a great job of executing. (There was) A lot of really good things we did tonight. This was a good win.”
Part of what Oregon figured out was Phillipina Kyei. She had a great game from start to finish, and really buttressed the Ducks when the rest of the team was slumping. Going into the half, Oregon fought back from being down a few points to having a slim lead going into the third quarter, 33-32.
We’ll never know what was discussed mid-game in the locker room, but Oregon was a completely different team in the second half. They fixed the issues that never should have taken place in the first half and completely dominated Nevada with a 17-0 run that forever put the Wolf Pack in their rear view mirror.
The Ducks dominated on offense, but they also fixed their defensive woes. A Nevada team that shot 36.25% in the first half was crippled with 12.9% shooting in the second half. Oregon completely dominated the second half to a 76-47 final.
“I was really pleased, overall,” said Graves. “It was a really good effort. We got back up on that horse, so to speak. We got bucked off the other night and had a really bad taste in our mouths. I’m just really proud of our team to come out tonight and work their butts off and follow the game plan.”
Nevada had only one player score in double digits, Claire Jacobs. The Wolf Pack ended with 24% shooting (31.8% from distance), and 50% from the line on 4-8 shooting. They ended with 35 on the glass.
Grace VanSlooten finished with a double-double of 17 points and 16 rebounds. The story of this game, however, is Phillipina Kyei. Kyei has not been playing basketball as long as many other collegiate players, and it often showed in her previous two seasons. But Kyei has put in the hard work in the offseason, and we’re seeing the results this year. Kyei ended with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. The hidden nugget here is that she shot 6-7 at the line. That’s huge. Kyei will get fouled often this year, and it’s been apparent so far this season that she has been working on her free throw shooting. Kyei appears to be the most improved player on this Ducks team, and if that’s the case then watch out.
Sarah Rambis ended with a great game, finishing with 17 points on perfect 6-6 shooting and 5-6 at the charity stripe. Oregon still had too many turnovers (16), but their 58 rebounds outpaced Nevada by a wide margin.
The Oregon women have a little over a week to enjoy their holiday and then prep for a trip up north, where they face the Portland Pilots in Portland on Thursday, 11/30, at 6:00 pm PT.