The good news? The Oregon Ducks found the offense that they have been lacking of late. The bad news? They were not up to the task of defending against the Utah Utes.
Utah started the game with a 5-0 run, and the Ducks tied it at 5 off the efforts of Endyia Rogers, who helped spark the Oregon offense.
Rogers had a monster first period, scoring 13 of Oregon’s 23 points. On the other hand, it seemed like Utah could not miss a shot from outside the arc, going 5-8 in the first quarter alone.
The Ducks came out on top in the first quarter, 23-22. In the second period, the sides battled neck-and-neck. Grace VanSlooten and Chance Gray were major contributors in the 2nd. Oregon had a lead at the 2:33 mark but did not close the quarter well, with the Utes going on an 8-0 run. Only a VanSlooten score with two seconds to go allowed the Ducks to end the half down only six. It was at this point in the game that Oregon’s inability to keep Utah from scoring in the paint became glaringly obvious.
The half ended with Utah up by six, 41-47.
The Utes were ahead through most of the third period, but Oregon tied at 58 and then again at 64, mainly because Endyia Rogers and Chance Gray were finding the three-ball.
Tying at 64 would be as close as the Ducks would get for the rest of the game. Utah was completely controlling the paint, and Oregon had no answers.
Utah was up 71-76 going into the 4th quarter. Oregon came tantalizingly close to the Utes in the 4th, but missed shots and the inability to defend well against Utah allowed the Utes to score the most points ever against a Kelly Graves Oregon team. As you can see here, there’s no one defending the inside move, and this goes in for a easy layup:
A cruel twist of fate is that the Ducks scored the most points in a Pac-12 game this season with 92, but they gave up 100. Oregon shot very well, ending with 50%, but Utah shot better at 62%, including shooting a scorching 13-25 from downtown.
Utah had four players in double digits. All of those had multiple three-point shots, and Alissa Pili was the scoring leader, finishing with 30 points on 12-18 shooting, including going 3-3 from beyond the arc. Said Oregon coach Kelly Graves after the game. “Pili’s the best player in the conference. I told her after the game I think she’s the best player, and if I had a vote today she gets my MVP vote. She is what sets them apart.”
Utah took it to the Ducks in the paint today, with 50 points to Oregon’s 36 points. They also moved the ball well, reflected in their 29 assists.
Oregon also had four players in double digits, lead by Endyia Rogers with 35 points. Chance Gray was next with 18 points, while Grace VanSlooten ended with 16 and Taya Hanson recorded 13. The Ducks improved their assists number to 18 while committing only six turnovers.
Most curious is the scoring absence of Te-Hina Paopao. Paopao shot 1-9 on Friday and followed that up with a 2-12 performance today, including a cumulative 0-8 on threes. Kelly Graves commented on this during his post-game comments (he talks about Paopao starting at the 4:31 mark):
The Ducks (14-9, 5-7 Pac-12) have now lost five of their last six games, and are tied for eighth in the Pac-12. Washington’s stunning upset of Stanford earlier in the day puts Utah (20-2, 10-2 Pac-12) in a first-place tie with Stanford.
Oregon is on the road over the next two weeks, first to the southern California schools, and then up to the Washington schools the week after. If the Ducks want to see post-season play, they’ll have to come out of their current nosedive.