Employing a tenacious 2-3-zone defense, the Bengals were successful in forcing Oregon to shoot mostly from the perimeter. Whenever Oregon was able to penetrate to the interior of the defense, Idaho State's players were able to collapse quickly and clog the interior passing lanes and contest any shots the Ducks were able to take in the paint, keeping Oregon from gaining any traction on offense.
The tale of the better times began shortly after the start of the second half. Energized by the break, or perhaps by the discussion of the opening period by the coaching staff, Oregon scored the first 10 points of the second stanza and ratcheted up the pressure on the defensive end. Senior forward Catherine Kraayeveld and senior center Andrea Bills took the paint away from the Bengals then with several blocked shots, triggered Oregon's transition game.
As the early minutes of the second half unfolded, the up-tempo pace was sporadic, but the Ducks were persistent in forcing the game to speed up for them. It began to pay off three minutes into the second half when Andrea Bills blocked a shot in the lane and point guard Corrie Mizusawa was able to run the fast break for a bucket that set the stage for Oregon's transition game.
With their next possession, Idaho State got a taste of what was in store for the rest of the half as Kraayeveld blocked two of Molly Hays' shots in succession, with Mizusawa taking the second and forcing the ball up-court for a lay-up.
Another miss by Idaho State and a crisp baseline to baseline fast break, with Eleanor Haring clearing the defensive board to Mizusawa and then to Kraayeveld for the lay-up put the Ducks ahead 32-31.
As the crowd of 3,272 started to respond to the elevated pace, Oregon began to attack Idaho State's zone along the baseline. Kraayeveld, who ended up with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocked shots for the night, was more than the Bengals could handle inside and the Ducks began to make use their better size and athleticism.
Once established, Oregon's inside game took its toll on the visitors, allowing the perimeter shooting to help gain control of the game. Both sophomore forward Eleanor Haring, who was 6-10 from the floor for 13 points and senior guard Brandi Davis, 5 for 9 shooting (3-5 on 3pt attempts)and 14 points, found their range eliminating any possible comeback for the visitors.
Leading the way for Idaho State was 6'3" center Natalie Doma. Effective both inside and out to about 15 feet, Doma posted 19 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocked to shots.
The victory gives Oregon their best start at 6-0 since the '96-'97 season. Idaho State fell to 3-5 for the year.
As Bev Smith told OSN, "it was a tale of two halves. Give credit to Idaho State, but we tried to take some shortcuts in the first half… our defense was so much more aggressive in the second half, that's the kind of defense we want to play."
The offense was much more efficient in the second half as well, shooting 22-36 and 61.1%, including 7-11 from behind the 3-point arc. Oregon also owned a 46-37 advantage on the boards, after trailing Idaho State by one at halftime.
A tale of two halves, indeed. While the pep band played Katrina and The Waves "Walking On Sunshine" as the crowd made their way out into the night, the only thing left to do was for the janitors to turn off whatever lights Haring and Davis hadn't already shot out.
Next up for the Ducks is a trip to take on the 7-2 Colorado State Rams of the Mountain West Athletic conference in a rematch of last season's Pape Jam pairing. OSN will televise beginning at 5:00 PM.