That the possibility even existed this game could have gotten away from the Ducks speaks mostly to their continued vulnerability to teams with quickness and rebounding tenacity. .
Once again, having a substantial size advantage at all positions on the floor did not translate well into a consistent, reliable means of controlling the game, at least until Andrea Bills took matters into hand as the game hung in the balance late in the second half.
With Oregon point guard Corrie Mizusawa a spectator for this game due to a virus, Kaela Chapdelaine was given the keys to run the offense in the first start of her career. Early on, Oregon appeared to up to the challenge, racing out to a ten point lead in the first five minutes of the contest and maintained that margin until just past the half-way point of the first stanza.
Then the Huskies, winners of the last four contests between the two programs, began to chip away at the lead. Using their motion offense to create quickness mismatches on the wings and the baseline as well as on the offensive boards the Huskies put together a 16-2 run that gave them their first lead at 30-28.
The teams traded baskets until the intermission with Washington leading at the half 39-37.
The second half started out the way the first had ended; a back and forth affair with eight lead changes and two ties. Beginning at the 15:00 minute mark, the Ducks used a Gabrielle Richards lay-up, a pair of Chelsea Wagner free throws and then a trey by Wagner to build a slim margin at 56-52.
Throughout the contest, Oregon's 3-point shooting was outstanding. Kristin Forristall set the tone right from the game's opening possession, her first shot finding nothing but the twine. Chelsea Wagner picked up on the vibe draining her first two long distance attempts as well, sandwiched around another trey by Forristall. As a team Oregon shot 8-for-15, for 53.3% from behind the stripe.
Wagner in particular enjoyed a fine night from the perimeter, shooting 6-for-8 from trey-land, with a 2-for-2 effort from the foul line to wind up the night with 20 points. A major concern for the Ducks is the right knee injury she suffered midway through the second half. After being helped off the court, Wagner was not able to return except to lend her support from the team bench.
After the game, Oregon coach Bev Smith lauded her effort, saying ""What an incredible game Chelsea played tonight. She was huge — 20 points in 21 minutes" but acknowledging the injury in her next breath, ""We'll probably have to take her in tomorrow and get an MRI. But we're keeping our fingers crossed."
With Oregon ahead by four 67-63 at the time of Wagner's injury, it became the focus of the Duck offense to find Andrea Bills nearly every time down the court. As they had most of the game, Washington hoped to take advantage of Mizusawa's absence by pressing full court. Oregon countered by using a backcourt screen, usually set by Catherine Kraayeveld, to help the transition into the frontcourt.
Once in the forecourt, Bills was able to use her height advantage to gain post position for lay-ups or, more frequently, foul shots. Andrea led the team in scoring with 21 points on 5-of-8 from the floor and a stellar 11-for-15 from the charity stripe.
In the final minutes of the game, Oregon used those free throws, and an Eleanor Haring jump shot to steadily build a margin from one last tie at 77 with 1:52 remaining to the somewhat deceptive final spread.
Catherine Kraayeveld posted a double-double on ten points and ten boards. The ten points is also the tenth straight double figure scoring effort for the senior forward, and the ten rebounds paced the Ducks in that statistic.
Though a touch shakey at first, Gabrielle Richards settled and found her game inside with 12 points, mostly on tough buckets off offensive misses; four of her six rebounds were at the Oregon end of the floor.
Junior guard Kayla Burt led the Husky scoring with 21 on 8-for-13 from the floor and 3-for-6 on three point attempts. Washington shot 30-for-69 from the floor for the night, but only 6-for-21 from behind the 3-pt arch. Kristen O'Neill and Breanne Watson tied for the team lead in rebounds with seven apiece.
Rebounding statistics were identical for each team, 36 total on the night with 15 off the offensive glass.
Hoping to complete a weekend sweep – and the northwest trifecta – the Ducks host Washington State at McArthur Court this Saturday night. Tip-off is 7:00 pm.