Another of the starting five, Corrie Mizusawa missed several days of practice earlier this week and sat out the Husky game so it is reasonable to view the first half performance as part of the process of getting the timing back between her and her teammates.
Yet another distraction was the officiating – though not a factor in the final result, the Cougars used a lack of whistles to play an aggressive, physical brand of defense that did stymie much of what the Ducks had hoped to do offensively.
Most probably, the first half was a product of all of the above.
Neither team shot well from the field. For the night, Washington State could only muster a 29.0% showing on 24-for-60 from the floor, though the Cougars were more accurate from three-point range, shooting 46.2% on 6-for-13. The Ducks were just enough better to take the game in hand, shooting 40.0% on 24-for-60 from the floor, and 8-for-22 (36.4%) from behind the three-point line.
The Ducks were led in scoring again by Catherine Kraayeveld with 16, her eleventh straight game reaching double figures in scoring. Her total included a 4-for-5 performance from three-point range and her outside touch was instrumental in eliminating the non-calls from the game equation for the Ducks. Kraayeveld also contributed 11 rebounds, five offensive, to complete her second straight double double.
Both Andrea Bills and Gabrielle Richardson helped establish a solid inside presence for the Ducks. Bills grabbed eight rebounds and posted 12 point while Richards added seven points and five rebounds. Richards also blocked four shots, a career high. Corrie Mizusawa led the Ducks with seven assists.
Washington State was led in scoring by Adriane Ferguson with 13 points. Kate Benz posted a double double for the Cougars with 11 points and ten rebounds.
Once the Ducks were able to get into the locker room at halftime with a five-point lead at 28-23, they were able to regroup and take control of the game right from the start of the second frame. Opening the stanza with a 13-5 run provided some breathing room. Another run, this one a 13-4 spree, at the 7:00 minute mark put the game out of reach. Both were triggered by good defense and pushing the ball up court on missed shots and turnovers.
The Ducks frequently switched between their man-to-man and their 2-3 zone defenses. The zone forced the Cougars into a perimeter game and allowed the Ducks to establish themselves on the defensive boards, particularly after the half. Oregon out rebounded Washington State 45-39 on the night, but by 10 (29-19) in the second half.
Setting aside the multiplicity of factors that confounded their best efforts in the first half, the Duck women demonstrated a tenacity and determination by coming out for the second session and playing more to their capabilities on both ends of the floor. If the Ducks are able to maintain that resolve, they will go a long way toward dealing with the loss of Wagner. As the conference season hits the mid-way point with next week's trip to Arizona, that resolve will be surely tested.