Oregon Women Whip Wildcats

This game couldn't have followed any other script. In fitting fashion Catherine Kraayeveld, Andrea Bills and Corrie Mizusawa played what was likely their last home game Saturday at McArthur Court, with each contributing significantly to the 69-51 victory over the Arizona Wildcats. As the 4,862 raucous fans in attendance would attest, there simply would be no other acceptable result.

The victory raised Oregon's record to 18-7 on the season - 11-5 in conference play – and moved the Ducks into sole possession of second place in the conference standings heading into the last weekend of play. The Ducks also finished the home schedule 9-0 in conference and 12-1 overall, the only loss to 3rd-ranked Ohio State.

With emotions and adrenaline combining in a somewhat unstable concoction for the Ducks in the game's first moments, Arizona sprinted to a quick 10-3 lead before all the bouquets and corsages had been safely set aside after the pre-game festivities that honored the three senior players.

A Kraayeveld three-point basket got the Ducks even at 16, and after an Arizona bucket, a sweet assist from Mizusawa on a Bills lay-up forged another tie at 18 and the Ducks began to put the Wildcats in the rear-view mirror.

After two Eleanor Haring free throws gave Oregon the lead for good at 20-18 with 5:21 left in the first half, the Ducks used tenacious defense and relentless rebounding to expand the margin to 10 by the half, 33-23.

Whatever it was that Oregon coach Bev Smith imparted to the group at the half, it was potent stuff. In what may well be the sepia-toned memory most of those 4,862 will relish years from now, the Ducks opened the second half with a blitzkrieg that all but ended the Wildcats hopes.

With a high post kick out pass, Bills assisted on a Kraayeveld trey, then after an Arizona basket, Mizusawa assisted on a Brandi Davis three and then on another trey by Kraayeveld and the lead was 17.

It wasn't easy from there, Arizona employed full court pressure that forced a number of turnovers and contributed to an indecisive and motionless Oregon offense through the middle portion of the second half.

The Wildcats were able to narrow the lead to seven points at 48-41 with more than eleven minutes remaining in the game and it appeared the tide may have been turned in their favor.

Another Kraayeveld three… and there may not have been many bigger in her career than that one… followed by a highlight drive to the bucket and a lay-up by Mizusawa and the Ducks had turned back the momentum Arizona seemingly had established

Down the stretch outstanding positional defense and solid rebounding allowed the Ducks to expand their lead to the final margin of 18.

With both teams playing solid defense and in a very unevenly officiated game, neither team was able to shoot the ball for a high percentage. Oregon ended the night shooting 23-for-64 (11-for-26 3pt) and 35.9% while Arizona could only manage 32.8% on 20-for-51 (2-for-12 3pt) from the floor.

Oregon held a seven-rebound advantage over the Wildcats, 44-37, and out rebounded Arizona on the offensive end 16 to 13.

In likely their last games at McArthur Court, both Andrea Bills and Catherine Kraayeveld posted double-doubles. Bills tallied ten points and ten rebounds for the 12th of her career, and Kraayeveld scored 14 points and grabbed an even dozen off the glass for the 27th of her tenure. Not to be outshined by her classmates, Corrie Mizusawa led the team with nine assists and in minutes played with 39. Brandi Davis led the Ducks in scoring with 19 points.

Dee Dee Wheeler was the Wildcat leading scorer with 20.

After the game, Oregon coach Bev Smith spoke to the character of the graduating seniors, saying, "All three are exceptional young women. All three of them have been through adversity. All three of them have had to challenge themselves and then challenge each other and then challenge the team. I thought they had great leadership today."

Another challenge is in order as the Ducks next opponent is 4th ranked Stanford in Palo Alto on Thursday. Addressing that task, Kraayeveld provided the game plan the Ducks hope to employ, "We just have to come out aggressive like we did tonight… and be confident."

It would also be useful to pack a bit of the lightening in a bottle the Ducks used to put this game away and to indelibly punctuate what should be the last home court appearance for those three special ladies.

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