Ducks Roll Eagles

It was a record breaking night for Paul Westhead and the University of Oregon women's basketball team, as they officially opened up the 2009-2010 season with an 86-48 victory over the Eastern Washington Eagles, Monday night.

The Ducks were led by senior guard Taylor Lilley, who scored a career-high 28 points and hit a career-high seven three pointers, and junior forward Nicole Canepa, who came off the bench to score a career-high 17 points and pull down 10 rebounds. The Eagles never found an answer for Canepa, who also went 9-for-12 from the free throw line and converted on three huge three-point plays on her way to recording her second career double-double.

"We got a nice pickup from Nicole," Westhead said. "Nicole came into the game and gave us some inside offense, gave us some big, big baskets and if they we're ever going to make a run, she put a stop to it."

Lilley shot a blistering 50 percent (7-14) from beyond the arc and finished the night 10-for-21 from the field. At one point in the second half, she sank four consecutive three-pointers in a span of barely two minutes.

"It's kind of surreal I guess," said Lilley of her performance. "It's just so nice to just be able to shoot the ball like that and just kind of get into that rhythm."

Lilley said that since the exhibition games, she has been working on a quicker release. In Monday night's season opener, Lilley showed just how much of a threat she can be in Westhead's offense.

""I just don't have that pressure of thinking ‘is this a good shot, is this not a good shot,'" Lilley said.

"Taylor Lilley was enfuego," Westhead said. "She can really stroke the ball. Our goal is to keep that player shooting the ball like that and getting her open shots on a very consistent basis, and it won't be easy because teams will try and shut her down."

Oregon's 38-point victory was its largest since Dec. 10, 2005, when the Ducks beat Prarie View A&M 102-36. The Ducks' 86 points were the most they've scored in almost two years.

"It feels really good," said Canepa of the win. "We haven't had this feeling in awhile."

Despite the record breaking performance, it was a game marred by poor shooting, sloppy play and turnovers—for both teams. The Eagles, who out-shot the Ducks 65-64, shot 29.2 percent (19-65), while the Ducks shot 40.6 percent (26-64) from the field. The Ducks forced 23 turnovers, but the coughed the ball up 19 times.

"If we're in game four, and five and we're turning the ball over like that, I'll be concerned," Westhead said.

"Honestly, that wasn't our best out there at all, and we know that," Canepa said.

The Ducks allowed just 48 points, but at times on Monday night, the defense struggled. With ten minutes left in the first half, two free throws by Eagles' junior guard Tatiana Sparavalo, cut the Ducks lead to four points at 18-14. Westhead called off the man-to-man matchup defense and had the Ducks switch to a 3-2 zone defense. The zone caused problems for the Eagles and forced them to settle for outside shots. By halftime, the Eagles were shooting just 8 percent (1-12) from the three-point line and 33 percent (11-33) from the field.

Westhead said that although the Ducks spent a lot of time working on the zone in practice this week, he hadn't planned on using it that much, but sophomore forward Amanda Johnson and redshirt-sophomore Nia Jackson both got into early foul trouble in the first half.

"I just didn't like what I was seeing in the press," Westhead said. "The zone really helped us, because as good as this team could shoot the ball, the zone seemed to fluster them and we got a lot of defensive rebounds and outlets as a result of the zone defense. Well get better in the zone. That will be a weapon for us."

"We were not doing to well in the matchup, but I think the zone really helped us out," Canepa said. "We've been working on that a lot."

Along with the career nights from Canepa and Lilley, junior forward Victoria Kenyon pulled down a career-high nine rebounds for the Ducks, who out-rebounded the Eagles 51-37.

"A good thing about this game too, is that it shows that we have a lot of room for improvement," Lilley said.

The Ducks were without sophomore guard/forward Jasmine Holliday, who is attending to family matters in Southern California, for the second straight game.

Next up for the Ducks is a Nov. 22 road-game at Montana, slated to tip off at 1 p.m. PST.

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