Ducks Avenge Loss

The last time the Oregon Duck and the Arizona Wildcats met, the game turned into a record-breaking fast break affair, which the Wildcats won 119-112 at the McKale Center on January, 16. In Thursday night's matchup at McArthur Court, the Ducks (15-8, 6-5) shook off a slow start to defeat the Wildcats 92-74. The Wildcats (11-11, 5-7) are now winless in Eugene since January 22, 2004.

"It was an important win for us," Coach Paul Westhead said. With the win, Oregon moved into a tie for fifth place with California, which didn't play Thursday night, but will face the Washington State Cougars in Pullman on Friday.

The Ducks were led by Nia Jackson's 18 points, four assists and five steals, but five other Oregon players were also in double figures on the night. Victoria Kenyon scored 13, Amanda Johnson recorded a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds, Jasmin Holliday chipped in 11 points and Nicole Canepa and Taylor Lilley both scored 15 points a piece.

Westhead praised Jackson's effort coming off of a scary collision at the end of the Civil War last week.

"She just makes things happen," Westhead said. "I think she really needed that game to reestablish her wind and her readiness."

"I knew that I had to create some stuff offensively for our team and defensively," Jackson said. "He [Westhead] was really counting on me and I had just had to step up to the challenge and get after it."

From the opening tip, Oregon's full court pressure wasn't as effective as usual, as the Wildcats were able to break the press frequently by releasing a guard down the floor and throwing long passes, which led to two-on-one breaks and easy mid-range jump shots in the first half. Oregon played sloppy basketball for much of the first half as the Ducks turned the ball over 12 times and weren't able to capitalize on open opportunities in the paint. The score was tied seven times in the first half and there were 10 lead changes as the scrappy, quick teams traded baskets for much of the first half.

Nia Jackson paced the Ducks in the first with 11 points, but Oregon's offense took a hit as Taylor Lilley picked up three quick first-half fouls. Picking up the slack, Victoria Kenyon hit three crucial three-pointers during the first half that ignited Oregon's offense. Kenyon knocked down a much-needed three 7:00 left and then another that put the Ducks in front 34-31 with 5:40 left. Finally, Kenyon capped off her 11-point first-half performance with her third three of the half, which spread Oregon's lead to 41-36, with 1:38 left. Taylor Lilley then broke the UO single-season three-point record after a steal by Jackson. Lilley's record-breaking three-pointer put Oregon in front, 44-36. The Ducks held a 44-38 lead at half.

Oregon blew the game open early in the second half as their defensive pressure created turnovers and their unselfish, up-tempo play helped them jump out to a 67-51 lead with 11:34 left.

"We shared the ball very well," said Westhead of the key Oregon run to start the second.

The Wildcats never recovered from that run as Oregon held a double digit lead for the rest of the game, stretching the lead to 23 at one point and playing arguably their best half of basketball this season.

"The last five minutes of the first half we played some zone defense and I think it helped us a little bit," Westhead said "So we went right back to our presses at the start of the second half." The press caused 10 second-half Wildcat turnovers and wore down Arizona's thin eight-woman roster.

"The pace eventually effected Arizona," Westhead said. "In the second half I just think that our pace kind of got to them."

The Ducks forced 19 turnovers, but also had 18 turnovers of their own, something Westhead was not pleased with. "18 is too many," He said. "The pace of the game and the way we play should minimize turnovers rather than maximize it."

But Oregon poured in 19 assists and won the rebounding battle 53-44. They also received a big boost in the paint from Canepa, who scored all of her 15 points in the second half.

"Nicole Canepa stepped up," Westhead said. "She had some big baskets in the second half when we needed her to."

Though Lilley accounted for a quiet 15 points, she also had nine assists, five rebounds, three steals and zero turnovers on yet another record-breaking night for the senior guard.

"Her ability to find open people really helps our game and helps her," said Westhead of Lilley. "Ultimately if she makes enough assists they're going to get off her. She's having a terrific season." Lilley is averaging 3.6 threes a game, which places her third in the nation. She finished with three three-pointers on Thursday and now has 83 threes this season.

Next, Oregon faces Arizona State on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. at McArthur Court.

eDuck Top Stories