Now 4-0, Ducks face tough tests > Oregon

EUGENE, Arch. — The Oregon women’s basketball team has earned passing grades in four games, but the Ducks are about to face their toughest test yet.

The no. 18 Ducks went 4-0 up Monday night with a 66-54 win over Southern Utah in front of 6,128 fans at Matthew Knight Arena. Next, Oregon heads north to Portland for Thursday’s Phil Knight Invitational game against No. 8 North Carolina.

“I’m very excited to see what our team can do against a top 10 team,” said UO junior Te-Hina Paopao, who led the Ducks by 17 points on Monday. “We just have to put together a whole game and I know we’re going to be great.”

In that regard, the Ducks will look to continue their game from Monday’s performance, which saw them best the Thunderbirds 48-23 in the first and third quarters but 31-18 in the second and fourth quarters.

“I’ve told the team before that this is the best team we’ve played against,” said the UO coach Kelly Graves said. “And that turned out to be true. They played really hard and for the first time this year we did an outwork and an outrebound. It was a bit disappointing.”

WBB vs. SUU

How it happened: Paopao set the tone from the leap, scoring on first possession on their way to seven points in the first quarter. Grace VanSlooten scored on back-to-back trips as the Ducks took an 11-6 lead, and after Southern Utah closed within 18-15, Oregon had the last six points of the period, four from Jennah Isai.

After shooting 11-of-16 in the opening period, the Ducks went down to a 5-of-15 in the second. Phillipina Kyei had four points and four rebounds during that period, including a putback late in the half that made it 35-23.

Oregon used defense to put together a solid third quarter and edge Southern Utah 24-8. Taya Hanson made a steal and fed Paopao on the break for a three that made it 46-29 and later Chance Gray had another steal and ended up at the other end for a 51-31 lead. Three points from Gray and Hanson and a layup from Taylor Hosendove fueled an 8-0 run to end the quarter, which ended 59-33.

WBB vs. SUU

That energy didn’t carry over into the fourth, in which the Ducks were beaten 21-7. After VanSlooten opened the period with a bucket, the Thunderbirds used an 11-0 run to move to 61-44. The UO basket that ended the run was, on the whole, at least encouraging – the Ducks have been working to help VanSlooten when she’s in a brace and when she found herself in that exact situation at the post, Paopao called for that Ball on the wing and calmly knocked down a three-pointer.

“Te-Hina played a really good game tonight,” Graves said. “And it was under control the whole time. She really did this for us all year long. Really proud of her.”

Who stood out: The Ducks were plus-19 with Paopao on the floor as she scored her 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting and added four assists with no turnover, three rebounds and two steals. Gray and VanSlooten each had 12 points, while Hanson and Endyia Rogers combined for nine steals, but sometimes struggled to finish.

WBB vs. SUU

Quotable:

UO trainer Kelly Graves on meeting the No. 8 Tar Heels after Monday’s uneven performance
“We need to play a lot better, there’s no question about that. Much more intensity. Those were good attitudes for this tournament. Now it’s getting serious. Hopefully our kids have learned a lesson.

Freshman guard Chance Gray on the schedule that gets tougher in the coming weeks
“I think we watched one game after the other; Te-Hina reminded us to just focus on the next game, not look ahead. But now we’re here, so we’re ready to go.”

Next: The Ducks take on North Carolina Thursday (2 p.m. ESPNU) in the Phil Knight Invitational at the Chiles Center in Portland.

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