'We're playing as a team': Oregon women beat Utah State, 100-77
EUGENE, Ore. - A career night for senior Katelyn Loper lifted the Oregon women's basketball team over Utah State 100-77, getting a win in the Ducks' 2014-15 season opener.
Loper scored 33 points, the game high and a career best. She went 12-19 from the field, including 8-12 from beyond the arc, one three-pointer away from tying her single-game school record of 9 three-point field goals.
Once again, the Ducks started out the game on fire, hitting their first 11 shots on the way to building a 28-8 lead. Loper and freshman Lexi Bando led the attack, combining to shoot 9-11 from the three-point line in the first half.
After hitting 11 straight, the Ducks cooled off a bit. Shooting 3-8 in a short stretch, the Aggies were able to force a few turnovers and cut the lead to 12 with 8:00 to play in the first half.
Just when it started looking like a close game, the three-ball started falling again for the Ducks. Loper hit back-to-back threes, and Bando added another to push the lead back to 20.
Junior Lexi Petersen joined the party, scoring 8 straight points, and the Aggies found themselves trailing 59-41 going into the half.
Taking advantage of a slow second half start by Oregon, Utah State used a 9-0 run to get within 61-50. The Ducks answered with a 7-0 run of their own to push the lead back up to 18.
Loper's seventh three-pointer of the game sparked a 9-0 run where the Ducks built a 26 point lead at 81-55 with 8:30 to play. From there, the Ducks were able to coast the rest of the way to a victory.
Junior Jillian Alleyne recorded her 42nd double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. She has now moved into 4th all-time on the UO Record board for career rebound with 901 in her career.
The Ducks totaled 25 assists on 34 made baskets, something that is well attributed to ball movement and spacing on offense.
"We were very happy with the assists because that means we were getting the ball to the third or fourth person. The assist shows that we aren't being selfish and that we're playing as a team so we are very happy with it," said Alleyne.
With minimal problems on the offensive side of the ball, the Ducks look to focus on defense as they head into their regular season schedule.
"We have a lot to work on, but I think it was there," said Alleyne. "It wasn't a lack of anything, we were rotating. I think we can do a better job of communicating and just knowing where to be on the next pass. I thought the effort was there, we just have to know a second sooner where to be."
The Ducks were only able to force 13 turnovers, and were displeased with the Aggies 77 points on 43.7 percent shooting.
"I know we are limited, body-wise, and I know we have some habits that we need to work on," said Loper. "That's why I think [our defense] was just okay. We are definitely capable of holding teams in the 50 or 60-point range. It just takes the whole team to focus on that, and the offense will come."
Kelly Graves opened his first year as head coach of the Ducks with a regular season win, and he showed that his team can score, despite moving the Ducks away from their previous fast-break system famously used by former coach Paul Westhead.
"When you jump on a team like we did early with that three-point barrage, you know, good things are going to happen." Graves said.
"I thought we could have defended a lot better, that was the part that kind of frustrated me. I get it though, you hit those three's and you're feeling good, sometimes defense becomes an afterthought," said the coach, "It just can't be that way though, that was our message at the half."
The Ducks host preseason No. 13 North Carolina in Matthew Knight Arena on Nov. 23 (3 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Networks)