Ducks win at Gill for first time since 2010, complete civil war sweep
CORVALLIS, Ore. — With a list of accomplishments already longer than the lines of fans pouring into Gill Coliseum for civil war weekend’s second installment, Sabrina Ionescu managed to check a new box on Sunday afternoon.
The 66-57 Oregon victory was the program’s first win at Gill since 2010, the first road win over Oregon State for any member of the Ducks coaching staff and roster.
Easy as it might be to point to Oregon’s ‘Unfinished Business’, this civil war weekend was filled with reminders to appreciate and enjoy what’s happening between the lines on a nightly basis for anyone too far down that rabbit hole. Ionescu delivered some of those ‘wow’ moments we’ve come to expect, and the Ducks made a big statement these past two weeks about where they truly stand in the best conference in the country. The rest of the Pac-12 is still chasing Oregon.
Stanford and OSU are closest behind with time on their side and some film to study. Others may prove ready to even join them in that second tier.
Both games approached similar windows around the 4:00 mark in the fourth quarter. Oregon led by as many as 21 on Friday. OSU avoided a blowout then took it one step further. An Aleah Goodman steal-score cut the deficit to seven. Satou Sabally answered with a late-clock 3-pointer. OSU struck out on three chances to score moments later trailing by eight each time.
Sunday’s game didn’t quite get away from OSU in that fashion. After an 8-0 start, Oregon led by as many as seven at several points in the third quarter. But the Ducks tacked on seven more to start the fourth with Taylor Jones and Mikayla Pivec in serious foul trouble.
OSU got within nine on a Kat Tudor triple. Late clock, Oregon answered with a 3-pointer once again, this time from freshman Jaz Shelley. Scott Rueck later referred to that shot as the dagger.
But Sunday’s final score felt like a small, small footnote.
Even if by chance not a soul among the announced crowd of 9,301 at Gill felt a deep connection to Kobe or Gianna Bryant, one glance at number 20 in green left viewers with a snapshot they’ll never forget. The player we’ve followed so closely for four years and now only need to reference by given name, along with countless others across the globe, was in pain mourning the tragic news of the day moments before tipoff.
Time stood still as we got a glimpse of what those two people meant to the best player in the country, the presumptive No. 1 pick, the face of women’s college basketball, the recruit that completely altered the trajectory of a program, the force that has pushed a rivalry and an entire conference to new heights.
“This season’s for him,” Ionescu said postgame.
More notes from this pair of top-10 matchups:
- Kat Tudor started both games for OSU in Goodman’s place. That kind of change doesn’t represent some seismic shift. All four of their top guards are going to play a bunch, regardless. But Goodman did enter the weekend shooting just 4-of-23 from deep through six conference games. The change may have paid off with Goodman getting back to her norm, knocking down five of her eight 3-point attempts against the Ducks.
- Another shooting note: Sabally is down to 26.5 percent after shooting 2-of-13 from deep over the weekend. She made knocked down the one that ultimately mattered most on Friday. That mark is worth monitoring moving forward. She shot 37 percent as a freshman and 41.5 percent last season after upping her volume to 5.2 3-point attempts per game.
- Another Sabally note: The junior forward has shown signs of growth amid said subpar shooting nights. She’s consistently finding ways to make impact plays even when the ball isn’t going in the basket. Sabally struck three different times from the middle of OSU’s zone and converted a three-point play to open the fourth that personified one of Sunday’s biggest issues for the Beavers.
- Oregon shot 38.7 percent from the field on Sunday but collected 15 offensive rebounds. Ruthy Hebard led the charge with eight.
- How fitting, then, for Hebard and Sabally’s efforts to have a say in that foul trouble for Jones and Pivec. Sabally drew Jones’ first foul after crashing hard off her player, who was already heading back on defense, and securing a defensive rebound.
- Jones sat the entire second quarter with two fouls, but OSU mustered 21 points in that period and only trailed by three at the break.
- Jones picked up her third as her elbow appeared to make contact with Hebard’s chin while posting up. (Teaira McCowan could definitely relate.) Jones sat for about two minutes then returned with OSU still trailing by three.
- Pivec picked up her fourth and went to the bench late in the third. Jones joined her seconds later still sitting on three. Those final two-ish minutes and the opening possession of the fourth proved to be the pivotal stretch of the afternoon.
- OSU went scoreless on its final five possessions of the third, all without Pivec (four without Jones). A Hebard putback pushed Oregon’s lead to seven.
- Then Sabally struck again. She and Hebard gave Oregon three chances to start the fourth after a Sabally missed a runner in the lane. Sabally converted a three-point play on that third try as Jones picked up her fourth foul. (Jones stayed in the game until she fouled out at the 1:17 mark with Oregon up by 10.)
- In hindsight, Pivec giving a foul (her second) in the closing seconds of the first half really hurt, especially because Oregon managed to score at the horn anyway.
- One final note on the matter: Two fouls for those key players pointed back to Oregon’s offensive rebounding and very specific instances that can make that call to switch to a zone so difficult. Sabally attacking seams, converting chances in the lane then joining Hebard in crashing the offensive glass made life tough for Jones and her teammates.
- Jones has no other choice but to drop all the way back into the charge circle, hoping to contest a shot then go get the rebound. Sabally and Hebard had some two-on-one chances on the glass, and one player can only win so many of those battles.
- Rueck’s lengthy answer on Kennedy Brown’s shooting struggles is worth a read:
"I think she’s just adapting to the speed of the game. I think that’s the biggest thing for first-year players coming in. Part of it speaks to the level that we’re playing at. It’s not like we’re just playing anybody. We’re playing some really good teams that scheme you correctly, the timing matters…It’s just part of the game. It’s just getting comfortable.She’s got a beautiful shot. I watched that [3-pointer] go down for four years watching her [in high school]. This line’s a little bit further. She’s playing on a massive stage, gaining experience as she goes. With each player, you try to help them speed up their shot to make it as quick and efficient as possible so that they can always be in a relaxed state. We’ll work with her on a couple fine-tune things.I believe Kennedy is going to be a 40 percent 3-point shooter before this is over. It’s just a matter of time."
- Note that this is just one clip, but as noted earlier this season, I think open jump shots for Brown are going to fall in a ‘we’ll live with ‘em’ bucket for OSU opponents until/if she shoots them out of that approach. At the same time, I wonder coming away from this weekend if Jones will need to be featured even more as a scoring option for the Beavers to beat the best teams. They’ll need to be very intentional with what they ask Brown to do and where to be when they’re looking to throw it inside.
- This Jones post score against Hebard is one of the plays that stuck with me most looking back on both games.
- We still don’t have any kind of verified database to work with on player wingspans, but I’ll venture to say Jones has some really long arms. Against one of the best players at her position, it was impressive to see Jones work so decisively in going to her left hand to get her team a bucket on that stage.
- This was a fun look from OSU on Friday with Tudor as the screener in some guard-guard action:
- They ran it back two more times after that bucket, with Ionescu walling off Slocum and contesting a tough jumper and Slocum handing off to Pivec to use that screen coming out of the right corner.
- Discussions of those small-small actions sometimes become too focused on who the offense is looking to target. The real target in this case, to me, is getting Minyon Moore off of Slocum. Remember those three scoring chances OSU had down eight in the fourth? Slocum opted to go one-on-one with Moore twice and came away empty-handed.
- Taylor Chavez had a very impressive weekend logging 45 minutes as Oregon’s top reserve. She shot 5-of-6 from downtown and has been one of the team’s better perimeter defenders.
- This was a stark contrast to last season’s game at Gill. Chavez closed that game for the injured Hebard and OSU essentially dared her to beat them with 3-pointers slotting their center onto her in crunch time.
- Also worth remembering: the 5’10” guard missed Oregon’s entire 2019 postseason run due to a foot injury. With the Ducks turning to some center-less lineups of late, every bit of additional guard depth will be key.
In case you missed it, here’s the previous edition of ‘Around the Pac-12′ on Stanford’s weekend in Oregon, USC’s upset of UCLA, the Arizonas taking care of business in Washington and more:
Breaking down the weekend in Pac-12 women's basketball including Stanford's top-10 matchups at Oregon and Oregon State and UCLA's first loss of the season.
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