Eugene, OR – The Oregon Ducks women’s team faced their toughest challenge of the new season as the No. 11 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels came to town. The 3-0 Tar Heels already had wins over UCLA and Oklahoma State to their credit while this is only the second game for Oregon (1-0).
North Carolina used a strong second half to pull away for a 76-59 victory. 6″3 Stephanie Mavunga lead all scorers with 23 points and pulled down 16 rebounds. Jillian Alleyne did her best to try to keep the Ducks in the game with 18 points and 17 rebounds. The Tar Heels outscored the Ducks 48-30 in the second half.
The Tar Heels opened the second half with 12 straight points, turning a one-point deficit into a 40-29 lead. At one point they had a 32-9 edge in the second half. They pulled away from there, eventually taking a 24-point lead in route to the victory.
North Carolina’s sophomore 6’0 guard Allisha Gray looks like a future WNBA player. The left-handed Gray, averaging a team-high 19 ppg coming into the contest, came alive in the second half after a 2-of-7 shooting performance in the first half. The athletic Gray finished the contest with 18 points. While her long-distance shooting wasn’t working today (0-of-6) she was very active in transition and looked to be the most athletic player on the floor.
6’2 Xylina McDaniel added 14 points and seven rebounds for the Tar Heels while Lexi Bando (14 points) and Lexi Petersen (11 points) helped out for the Ducks. The Tar Heels dominated inside against the smaller Ducks, with a 46-18 point advantage in scoring in the paint. They ended the game with a +4 rebounding advantage.
It’s refreshing to see an Oregon team actually play defense as the squad has clearly bought into Coach Kelly Graves’ system. In the first half they held the high-scoring Tar Heels to 28 points on 12-of-37 shooting (32.4 percent). Unfortunately Oregon was having trouble putting the ball in the hoop as well, shooting only 28.9 percent themselves, as they took a 29-28 lead into halftime. Mavunga had her way inside, leading North Carolina with 15 points and seven rebounds. Alleyne battled Mavunga inside finishing the half with eight points, 10 rebounds and four assists.
The Ducks battled the taller Tar Heels on the boards ending the half with a +4 rebounding advantage and took care of the ball with 10 assists against only five turnovers. Muvunga was the only Tar Heel to have luck scoring, as the other players were a combined 5-of-25 from the field including 1-of-11 on three-pointers.
Oregon will play Portland State on Tuesday evening before heading to Las Vegas to play Central Michigan and American. North Carolina heads to Hawaii where they face a tussle with giant-slayer Stanford in their first game in the Rainbow Wahina Showdown.
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