Eugene, OR – The No. 12-ranked Oregon Ducks and No. 9-ranked Arizona Wildcats faced off on Monday afternoon in Eugene. Both teams are coming back from COVID-19 breaks. Arizona has had their previous four games postponed and last played on January 22nd. The Ducks had been off since January 24th until Saturday when they defeated UC-Davis. Oregon’s best perimeter defenders Taylor Chavez and Maddie Scherr both were unavailable today due to COVID-19 protocols. That should have made defending the Pac-12’s second leading scorer Aari McDonald (18.8 ppg) that much more difficult. The teams met previously in Tucson on January 14th where the Wildcats ran away with a 57-41 win.
Arizona broke open a close game in the second half and pulled away for a 79-59 win to complete a season sweep of the Ducks. Cate Reese was the star of the game, tying a season-high of 25 points. She shot 11-of-14 from the field, was perfect on 3s (3-of-3) and added six rebounds and two assists. Starting forward Sam Thomas added 14 points, connecting on 3-of-5 from deep. McDonald had an off-night shooting (4-pf-16) but finished with 13 points, six rebounds and four assists. Trinity Baptiste also added 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Nyara Sabally was the only effective player on offense for Oregon, scoring 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting and added four rebounds.
Arizona didn’t look rusty as they came out of the game to take an 8-0 lead helped by five points from the 6-2 Reese. Oregon got their offense in gear helped by three inside baskets from the 6-5 Sabally. 6-6 Lydia Giomi scored two late baskets, first on a runout and the other on a assist from Te-Hina Paopao as she rolled to the basket. The last hoop narrowed the deficit to 21-19 at the close of the quarter. Reese and forward Baptiste scored seven points for Arizona and the Wildcats outrebounded the Ducks 11-5.
The teams battled evenly through the second quarter with three ties. McDonald gave Arizona the final lead of the half with a three-pointer from the wing. A Sabally basket narrowed the Wildcats lead to 33-32 at halftime. Oregon did an excellent defensive on McDonald, holding her to 2-of-10 shooting in the half. Reese led the Wildcats with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting with five rebounds. Sabally led the Ducks with 10 points on 5-of-7 from the field. Arizona held a 25-15 edge on the boards but committed seven turnovers against only three for Oregon.
Arizona starting the third quarter strongly quickly pulling out to an eight-point lead (42-34) helped by five more points from Reese, including another three-pointer. Oregon got within four points on a Taylor Mikesell (9 points) bucket but Arizona came right back on a 13-0 run to extend their lead to 17 (60-43) on two Reese buckets, a three-pointer from Helena Pueyo and four points from McDonald. Arizona outscored the Ducks 27-14 in the period and took a 60-46 lead into the final stanza.
The Wildcats expanded the lead from there and coasted to the 20-point win. Arizona dominated from the three-point line, shooting 9-of-15 (60%) while the Ducks could only connect on 20% (3-of-15). Overall, Arizona shot 51 percent and held Oregon to 32 percent shooting. The Wildcats held a 42-37 edge on the boards and a 16-6 advantage on fast break points.
Oregon (12-3, 9-3) will continue their homestand against the Bay Area schools, first facing California on Friday afternoon while Arizona (11-2, 9-2) return home to play Washington State also on Friday.