Eugene, OR – The No. 10-rated UConn Huskies flew out west to face the Oregon Ducks in a matinee contest on Martin Luther King Jr. day. The Huskies have been playing short-handed with sophomore All-America Paige Bueckers out after suffering a tibial plateau fracture in a non-contact injury vs. Notre Dame last month. They are also missing the No. 1 2021 recruit, freshman Azzi Fudd, who is currently out with a foot injury while junior Aubrey Griffin is missing the 2021-22 season with a back injury.
Oregon took advantage of the Huskies being short-handed and ran way with a 72-59 win in front of 9,439 fans at Matthew Knight Arena. Te-Hina Paopao led the Ducks with 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting (4-of-9 3s) and with a game-high eight rebounds. Sedona Prince added 14 points. UConn’s Caroline Ducharme also scored 22 points on 10-of-21 from the field but was only 1-of-8 from downtown. The Huskies played only six players in the game. The crowd was silenced when Oregon’s 6-4 center Nyara Sabally went to the floor with an apparent leg injury with 4:42 remaining. Sabally has been battling knee injuries since she came to Eugene. She didn’t return to this game and there wasn’t a report on her status.
The main difference statistically in the game was in three-point shooting and turnovers. Oregon connected on 9-of-24 (37.5%) from deep while the Huskies were only 3-of-18 (16.7%). Oregon forced UConn into 19 turnovers while only committing 12.
UConn got off to a quick 10-0 lead helped by five points from the 6-2 freshman Ducharme but the Ducks came right back. They scored 15 of the next 19 points to take a 15-14 lead after the first quarter. Paopao was the catalyst for Oregon on offense scoring nine points in the quarter.
The Ducks then scored the first twelve points of the second quarter. After a Prince jumper, UConn called a timeout to regroup. The Oregon run extended to 26-4 after two Prince free throws. The Ducks maintained a double-digit lead throughout the quarter, closing with an old-fashioned three-point play by Endyia Rogers (7 points) to extend the lead to 39-24 at the break.
Paopao and Prince led the Ducks at the half with 12 points each. Ducharme, the No. 5 2021 recruit, led the Huskies with 11 points but missed all five of her three-point attempts. Without their three injured players UConn’s rotation is severely limited and they only played six players in the half. UConn was 0-of-8 from deep at the half and committed 11 turnovers. The Ducks were 4-of-14 on 3s with seven turnovers.
Oregon extended their lead to 17 points (53-36) on a Rogers layup midway through the third quarter. They basically put the game away after an Ahlise Hurst (6 points) three-pointer near the close of the quarter that gave the Ducks a 23-point lead. They led 62-41 at the end of the quarter and coasted to the win in the fourth quarter.
Oregon had been helped by the solid play of Prince in the last two games. Prince came back recently from a bout of COVID and her stamina wasn’t up to par at first. In today’s game as well as in the later part of the Arizona game, Prince has been much more active overall and has been deadly hitting mid-range jumpers. She shot 6-9 today, most from mid-range.
Oregon (10-5, 2-1) will now head to Washington later this week to face Washington and Washington State and will try to continue their momentum. The Ducks have now played all Final Four teams from last year, going 2-2 in those games. UConn (9-4, 4-0) will return home to face Seton Hall on January 21st.